14 May – 3 July


At the centre of a programme devoted to rethinking our relationship with the environment is Messums’ 13th century tithe barn. The largest in the country, the barn gallery becomes a turbine hall for the imagination this summer starting with Tideline, a group exhibition running from 14 May – 3 July 2022.

Made of limestone and sitting on a reef of Upper Jurassic Tisbury coral 24 miles from the nearest beach at Rockley Sands in Poole, Messums’ historic gallery bears witness to the action of water over millennia as maker and unmaker of landscape.

‘At a time of accelerated shifts in sea levels and marine life brought on by human activity, Tideline examines artist responses to that most contested space, the littoral landscape. The area between land and sea carries with it the history of our earliest evolution, and remains one of the principal spaces for mankind’s dwelling. 634 million people live within a 10 vertical metre distance of current shorelines. This liminal environment, where animals and plants interact differently, pushed and pulled by rising and falling tides, holds both the threat to our future security as well as some of its solutions.’ Johnny Messum

The artists selected engage and expand our understanding of this extraordinary ecosystem and bellwether to change. Their work sets out not just to alert and inform, but to key into our empathy with the underwater environment, to sow the seeds of our imagination and drum up our own sense of agency for change. They remind us of human ingenuity’s boundless desire for discovery, and radiate with a light of possibility, inviting us to problem-solve and think the unthinkable.

Fresh from the launch of Corpus Maris I, commissioned for this year’s Sydney Biennale, and adopting a reduced footprint approach to making that is being supported locally by Messums Creative, Julia Lohmann fabricated a series of seaweed sculptures for the gallery in Wiltshire in March. A long-time champion of kelp as a material for reimagining living with our resources, Lohmann’s luminous structures suggest new propositions for sustainable creative practice. ‘Every species has an equal right to life on this planet. We can use the same human ingenuity that has led to the climate crisis we are facing now… to protect and regenerate the ecosystem that sustains us.’

Tom Waugh’s Anthropocene Fossils propose what paleontological specimens of the future might look like. Taking some of most eminently disposable yet least biodegradable objects of our era such as coffee cup lids, picnic cutlery and Styrofoam, Waugh carves them into salvaged stone and marble, ‘emerging from boulders and rocks like futuristic ammonites’.  His Carrara marble Knife and Fork poke out of the slope between the Barn Gallery and the Mess Restaurant. Exquisitely hyper-realistic yet humorous, they confront the absurdity of our hunger for convenience at any cost.

Also outside the Barn is Ros Burgin’s Lifelines. Coral reefs are some of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on earth, representing an important source of food and income to more than 500 million people worldwide, and they perform a crucial role in coastal defence. They are formed of the calcium carbonate skeletons of corals, small, immobile organisms closely related to jellyfish. Under pressure from pollution, over-fishing, sea temperature rises and bleaching, reefs have declined by 50% since 1950. Burgin’s work maps out the world’s remaining tropical coral reefs across four handcrafted Lignum surfboards.

Inside, Tania Kovats’ Bleached anticipates what future museum presentations of these vital and fast-disappearing habitats might look like. Taking specially-fabricated coral from a decommissioned exhibit from The Deep aquarium in Hull, Kovats sliced through the

reefs and presented them in a series of vitrines, first shown as part of Hull’s City of Culture in 2017.

Dorothy Cross’s Jellyfish Lake was inspired by the artist’s research into pioneering marine biologist Maud Delap, who in 1902 became the first person to rear jellyfish (in an aquarium at her home in Valentia Island, County Kerry) and to observe their full lifecycle. Filmed in the lakes of Palau Micronesia (itself at the sharp end of sea level rise), the video shows hundreds of tiny, delicate jellyfish swimming around the head and shoulders of a woman, whose hair floats with them in the swilling water. Lulling and dreamlike, the film captures a moment of coexistence that brings to mind Rachel Carson’s observation, ‘It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.’ The challenge now is to channel the curiosity of scientists and creative thinkers towards devising new activities and modes of existence.

