Saturday 22nd May 2021 to
Sunday 13th June 2021
The Southend Beach Rubbish Project started in 2016 when artist Imogen Welch began making regular visits to Southend on Sea. She had been making art from junk and found objects for years but it was the rubbish, particularly the plastic pollution, on the town’s beaches that became the main focus of her work.
Twelve Rubbish Photographs for Southend Pier – exhibition
This previously unshown series of twelve photographs, one for each month of the year, will be exhibited at the end of Southend pier which, at one and a quarter miles, is the longest in the world.
The objects in the images range from ubiquitous beach toys, ice cream spoons, bottle tops and straws, to disturbing (sewage related) cotton bud sticks and tampon applicators. The vibrant colour is achieved by lighting the objects from above and below; drawing in the viewer to both examine the artefacts and, potentially, be disturbed by them.
Seeing these poster-sized works in an outdoor tourist setting, viewers are challenged to look at rubbish in a different way. By playing with attraction and revulsion, the work aims to draw attention to our relationship to local and more global ecology and responsibility.
All the beaches where the plastic was collected can be seen from this location on the rear wall of the pavilion – maybe the photographs will be seen from some of them.
Cameraless image making with beach rubbish – workshop
Short outdoor family workshops that combine beach cleaning and image making. The activity will include a treasure hunt style experience, tapping into adventure and teamwork, and then the ‘finds’ will be used to create images using the early cameraless Cyanotype process.
Cyanotypes, made with sunlight and water, have a ‘Wow’ factor for the whole family who will create their own ‘art from trash’ to take home.
Workshops are planned in hour long Covid-safe prebooked slots
on 3 Saturdays across May and June:
Prebooking of workshop slots will be essential to conform to Southend Borough Council’s permit conditions. Because of uncertainties, an Eventbrite link with details of the events, location and prices will be published later through the Instagram account @southendbeachrubbishproject
and on Imogen's website.
The Southend Beach Rubbish Project is supported by an Arts Council England’s Project Grant
About the artists
Imogen Welch is a Hertfordshire based artist with a BA in Fine Art and is an Alumni Associate of Southend based The Other MA (TOMA). Her practice is typically one of recycling, re-presenting and transformation of rubbish - turning real world objects into art objects.
Starting in August 2016, Imogen collected rubbish on Southend beaches twice a month for a year. Much of the collection was disposed of locally but a significant proportion, mainly small plastic objects, was taken home to Hemel Hempstead and meticulously cleaned. The finds were documented in a sketchbook and then two films made with local filmmaker Paul Bates. Other art works from the project include digital scans and an installation that included silver replicas of small pieces of plastic beach rubbish titled Thirty Pieces of Silver.
Art created during The Southend Beach Rubbish Project has been shown in the Beecroft gallery, a 'pop up' exhibition in the Havens department store before it closed and at Southend Museum.
Imogen volunteers at the Watford Recycling Arts Project and The Papertrail (in Hemel Hempstead) where she has created and run many art workshops. She has exhibited in the UK and abroad but most recently in the Poetics of Place exhibition at the University of Hertfordshire, and in Lost Estuaries at Southend Museum.
Laurence Harding has a BA in Photography from the University of Westminster and is also an Alumni Associate of TOMA. She specialises in analogue photography, particularly alternative and historical photographic processes. She regularly leads workshops for arts and educational organisations, including sessions with children, teachers and outreach programmes for young adults in areas where higher education participation and access is low. She will lead the image making element of the workshops.