I returned to the same 200m stretch of Felixstowe beach yesterday [4 Feb] to continue gathering detritus from human activity. I was surpassed that there were not more people around, and that there were no people line fishing [especially as the weather forecast for the next day was far worse, and indeed when I returned earlier today despite there being snow on the beach there were several people line fishing].
Once again there were several reman at of thread/twine/rope as well as an old toy, litter, and a possible stone age tool.
I was again reminded of the variety of objects, the potential range of their (unknown) points of origin, and the difference in time that has elapsed since the items were lost or discarded.
It was good to be able to collect so much twine etc as this is a real hazard to wildlife and can entrap a fleeing bird in its nest; I was thus reminded of part of my original motivation following a powerful film on Autumn Watch, that documented the freeing of entrapped fledgling birds.
This, not for the first time, seemed to resonate with something of the situation that displaced or trafficked or migrant peoples may find themselves in. Entrapped by promises of a better of safer life but ending up in fear of the lives or fear for their loved ones; or simply trapped by circumstances and unable to return to their family. This in turn reminded me of a recent BBC documentary that explored the predicament of migrant workers sleeping rough in Peterborough.
This time, perhaps because of the freezing temperatures and that my partner was photographically documenting something of my gleaning, I was more aware of the performative dimension to my work. Having perused photographs from several visits, this sense of performance seems to be underlined by the fact that I have normally been wearing the same coat and have usually used an orange bag in which to collect my finds.
I contemplated publicising this so that people could watch the performance; but on further consideration I concluded that this could potentially distort the work - if it was widely known when and where I would be collecting the detritus from human activity their would be a risk that some would deliberately leave items to be "found" - this could not only distort the art work but could be seen as irresponsibly encouraging people to litter the beach; whereas I hope that a positive byproduct of the work might be to encourage people to at least carefully gather all their own rubbish and to properly dispose of it, if not to gather at least one additional item so that all work together to not only maintain, but to improve that local habitat.