Photographed during a 2015 visit to Iceland, the glaciers forming the basis for Wayne Binitie’s Liquid Paintings and Octet sculptures no longer exist. These works mark the beginning of a continuing collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey that saw Binitie’s work, Polar Zero, forming the centrepiece of an exhibition during the United Nations COP 26 Climate Conference last November. ‘The scale of the topic is so overwhelming and so complex that it can feel distant, even apocalyptic. People need something tangible to get hold of, that collapses that distance.’

In a small sand-island in the North Sea, a tiny figure filmed from a drone walks in ever decreasing circles around the tightening perimeter of the shore. As the tide comes in and eats away at the sliver of land, so it and the figure’s room for manoeuvre reduces and ultimately disappears, vanishing under the inevitable waves. Like other works in the show, Simon Faithfull’s Going Nowhere 1.5 brings humour and absurdity to bear on a situation which can seem hopeless and beyond our understanding.

Dolosse are reinforced concrete blocks used in large numbers as a form of coastal sea defence. First used in 1964 in the South African port city of East London, they have since proliferated in different geometric forms wherever sea level rise has started to encroach. The name Dolos is derived from the Afrikaans word for the ox knuckle-joint bones used in divination practices by healers. Henrietta Armstrong’s Throwing Bones II is an installation of 50 forms inspired by the Dolos, cast out of plaster and arranged in a random interlocking mass. Reminiscent of discarded baubles or games of chance, they touch playfully and lyrically on the landscape of risk and unknown consequences steadily transforming our shorelines.

In 2018, Richard Long produced a series of screen prints, based on drawings he made from mud taken from the banks of the tidal River Avon in Bristol, where he first played as a child. ‘Even as a kid I was fascinated by the enormous tide, and the mud banks, and the wash of the boats as they swept past… I guess it’s right to say that I have used that experience in my art: like water, the tides, the mud. All that cosmic energy is there in my work.’

Nature and the environment have informed Kurt Jackson’s practice ever since his university studies in Zoology at Oxford in the early 1980’s. ‘I paint the sea, her ways and guises, her manners and moods, as metaphor and topographical seascape. I see the pollution daily.’ Painted for Surfers Against Sewage in 2016, Mermaid’s Tears referred to the resin pellets and microplastics, now an indivisible facet of his turbulent and sublime seascapes. This mingling of poetry and menace has always been part of our dynamic with the sea, and informs the titles of his two paintings, She gives and takes, this big blue ocean, this carbon sink, this blue lung, and We breathe the ocean’s breath and she breathes ours.

Tideline addresses both the awareness but also the possible responses to the seen and unseen impacts of human activity on the bodies of water covering approximately 70.8% of the earth’s surface. It flags concern and also presents potential for change.

Exhibiting Artists

Henrietta Armstrong, Wayne Binitie, Ros Burgin, Dorothy Cross, Simon Faithfull, Kurt Jackson, Tania Kovats, Julia Lohmann, Richard Long, Tom Waugh.

Henrietta Armstrong

Henrietta Armstrong (b. Torquay, 1981) is a multimedia artist based in London, specialising in sculpture, installation and public art. She was recently selected as a finalist for the National Sculpture Prize 2021 and awarded as a runner up for the Soho House Art Prize 2020. She is currently working on a public art commission for the village of Tytherington commissioned by Cotswold Homes & South Gloucestershire Council. Recent exhibitions include National Sculpture Prize Exhibition at Broomhill Estate, TILT Summer Show at Hoxton Gallery, DOLOS – Rooftop Mural Project at Jealous Gallery, Art on a Postcard Summer Auction 2021 and Recreational Grounds: Off Site at Thames-Side Gallery. She is co-foundER of Come Quick Disaster, a platform for arts providing help & information for artists.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your work in Tideline and how does it sit within the context of your work?


