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Josie Llewellyn – Bath Spa University

 Student profile 

Course: MA Design (Ceramics)

Artist's statement

The Anthropocene Epoch is a term that encapsulates the effects we, as a species, are having on the Earth and its inhabitants. We now exist in a world of accelerated extinction rates, suffocating pollution levels and mass deforestation, to name just a few, as well as an unabated population explosion. It highlights the detachment between nature and human interaction and how nature is becoming altered through human activity.

The crux of my work focuses on the impact we humans and our waste are inflicting on the natural world and how we play a fundamental role in this struggle for survival.

Beaches in particular are significant sites of interest to me because they are a constantly changing synapse between land and sea, a hinterland. Each year thousands of tonnes of our waste is deposited into our oceans to be forgotten about but then for it to get regurgitated back onto our shorelines, along with plastic-choked marine life. The ocean does not discriminate as to where it dumps its cargo. Plastic waste ends up on the furthest remote islands, our white sandy holiday destinations, tainting our landscapes and areas of natural beauty, no longer being able to be ignored and forgotten.

Whilst investigating the subject of plastic pollution and it’s lack of biodegradability it has led me to question my own ceramic practice, and incorporate ceramic materials into my practice in unconventional ways. Clay, once fired, is much the same as plastic becoming perpetual objects that do not break down, lasting for thousands of years in our earth's crust.

This idea, of manmade objects becoming intertwined with the landscape and becoming part of our geological make-up due to their lack of biodegradability, both fascinates and horrifies me. It's quite a sobering thought that potentially, in thousands of years, there will be more remnants of these toxic, manmade substances as evidence of the Anthropocene, than organic plant and animal matter.

In this time of uncertainty and instability, I'm questioning what part art can play. Can it address these environmental problems that are being entrenched in stone?

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