Shields Ferry artwork raises awareness of plastics problem

Artist Jay Smith with her art work on the Spirit of the Tyne
11 September 2018

A new photo artwork on the Shields Ferry brings home the topical issue of plastics in our oceans.

Clean Up Isle Sea by photographer Jay Smith contrasts the stunning and beautiful seascapes of the  North East coast with the discarded plastics lurking just below the surface.

The images she has captured will be displayed across the windows of the Spirit of the Tyne passenger ferry, in a temporary installation this autumn.

Jay  said: “There has been a great deal of interest around the problem of plastics in our oceans, and I hope my work makes people aware that marine pollution is not a problem that is far away, but one that is a lot closer to home.

“Clean Up Isle Sea asks people to question damage that we have done to our coastline by contrasting wide seascapes with close up images of waste becoming embedded within our environment. 

“It is time we got together to clean up and also stay on top of the problems that have been created.  I want people to go away and find out more about the issue, and what they can do to make a difference.”

Jay, who is from Stocksfield, Northumberland and who is studying fine art at the University of Sunderland, originally approached staff at the Shields Ferry as part of a course which encourages students to get their work displayed in public places.

This grew into a larger project which will be displayed on the Spirit of the Tyne on its half-hourly crossings between North and South Shields.

Carol Timlin, the ferry manager, said: “The Shields Ferry has been part of life at the mouth of the Tyne for hundreds of years so we are well aware of the environment we live and work in.

“Jay’s photography brings a very topical issue into real local focus; the river mouth, coastline and beaches are magnificent natural assets for our region and we need to look after them.”

The Shields Ferry is owned and operated by Nexus, the public body which provides and promotes public transport in North East England.   It has ISO 14001 Environmental Management System accreditation recognising the effort the crew makes to perform to the highest standards in terms of waste management and wider environmental impact.

Photographer Jay Smith has created this temporary art installation to highlight the issue of marine pollution along the North East coast line.  The images are transparent for people to see the work from inside and outside the Shields Ferry.

'Clean Up Isle Sea' asks you to consider the damage that we have done to our coastline. Contrasting wide seascapes with close up images of waste becoming embedded within our seas and beaches shows the environment is not always as clean as it first appears.

The images travel from South Shields to St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay to remind us that marine pollution is not a far away problem, but close to home.  Jay hopes that her work will inspire people to think about what they can do to help – from reducing waster to helping beach clean ups.


Jay Smith with her artwork on the Shields Ferry

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