Throwing Bones II was inspired by the sea defence structures used to protect the land from erosion by the sea, particularly the Dolos. I look at man-made objects and totemic structures within my work that often have a geometric shape as well, as the symbolism and power that we imbue them with. I love the way they interlock and passively dissipate the violent energy of the waves with their shape alone.

Coastal erosion is the loss of coastal lands due to the breaking down and removal of sediments or bedrock from the shoreline by the sea. It’s a natural ongoing process that has been happening for thousands of years and the transport of material away from the shoreline is balanced by new material being deposited. However, as sea levels rise due to global warming, the extent and severity of coastal erosion is getting worse.

If nothing is done, half of the world’s sandy beaches could disappear by 2100 due to climate change-induced coastal erosion and rising seas. As global temperatures continue to rise, driven by heat trapping greenhouse gases, melting ice will raise sea levels, and extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and intensify, battering vulnerable coastlines around the world.

The name Dolos is derived from the Afrikaans word for the ox knuckle-joint bones used in divination practices by sangomas, South African healers. Also, the bones used by African children to play the ancient game of Knucklebones. The Dolosse, piled up on top of each other look like giant playing pieces from an ancient game, or bones that have been scattered for the purposes of divination. The white of the Dolosse forms catch the varying natural light at all times of day, changing the work as the daylight changes.

I wanted the sculpture to be a playful yet beautiful reminder of climate change and the purpose of these forms, and what our future will be like if we don’t take action now to prevent it.


Q. What can artists and creative thinkers do to engage the public on ocean literacy and climate change, and promote sustainable ways of living with the planet?


Global warming and rising sea levels will soon have a devastating impact on our daily lives. Cornwall is one of the UK counties which will be most affected by climate change; cliffs are eroding and flood risks are increasing. The coastal cliffs of North Cornwall are likely to experience 40 metres of erosion in the next century. Climate change is happening now, and we can already see the effects that this is having around the world.

People become immune or overwhelmed by the daily bombardment of news and the situation we are in can seem futile. Artists and creative thinkers can reach people in different ways and help them understand that it is possible for each of us to make an impact. The more artists make work about aspects of climate change and its effect on the planet, the wider the audience that is reached about such issues. Artists working with scientists can help see things from a different perspective, as well as making research more relatable.

Art and particularly sculpture can be wasteful, and all artists need to consider ways in which they can make their practices more sustainable. Through exploration of the possibilities of recycled and eco-friendly materials, artists can bring about education. The more people are made to be aware and care, the bigger the demand for change. The bigger the demand for change, the more big companies or governments listen and want to be seen to be doing something.


Q. Who or what has inspired and informed you best on these subjects?


I started looking at sea defences within my work in 2017, as I was interested in their varying geometric shapes. These huge man-made shapes protect the land we walk on from the ever-encroaching expanses of sea. They seem so alien and out of place in their natural setting.

I noticed that in the different countries I visited, they had different shapes. For example, in Spain they tended to be square cubes, whereas in Japan and Eastern Europe, they use the Tetrapod, which was the first shape of its kind created in France in 1950. Different shapes were then designed and patented by various countries around the world. The idea of these huge blocks being an industrial commodity that can be ordered and delivered, really interested me.

The Dolos was designed in 1963 by a South African harbour draughtsman, Aubrey Kruger, and they were first used on the breakwater in East London, a South African port city. There are only 2 places in the UK that you can see them, and in Autumn 2020 I travelled to see some Dolosse in place around Torness Power station in Scotland. Being there and witnessing the sheer scale of all of these huge structures en masse together was breathtaking. Even though they look like they have been scattered randomly, each one has been placed according to precise calculations to create maximum protection for the power station, and at 80 tonnes each, that is no mean feat.

These barriers of shapes protecting the land from the sea represent a metaphor to me of the human condition and struggles that we face. Particularly apt at a time when the nightmare that is Brexit has become real, disease has turned our lives upside down and we are on the brink of a potential world war.


