Research for Beauty and the Beach…

Where am I up to? It is time to recap as there has been so much going on in preparation of the assignments for the Sustainable Prospects Module that I have paid less attention to organising the masses of information that is and will continue to be useful for the development of my Final Major Project. With two modules to go it feels a little early to be talking about this but as they say time flies and it certainly has with this module.

I have been mostly using Lightroom and on occasion Photoshop until recently. I still do but I have also been trying out the in-house MacBook Photos processing. It is limited but is also quick and easy to use. Overall the Adobe processing wins for control and quality but I appreciate the latter is great for prompt uploading to social media when used on the phone (I have not tried the Adobe packages on my phone).

I think my ‘taking’ of images is improving and hope that others see a difference from those at the start of the course too. I ‘feel’ more automatic in the process of taking in that I seem to be subconsciously setting to camera and point from where I shoot in relation to the light and composition with greater ease and more quickly. Although this may be technique emerging there is a downside in that I will have to be more consciously aware to avoid just repeating a formula and losing creativity.

I have begun to use my iphone (a ‘darkside’ acquisition this summer some might say!) to repeat shots taken with my DSLR for comparison and also when I have the wrong lens on the DSLR say for landscapes. I have not done anything with the macros lenses on the iphone recently or invested in a zoom lens for it so that will be an experimental activity for the break.

My dilemma in the past few weeks about veering more towards landscapes that I find debris in rather then the debris itself, has been subsiding a little. I am not sure if this relates to the weather and having fewer good days to get out and about and marvel at vistas or whether it is my inspiration and understanding developing in relation to articles that I find through having learned about other artists, sculptors and photographers. It is possibly a combination of both.

I have mentioned elsewhere about endless images of debris having the potential to be boring after a while and the need to develop my own unique style of presentation. To that end I have taken that thought to the beach and got down low (in the style of Andy Hughes) and found circles ( in the style of Andy Goldsworthy). I am now feeling that further experimentation ‘in the style of various artists will be formative in aspirations for my own style or niche.


Bottle Neck Sarah Newton 2017
Plastic tube on the seashore Sarah Newton 2017



It seems that I have a growing reputation for rubbish. I thank all of those who have through webinars and Instagram and other means directed me to artists, photographers and campaigns relating to debris and the environmental impact on land and in the sea that it is having. In the past few months the topic has escalated in interest with politicians and in the media. I cannot see and hear everything relating to it all of the time so such tip offs are very welcome and are being followed up.

Edward Weston’s iconic Cabbage Leaf (1931), Andy Hughes beach debris (2006) and Keith Arnatt who turned a mouldy loaf into a revered image (2014), all focussed in close on individual items, the former to show the natural beauty in food items and latter two achieving a raised public awareness of the environmental impact of rubbish through creating beauty in things that would perhaps be considered ugly and distasteful to focus on.

I am attempting to create some beauty with some of my finds. For example, having taken a green beer bottle in situ where I found it I then took it to the shoreline and watched it get knocked over by the incoming tide. The shimmering light on the water and through the green glass were mesmeric to watch as it slowly fell. I then put the bottle on a rock turning it around several times to see how it would look presented from different angles. Although not hugely successful in terms of correct exposure for strong light and blurriness as the bottle fell I was pleased. I have decided that I will continue to photograph in situ and experiment with changing locations for the items I find.


Tipping Point Sarah Newton 2017
Bottle and Rock Sarah Newton 2017

















Other people I have been following collect and display rubbish in images as one might arranging samples from a wild flower meadow for example. This approach has resulted in huge stunning and thought provoking displays by Mandy Barker whose Plastic Sea exhibition is currently showing in Dubai (2017). Mandy Barker explains in the About section of her website that:

“The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness…..”.

Paul Kenny (2017) creates beautiful thought provoking images with a story. Capturing things that we often pass by in land and seascapes which we have been and should take continuing responsibility for he subtly delivers impactful messages.

Doubtful of my own creative talents I cannot at this stage see myself being able to create more than very rudimentary arrays of collected debris. It is easier to envisage just focussing on individual items. However I should not avoid a challenge as it may present opportunities in directions I cannot envisage at this moment. So onwards to further experimentation with rubbish I have collected.

Sharing and Displaying
I have written about and posted here possible outlets in terms of saleable products in an task during the Sustainable Products module. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of some actual tangible examples. I am aware of needing to ‘exhibit’ as part of the work in future modules and have been collecting inspiration for this this activity.

In Amsterdam at the Unseen exhibition I was drawn to several exhibits with my future displays in mind. In addition I saw billboard displays on the coast near The Hague that informed passers by about the problem of debris in the oceans.

Much more research is needed in this area and my views will no doubt change with enlightenment garnered through the course, visits to galleries, communication with others and depending on the debris I find in future expeditions.


Artsy. 2017. Mandy Barker-Plastic Sea. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Barker, Mandy. About. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

BBC Bitesize-KS2 Art and Design- Andy Goldsworthy- Art. (2009). Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Beetles and Huxley. Edward Weston’s ‘Cabbage’, an Icon of Modernist Photography. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Carson, David and Hughes, Andy. 2006. Dominant Wave Theory. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions.

Goldschmidt, Michal. 2014. ‘Keith Arnatt Pictures from a Rubbish Tip 1988-9’. December 2014. Available at: accessed [2/12/17].

Goldsworthy, Andy. Natural sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy. Melt. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Kenny, Paul. Home. Seaworks. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

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