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Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems: A European conference for the marine environment 3-4 March 2014, Brussel

Art exhibit

Maria Betti

Exhibition of the art piece "Havsverket/ Sea U later” of Artist Johan Bloom in the lobby area of the Charlemagne Building throughout the duration of the Conference.

In autumn 2012, the artist Johan Bloom was asked by the project "Ren kust" (Clean Coast) to make a visual representation of marine litter. Just one day was enough to collect and fill his studio with "quality junk" out of which he fashioned a 7-meter-high creation. The installation reminds us – and alerts us – about the situation of our oceans. At the same time – in its awkward attempt to look pretty, dressed up in its midsummer clothing – it strives to make us think outside the box.


"We rush through life and our thoughtless
way of living creates a throw-away
society where we transform
beautiful areas into deposit of waste."

Johan Bloom

Watercolours by Johan BloomMaria Betti

We are as humans made up of the same percentage as the total coverage of the planet,  70% of water, colouring our lives, the rest is who we are. That 30% can make a difference if determined.   A jellyfish is made of 96% of water, 3%salt and 1% organic material….still it has a strong will.
The titles “Seeds, Seedcases and Seedlings of thought” points out that every change starts with a tiny seed of a new idea or thought.

 I am planting and nursing seedlings in the lobby of this conference with H.O.P.E. of change!

Photographer Mandy BarkePhotographer Mandy Barker will be exhibiting her photo series “SOUP” during the conference.

SOUP is a description given to plastic debris suspended in the sea, and with particular reference to the mass accumulation that exists in an area of The North Pacific Ocean known as the Garbage Patch.
The series of images aim to engage with, and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction and social awareness. The sequence reveals a narrative concerning oceanic plastics from initial attraction and attempted ingestion, to the ultimate death of sea creatures and representing the disturbing statistics of dispersed plastics having no boundaries.
All the plastics photographed have been salvaged from beaches around the world and represent a global collection of debris that has existed for varying amounts of time in the world’s oceans.

SOUP: Refused
Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Additives; teeth from animals.

deep-sea fishA curious 5 metre long 'deep-sea fish' washed ashore on the beach of Ostend in the night of 15 January 2014. Washed ashore, it soon became clear that the animal, named 'Plastic Mer-trans', was not a newly discovered rare species, but rather a communication action by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).

VLIZ's aim is to underline the plastic problem in the world's oceans. The annual global production of plastic has exponentially increased since 1950 to almost 300 million tonnes today, of which Europe accounts for about 50 million tonnes. The annual input of plastics in the North Sea is estimated at 20 000 tonnes, corresponding to an amount of two hundred thousand 'Plastic Mer-trans' – placed in a line, it would stretch from Ostend to the south of France.

Larger plastic fragments are known to cause entanglement and obstruction in more than 600 species of whales, seals, sea birds, turtles, etc. When larger plastic litter is fragmented into smaller pieces ('micro-plastic'), it enters the food web via mussels, worms and crustaceans. Not only can this cause physical damage to the small animals in question, it may possibly also bring pollutants present in the ocean, which "stick" to these plastic micro-plastics, directly onto our dinner plates. At least as important as the knowledge of the negative impacts on the ocean and on marine life, is to know how we should tackle this problem and deal with unsustainable use of plastics. Plastic in itself is not the problem – the use of plastics in our modern society is overall a success story – but the careless way we deal with it can have serious negative effects.

Take a selfie of you and the Monster at the Conference to show your friends and colleagues the importance of protecting the sea #HOPE4EUSEAS

deep-sea fishA photo exhibit will feature vibrant underwater images captured over the years by Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation organization, during annual at-sea expeditions in the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic.

These iconic species and rich, colorful habitats are not only beautiful, they also each play a vital role in maintaining our oceans’ balanced ecosystems. Today, less than 2% of the world’s oceans are protected and 75% of Europe’s fish stocks are overfished.



deep-sea fishThe photo exhibition “Nice to Sea?” traces 10 years of collaboration of Surfrider Foundation Europe with the communication agency Young & Rubicam Paris in its fight against marine litter. Waste resulting from human activity and which ends up in oceans, seas and water streams has devastating effects on the marine environment.

The fifteen or so posters that make up the exhibition are all part of striking, provoking and endearing communication campaigns which were designed to promote Surfrider Foundation Europe ‘s “Ocean Initiatives”. Ocean Initiatives, both awareness-raising operations and waste collection activities on the seabed, beaches, lakes and rivers, have been organised by Surfrider Foundation Europe in all Europe for 19 years now.







Artists' biographies

Mandy Barker Mandy Barker

Mandy Barker is a photographer based in the UK, and since graduating from a Masters Degree in Photography at De Montfort University in 2011 her series SOUP has received international recognition, being published in over 20 countries. Her work has featured in publications from Time Magazine, GEO, and The Financial Times to The Explorers Journal US. Mandy has been nominated twice in 2012 and 2013, for the prestigious Prix Pictet Award, which is the world’s leading photographic award in sustainability.

In 2012 Mandy was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Environmental Bursary which enabled her to join scientists aboard a Plastic Research Expedition sailing from Japan to Hawaii through the Tsunami Debris Field in the Pacific Ocean. This opportunity created a solid foundation for her next project and continuing work.

Mandy was a guest speaker at The Plastic Free Sea’s Youth Conference, Hong Kong, in November, 2013. In February 2014, she will present her work at the GYRE exhibition at The Anchorage Museum, Alaska, USA. In May 2014 Mandy is undertaking a residency with The Sirius Art Centre, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, where she will produce a series of work highlighting the marine debris issue in and around Cork harbour.  

Mandy Barker Johan Bloom

“As an islander on the West Coast of Sweden, or on the brink of the Indian Ocean, where I grew up; I breathe, depend and live by the sea.”

Johan Bloom is a fulltime artist and painter since 1988. He was born 1964 in Sweden. He is presently working at the Nordic watercolour museum with an outreach programme; Campaign for drawing.

The artist Johan Bloom was asked by the project “Ren kust - Clean Coast” to visualize marine littering. One day was enough to collect and fill the studio with "quality junk", of which a 8-meter-high ’Christmas tree’ was built. The installation, in different versions, has now been used on several occasions to promote awareness of marine life and pollution, in Sweden. One of the occasions was the OSPAR meeting in Gothenburg.