Q. What are the processes involved in making your work?


I am a multimedia artist specialising in sculpture, installations and public art and use a variety of processes in my work. I tend to visualise ideas and then work through these by drawing and sketching the possibilities. Often with sculpture, making an idea become a reality involves a lot of process research and problem-solving. Then when I’m working with materials, I use a combination of method and intuition. For Throwing Bones II, the initial Dolos form was scaled up from a drawing, carved from a polystyrene block then covered with a thin layer of plaster. I then created a mould from this, using silicone with a fibreglass mother mould. Once the mould was completed, each of the 50 dolosse were individually cast using Crystacal R plaster, which is known for its hardness and pure white colour, before being refined, sanded and sealed by hand.

Wayne Binitie

Wayne Binitie (b. London, 1967) collaborated with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Antarctic Survey and Arup as part of his PhD at the Royal College of Art to create Polar Zero for the UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow last year. He presented a cylindrical glass sculpture containing Antarctic air from 1765 – the date that many historians pinpoint as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, alongside a second cylinder with an ice core containing tiny bubbles of air that were trapped as snow fell and compacted. Together, they provide an artistic marker of how much the earth’s atmosphere has altered since that crucial date.

Ros Burgin

Ros Burgin is a sculptor who combines globally traded materials and a variety of processes and styles discovering new ways to shape and inform sculpture. She makes work that comments on sustainability, the marine environment and the part women play in shaping the collective values of society. Ecology is not only a theme but also an expression of her relationship with the world and is at the heart of an optimistic art practice advocating for lasting change where cooperation prevails over competition. Lifelines was first shown in Trinity Buoy Wharf as a partner in the Totally Thames Festival 2021, and supported by Arts Council England.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your work in Tideline and how does sit within the context of your work?

The aim of Lifelines is for the public to become as easily familiar with the location and shape of coral reefs as they are with the shape of continents. I am seeking to create a sea-change in people’s thinking, where out of sight is no longer out of mind, and to pull focus to life below the water and our connection to and dependence on healthy oceans.

A long time ago, John Muir (1838 -1914), the Scottish-born American naturalist, and founder of the modern conservation movement observed “When one tugs at a single living thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

No one cares for what they don’t know about and can’t see, so in understanding human nature, you can find a way to open them up to things that may not be local and in their orbit. I seek to present unique pieces of art that reach an audience, and promote conversations about how they can get involved now that they are thinking and talking about the issues.

The things I focus on in my art practice are issues that society acting as a whole can change, and it is the emphasis on values and sustainability that runs through all my work. I make many pieces that advocate for an accelerated pace of change. I find it incredible that that these issues persist, even after all the campaigning work has been done and it is law.  An example is the Equal Pay Act, law since 1970 and more than 50 years later, there is still a gender pay gap.

The same observations can be made about environmental pollution. By way of example, look at what we do in this country to all our rivers, where untreated sewage is dumped every day, despite laws and regulations.

Q. What can artists and creative thinkers do to engage the public on ocean literacy and climate change, and promote sustainable ways of living with the planet?

Art and artists draw attention to the issues and open conversations about aspects of the problems the world is facing. I think interesting visual work remains in peoples’ minds and creates an emotional response that equally stays with them. This is how artists who choose to advocate and campaign can connect with people in a way that other forms of information have not.

The simple first question asked by a viewer about innovative or unusual work – ‘what is it?’ – leads them to unlock the elements within the piece and see where the artist started from, and why they have created and presented the work where it is.

With Island, I am taking unusual materials but ones that are linked to everyone’s experience, as they all are familiar with tyres in all their forms of use; and referring to the second use of this product, once worn out, by trawling fishing boats. In this way, I am relocating people’s thinking to the water and sea bed off our shores. Shaping this island (GB) with these materials reconnects us to the land mass under our feet, and its connection to the land under the sea surrounding us.

