Dangers of ghost gear and microplastics showcased in student work

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Plastic pollution and the role people play in the disruption of natural landscapes are at the heart of a project.

Thiis project will be featured in the University of Dundee’s Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2021.

Fine Art graduand Laura Porteous (25), wanted to use her exhibit to highlight the impact humans are having on the planet and their everyday environment.

Laura exhibit - Education News Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. Her project is made up of photography, video, and a physical installation.

Laura, originally from East Lothian, grew up around water and has been incredibly saddened to see the constant build-up of plastic and rubbish on local beaches.

In her piece entitled, ‘The Ocean, The Plastic and The Artist’, she uses human hair to bring home the message that humans are having a direct impact on their environment.

The key piece is a fishing net comprised of two halves woven together – a ‘ghost’ drift net collected from a local beach and a handmade net made using plastic bags and hair.

In drawing comparisons between the harmful consequences of ghost gear and plastic pollution to ocean ecosystems and marine life, Laura hopes her unique take on human environmental impact will surprise viewers and help them see their own impact in a new light.

Laura exhibit - Education News Scotland (1)
Photo by the University of Dundee. Humans shed hair naturally daily, with many people giving as little notice to the plastic they leave behind.

Laura said: “I was inspired to make the environment the focus of my final year project as last year I read an article about how much plastic and fishing gear, described as ghost gear, washes up on shores and harms wildlife.

“I was shocked at the impact it was having and started spending time cleaning up my local beaches and creating artwork to reflect this.

“I want this project to give people the same wakeup call I had and get people thinking about the ways in which they can make a positive change.”

After a challenging start to the academic year, Laura and her classmates were recently allowed back into the studio to complete their work.

Laura exhibit 2 - Education News Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. Unfortunately, this year’s Graduate Showcase is closed to visitors and will take place fully online as a result of ongoing restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “Covid-19 had a slight impact on the scope of my project as I was limited in how much studio equipment I could use.

“However, I am extremely thankful that I was allowed access to the studio later in the semester and that we are still able to display our work, even if it is virtually.

“My time at DJCAD has been a great learning curve and I am look forward to continuing to raise awareness on the plastic pollution problem and develop my artist skillset further now I am finished my time at university.”

The launch of the Graduate Showcase will be broadcast live online on Friday 11 June to students, staff, families, friends and other visitors.

It celebrates the extensive achievements of the graduating students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the department of Architecture within the School of Social Sciences.