Sustainable Sculpture

For my Sustainable Sculpture project I am I am interested in exploring the properties of seaweed for this project.  This plentiful, and  sustainable resource is so often overlooked but I think it could prove to be a highly versatile material  to work with.

I want to use seaweed in my work to draw attention to the damage we are doing to our seas and oceans.  Plastics and other waste material are choking the life out of this precious resource.

Seaweed also forms a link between water and land.  This brings to mind borders.  I want to explore seaweed as a material to symbolise  the crossing of borders across the seas and the perilous journeys refugees make seeking a better life.


See the source image

National Geographic, plastic in our oceans

I am really disturbed by the images of refugees, overcrowded onto small, unstable boats; risking life on the open seas, desperately searching for a better life.

Image from Guardian online. Overcrowded refugee boat.

I am struck by how the washed up bodies from a distance resemble the flotsam and jetsam I encounter on our pristine beaches in affluent parts of the country.  The contrast is striking and disturbing.

Getty images


And this is the tranquil Gullane beach I walk with my dog looking for seaweed.  The similarity yet contrast is humbling.

This is some of the material that I gathered

Washing and boiling seaweed

Washing and drying the seaweed.  I separated it into different groups of seaweed and razor clams

The wet seaweed against the window has a luminous glow.  I still don’t know what I am doing with the seaweed but feel there is potential to explore.

My house smells of the sea.  The is seaweed everywhere, hanging from the blinds in the kitchen, the handles of the French doors and drying on a clothes rack.  I hope inspiration comes quickly

Drying out seaweed

The sand from the seaweed fell on the tissue paper that was under the drying rack.  I really liked the image and framed it.

I have this old lampshade that is literally falling apart.  I wonder if i can make use of this in some way

The lactic flowers, literally crumbled in my hand when I touched them.  This is in need of a makeover.

I am having to reload the seaweed in warm water to make it pliable again


I coated the central plastic shade with strips of seaweed which was stuck down and coated in PVA glue.  When dry the colour is enhanced and has a shiny almost ceramic feel.

I attached the light shade frame to a hanging light and started to drape seaweed from the frame.


I started layering the seaweed and draping it from the frame.  I wanted to see what it would start to look like lit.  To do this I used a standard Ikea upright light behind the mass.


This made me think that I would prefer to create a free standing sculpture using the upright light as my armature.

I started with the ‘shade’ pointing upwards and the frame positioned in a reverse pyramid.  I wasn’t sure that I liked this and tried it in reverse

I think that I am preferring it this way.

I have discovered that the seaweed is better to work with when wet/damp than dry.  I am going to take all the seaweed out of the frame and dampen it.  I am thinking the seaweed would benefit from being coated in the PVA.  The light needs to be sprayed a sea green.  I already have spray paint so I will not be buying anything extra.  I would like the seaweed to drape to the floor.  That entails many more beach based dog walks.

When I consider the piece floor length I imagine it looking almost life like.  This brings back to mind the images of refugees washed up on the shore.  The lamp has a side ‘arm’ – could this be used in some way?

I covered a bowl with clingfilm then places damp seaweed over the bowl and slathered it in PVA glue

After 2 days of drying I achieved a delicate form.

A further trip to the beach and a new batch of seaweed.

I am attempting to create a larger form.  This time I am using a large garden planter form my model.

My house smells like the sea again.  After cleaning the seaweed and wrapping the pot in clingfilm I covered it with the damp seaweed.  I have again slathered the pot with PVA.  This piece is far thicker at the base of the pot.  I have no idea how long this is going to take to dry (if in fact it does).  I am guessing at least a week.  I am hopeful that it does dry and doesn’t go mouldy at the base where it it thick with extensive layers of seaweed.

If this does dry I am going to need to rethink my structure as the standing lamp idea won’t work.

That’s ok.  I am open to seeing this piece develop organically but I do thing light coming through the work will be essential.