It also introduces the theme of mapping and representation, as well as an aspect of fishing off shore, which connects us to thinking of boundaries both physical and political, and the way these lines are drawn.

There are obvious climate change issues which will impact people on every island, and global fishing practices which are destructive, wasteful and harm ecosystems such as coral reefs, as well as entire communities and island nations.  Factory and fishing are two words that should never have been put together.

Q. Who or what has inspired and informed you best on these subjects?

I have a wide range of interests and spend time looking into contemporary matters, both through the internet and through talking to people involved both in creating the problems and the solutions that are affecting our planet.

When I was very young, I remember the hearing about acid rain, and the notion was profound and disturbing. I learned that the weather pattern of the world meant that air pollution from UK businesses destroyed vast areas of Scandinavian forests. Connecting the dots at the time has informed and shaped my views, and left me with a global perspective on matters that interest me.

I have wondered ever since, why businesses don’t have people in their boardrooms and in the decision-making process who speak up for the cost to the environment that they exclude from their balance sheets. It is really a conversation about values: one group of people trading and seeking to make money should not be plundering our shared ground and seas, just because the cost to the planet does not appear on their profit and loss sheet.

Q. What are the processes involved in making your work?

I am innovative in my approach to processes, and adapt many from ordinary manufacturing and explore new ways of making and manipulating materials, so that they carry some of their first use and original attributes into the artwork to enrich the composition of the whole piece. I enjoy the challenges caused by the constant innovation with globally traded materials, as well as the pleasure in finding out how far I can push any material’s parameters and still make it stand in the way I want it to in my artwork.

Dorothy Cross

Simon Faithful

Working in sculpture, film and photography, Dorothy Cross (b. Cork, 1956) looks at relationships between body and time and the human and the natural world. Based on Ireland’s rural West Coast, Cross’s immediate environment is inseparable from her practice, present in the richly symbolic materials she uses to create strange and often unexpected encounters. In the early 90s, Cross came to widespread attention through a series of works featuring cow skins and cow udders. Since then, the artist has continued to work with organic matter, including whale skeletons, skull fragments and, at times, casts of her own body parts. The artist delves into the realm of geology and alchemy in the amalgamations of objects she creates, reinvigorating the lives of everyday things – sometimes humorous, sometimes disturbing, always intellectually stimulating and visually arresting. Cross’s work celebrates wonder and beauty despite the brevity of human existence.

Simon Faithfull’s (b. Ipsden, 1966) practice takes a variety of forms – ranging from video, to digital drawing, installation work and writing. He studied at Central St Martins and the University of Reading, and is Professor of Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at the Atchugarry Foundation Miami (USA), Galerie Polaris (Paris), Kunstverein Sprinhornhof (Germany), The Exchange in Penzance (UK) and Musee des Beaux Arts (Calais). Recent group shows include exhibitions at Parafin (London), Maison Rouge (Paris), ACC Gwangju (Korea), Turner Contemporary (UK), CCCB (Barcelona), Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (Australia). In 2019 the first iteration of his public artwork ‘The Erratics’ was unveiled in Cambridge University (UK) and in 2010 his largest permanent public artwork to date ‘Liverpool-to-Liverpool’ was unveiled at the centre of Liverpool (UK). Faithfull’s works feature in many collections around the world including in France: Centre Pompidou, FRAC Basse Normandie & FRAC Franche-Comté; in England: in the Government Art Collection & the Arts Council Collection and also in the MAST Foundation in Italy amongst others.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your work in Tideline and how does sit within the context of your work?

‘Going Nowhere 1.5’ is the latest instalment in an accidental trilogy of ‘Going Nowhere’ films that now spans 25 years. The idea for ‘Going Nowhere 1.5’ came from being fascinated by ‘Doggerland’ – a drowned world in the North Sea that used to link Europe and the British Isles and whose remains now form the entirely submerged ‘Dogger Bank’. Shot in the North Sea off the coast of Norfolk, the film depicts a figure walking around the perimeter of an intertidal island as it is slowly eaten away by the rising tide. As with all the Going Nowhere films the figure seems to be caught in an absurd and Sisyphean task – always striding forwards, but to what aim remains unclear.  In ‘Going Nowhere 1.5’ the figure could perhaps be seen as the last ‘Doggerlander’.


