Art exhibition catalogues more than 7,000 items of plastic pollution found on Hartlepool beaches in just 12 months

Environmental artist Diane Watson.
Environmental artist Diane Watson.

Thousands of items collected from North East beaches are to feature in an art exhibition highlighting the extent of plastic pollution.

Environmental artist Diane Watson has spent a year cataloguing her finds while walking beaches in Hartlepool and County Durham.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

She has netted an amazing haul of bottle tops, toys, chip forks, lighters, shotgun cartridges and a myriad of items all of which have been transformed into kaleidoscopic but poignant images and installations.

There Is No Away will exhibit at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

The exhibition, which is supported by the Arts Council, aims to bring a local perspective to global environmental concerns around the use and disposal of single use plastics.

Diane said: “Walking my dogs every day at Seaton and the Headland made me realise how much plastic is discarded but never goes away. Programmes such as Blue Planet have brought the world’s attention to this issue, but people don’t realise this is happening right on our doorstep.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

“My collection of more than 7,000 items has come from just four of miles of beaches in one year but it is a mere fraction of what is out there. It’s estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic a year is dumped into the sea and by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish. Rather than leaving it there forever, I thought I would turn it into something beautiful.”

There Is No Away features 12 striking printed images, representing a calendar year of collected plastics. The items are arranged and repeated into kaleidoscopic patterns challenging the viewer to inspect these objects in an unfamiliar context and to re-evaluate our relationship with plastics.

Alongside the images, Diane has created installations from some of the most commonly found objects and compiled a detailed inventory cataloguing each item, where it is found and when.

She added: “A small plastic item washed up may seemingly have no aesthetic value, but once curated and arranged into repeated kaleidoscopic patterns reminiscent of luxury wallpapers, they are transformed.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

Diane Watson's There Is No Away exhibition starts at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Saturday, March 23.

“These images and collections challenge the viewer’s perception of ‘throw away’ plastic as they decipher the patterns of what lies within to reveal that there is no away.”

There Is No Away is at Hartlepool Art Gallery between March 23 and May 25.