Summer came in slowly this year, which was nice because mushroom season lingered, giving me more time to research these unusual beings. But on the other hand I was eager for the suns return so I could bury myself into a new project.
The spring before, we camped out on a beach around 3 hours or so north of Perth. We stayed for the week, hiking, searching for wildflowers, sand boarding the dunes, snorkelling and swimming with sea lions. It was such a special retreat. During our time there, I found the shores full of the most interesting seaweeds I have ever come across. Pinks, greens, clear seaweeds, dead mans fingers and eel grass. So many I was astonished. I sat on the beach for hours collecting them and creating seaweed mandalas to decorate the beach.
I was really drawn to them during this time and the different varieties we had here in WA. When I got home I unpacked and sorted through some photo’s I had taken of the seaweeds. I found them all so fascinating that I began researching. I came across a beautiful book by Miek Zwamborn called “The Seaweed Collector’s Handbook” and spent the spring reading and researching.
I read, “What does the future look like for seaweeds in a warming ocean?” This question sparked my curiosity even more and I started to plan out my next creative project.
Seaweed is used as food, shelter for nursery grounds and filters to help keep the water healthy and safe. Seaweed is responsible for producing around 70% of the total oxygen on earth. It plays a major role in not only marine ecosystems, but benefits us land dwellers too.
I quickly set up camp, grabbed my foraging kit and made my way down to the white sandy beaches of Sandy Cape. It was a great time of year for it as the shore was lined with 100s of outstanding varieties of seaweed. For a long while I poked around with my microscopic lens and took beautiful images in the sun. Then began to ethically harvest some of my favourite seaweeds for pressings and samples to record under the microscope.
With jars full of sea water and weeds I headed back to camp and set up my preserving table. I ended up pressing 5 seaweeds on location before the wind picked up.
Back home I spent the next few weeks creating slides for the microscope, photographing and recording 10 different varieties of seaweed. I discovered tiny worlds within worlds, grasses and seawater full of microorganisms, food for molluscs, younger fish and crustaceans, an important part of the food chain.
All were preserved, pressed and sealed, along with them I painted a version of the pressings and carved out the microscopic images in lino for printing. Which I used to create seaweed ceramic vessels with.
As the summer went along like this I finally had a full study ready to paint the final poster. My first poster includes Sea Oak, Codium Fragile(dead mans fingers), Ullva Lactuca(Sea lettuce), Desmarestia kelp and my favourite, Heterosiphonia plumosa. I included drawings of their microscopic image as well.
I am very much looking forward to packaging all my prints, paintings and images ready for framing and soon to be added for sale in my art shop.
It was a beautiful ending and honouring to summer and the WA coastlines. My seaweed study showed me the importance of weeds and grasses to the eco system of the ocean and why we should protect it.