Q. What can artists and creative thinkers do to engage the public on ocean literacy and climate change, and promote sustainable ways of living with the planet?

I try to report back from points on the planet’s surface. To create images and dreams that are situated somewhere on a rock that is spinning in space, and through this, hopefully to show something of our precarious position on this planet.


Q. Who or what has inspired and informed you best on these subjects?

In 2005 I travelled with the British Antarctic Survey on the icebreaker the RSS Ernest Shackleton to Halley Research Station on Antarctica. The experience of travelling beyond humans’ normal realm changed my perception of the processes of this planet and my place within them. Since then, I have learned from many peoples and scientists around the world, and I think these encounters filter into my artworks.


Q. What are the processes involved in making your work?

Go, look, feel – and then try to dream that experience into an artwork.

Kurt Jackson

Kurt Jackson’s (b. Blandford, 1961) artistic practice ranges from his trademark visceral plein-air sessions to studio work and embraces an extensive range of materials and techniques including mixed media, large canvases, print-making, the written word and sculpture. A dedication to and celebration of the environment is intrinsic to both his politics and his art; a holistic involvement with his subject informs his formal innovations. Jackson’s focus on the complexity, diversity and fragility of the natural world has led to artist-in-residencies on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, the Eden Project and for nearly 20 years the Glastonbury Festival, which has become a staple of his annual working calendar. Four monographs on Jackson have been published by Lund Humphries depicting his career so far. Jackson regularly contributes to radio and television and presents environmentally informed art documentaries for the BBC and was the subject for an award-winning BBC documentary, ‘A Picture of Britain’. He has an Honorary Doctorate (DLitt) from Exeter University and is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford University. He is an ambassador for Survival International and frequently works with Greenpeace, WaterAid, Oxfam and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. He is a patron of human rights charity Prisoners of Conscience. He an academician at the Royal West of England Academy.

Tania Kovats

Tania Kovats (b. Brighton, 1966) studied at Newcastle Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. Notable recent solo exhibitions include ‘Head To Mouth’, Berwick Gymnasium (2019), ‘Troubled Waters’, Phoenix Gallery, Exeter (2019), ‘Evaporation’, Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester (2016), ‘Oceans’, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2014). Important recent group exhibitions include ‘UnNatural History’ (curated by Invisible Dust), Herbert Museum & Art Gallery, Coventry (2021), ‘Future Knowledge’, Modern Art Oxford (2018), ‘Women Power Protest’, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (2018) and ‘Vita Vitale’, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2015). In 1991 she was awarded the Barclays Young Artist Award at the Serpentine Gallery, London. In 2015 she was nominated for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women at the Whitechapel Gallery. Kovats’ work is held in numerous public and private collections including the Arts Council Collection, London, British Council, London, National Maritime Museum, London, Government Art Collection, London, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, Jupiter ArtLand, Edinburgh, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven and the Speed Museum, Kentucky. Kovats is currently Professor of Drawing and Making at DJCAD, University of Dundee.

Julia Lohmann

German-born artist, designer and researcher Julia Lohmann (b. Hildesheim, 1977) investigates and critiques the ethical and material value systems underpinning our relationship with flora and fauna. She is Professor of Practice in Contemporary Design at Aalto University, Helsinki, where she also lives. Julia studied at the Royal College of Art, where she has also taught and completed an AHRC-funded collaborative PhD scholarship between the RCA and the Victoria & Albert Museum. As designer in residence at the V&A in 2013, she founded the Department of Seaweed, an interdisciplinary community of practice exploring the sustainable development of seaweed as a design material. As part of her advocacy, she made a seaweed pavilion for the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos to engage delegates with issues facing the natural world. Julia Lohmann’s work is part of major public and private collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has received awards, bursaries and support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the British Council, Jerwood Contemporary Makers, D&AD, Stanley Picker Gallery, Arts Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Richard Long

