If you are looking for a book that is a little bit different from the usual underwater and dive books, then Strand by Stuart Haygarth has taken environmental art to a new level altogether. Stewart took it upon himself to walk all the beaches along the entire length of the South Coast from Allhallows on Sea on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent through to Lands End in Cornwall. As he made his way along the sand and shingle of the various beaches, he collected litter, flotsam and jetsam. His 38 day journey saw him pick up a huge amount of trash, either left by visitors to the beach, or washed up by the relentless waves bring in trash thrown from boats or carried on ocean currents from far flung places.
Stuart made the trip using his 1982 VW campervan with a custom modified trolley on the back so that he could take all the objects that he collected back home. The campervan was his home and transport for the whole of the 38 days. Those who have ever had one of these vehicles will appreciate just what a feat that is in itself.
The book is amazing with every page (apart from a handful describing why and how he did the project) being dedicated to photographs of the rubbish he managed to collect. It is, of course, not random; one page will have every ball, comb or bottle top that he found lined up in a way that only a true artist can to create really pleasing images. Another page has six rows of broken lighters that are beautifully colour-coordinated and other pages will just have debris that most people wouldn’t look twice at until you see how he has arranged them; truly brilliant.
The book is unique in the way that it can make you feel very sad for humanities’ lack of care for the marine environment, and the sheer amount of rubbish that he managed to collect, and yet also joyous at the art forms created and photographed by Stuart. As you spend more time looking at each image, you find objects that surprise you, shock you and also make you smile. We can only hope that the message about marine pollution is spread far and wide. We also hope that efforts by divers and the general public to clean up beaches, and a general reduction in the current throw-away culture that leads plastic washing up on our beaches, means that this book will be a piece of history that also sees us change our ways.
Strand is a book that you can keep picking up and each time you will find something new to appreciate.
Strand is published by Art / Books in April 2016, £28.00 hardback, www.artbookspublishing.co.uk.
ILLUSTRATIONS 56 colour
SIZE (H x W) 26 x 21 cm landscape
CATEGORY Art, Photography
PUBLICATION April 2016