Richard Long (born Bristol, 1945) has been in the vanguard of conceptual art in Britain since he created A Line Made by Walking over half a century ago in 1967, while still a student. From that time he expanded his walks to wilderness regions all over the world, including a walk in the Alps that was documented by his first text work for the seminal exhibition of Minimal and Conceptual works entitled When Attitude Becomes Form at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. Richard Long was born in Bristol, UK in 1945. He studied at the West of England College of Art, Bristol (1962–65), then St Martin’s School of Art, London (1966–68). Major solo exhibitions include De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands (2019); Fondation CAB, Brussels, Belgium (2018); Houghton Hall, Norfolk, UK (2017); Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2015); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2010); Tate Britain, London, UK (2009); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK (2007); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA, USA (2006); National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan (1996); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1994); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA (1986). He represented Britain at the 37th Venice Biennale (1976) and won the Turner Prize in 1989. He received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture (1990), has been elected to the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2001), awarded Japan’s Praemium Imperiale in the field of sculpture (2009), made a CBE in 2013 and was knighted in the 2018 Honours List.

Tom Waugh

Tom Waugh (b. Tiverton 1978) is a British sculptor working from his Studio in West Somerset. He has been a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors since 2018. In 2005 he gained a First in Architectural Stone Carving at the City and Guilds of London Art School and has spent time in India studying traditional carving techniques with the temple carver Raja Saceran. His carving can be seen on St Pancras Station, St Martin in the fields and St Georges Chapel, Windsor and his Sculptures are exhibited widely and can be seen in the collections of Warwick University and Gladstone’s Library. Large scale public works include ‘The Lens’ at Harrow View West and ‘Leaving’ in the City of London in collaboration with Nicholas Dimbleby. He was a finalist in the 2021 National Sculpture Prize.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your work in Tideline and how does sit within the context of your work?

The first fossil sculpture that I made was a plastic coffee lid carved from a piece of found alabaster. The alabaster comes from Watchet beach in West Somerset and appears as seams in the rock face become dislodged during storms and eventually dissolve into the seawater. I started to picture what the fossils of the future might look like, imagining that the seams appearing in cliffs might show the fossilised traces of plastic pollution to whoever is around to find them.

My other ‘Anthropocene Fossil’ pieces are fossilised vessels of the Petro-chemical industry; an oil barrel and a jerry can. There is a circularity to these works as the Hamstone used is a Jurassic limestone, and most of the crude oil processed by the petro-chemical industry is found trapped within Jurassic or cretaceous limestone.

Q. What can artists and creative thinkers do to engage the public on ocean literacy and climate change, and promote sustainable ways of living with the planet?


I think engaging the public on issues of climate change should be done with a light touch, always maintaining a sense of hope. The climate movement can suffer from fatigue and burnout so the arts should strive to counteract that is some way.


Q. Who or what has inspired and informed you best on these subjects?

Following the movement of meta-modernism, my work is at the same time sincere and ironic. Particularly in my over-life-sized sculptures such as ‘Knife’ and ‘Fork’ the work is accessible and entertaining, whilst at the same time addressing bigger themes and issues.

Q. What are the processes involved in making your work?


I have a very traditional background in architectural stone carving and marble statuary, which I use to create my contemporary pieces. My tools and techniques are very much from the classical tradition, and the marble and limestone that I use is salvaged from reclamation yards or offcuts bought from quarries which would otherwise be crushed or discarded.

When carving my sculptures, I use the real objects that I am representing as Maquettes, studying and replicating the form as I would a piece of drapery. I love the shapes that are created when material is crushed or wrinkled, and representing this accurately adds to the realism and visual impact of my works.