SOUP is a description given to plastic debris suspended in the sea, with particular reference to the mass accumulation that exists in an area of The North Pacific Ocean known as the Garbage Patch.
The SOUP series aims to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction, with an awareness of the disturbing statistics that dispersed plastics have no boundaries, having a harmful affect on marine life and the biodiversity of the planet.
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. The first ten images represent the mass accumulation of plastic that exists in the North Pacific Gyre with plastic recovered from the UK, Europe and Alaska. The remaining ten images highlight the waste issue in Hong Kong with plastic debris collected from over 30 different beaches in Hong Kong over three years. This ongoing body of work aims to stimulate a response and create an awareness to encourage social responsibility.
Ingredients; nurdles – the industrial raw material of plastic collected from six different beaches.
(from 2 locations in the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea).
Nurdles are pre-production resin pellets, less than 5mm in diameter. They are melted down to produce plastic objects and products. From accidental spillage at sea to escaping from manufacturing factories, they travel down drains, along rivers, and out into the ocean where they are eaten by marine creatures, birds and fish that mistake them for food.
A major contributor to marine debris nurdles are found in the digestive tracts of many marine creatures, causing physiological damage by leaching plasticizers such as phthalates. In the marine environment nurdles act as ‘sponges’ and can carry two types of micro pollutants: native plastic additives and hydrophobic pollutants absorbed from seawater. For example, concentrations of PCBs and DDE on nurdles collected from Japanese coastal waters were found to be up to 1 million times higher than the levels detected in surrounding seawater.
Nurdles are also referred to as mermaids’ tears.
Ingredients; plastic turtles that have circled and existed in The North Pacific gyre for 16 years.
This image shows the original children’s bath toys marketed by ‘The First Years, Inc.’ that were washed overboard from twelve 40-ft containers on 10 January 1992. Manufactured in China, they were on their way from Hong Kong to Washington when a storm close to the International Date Line in the North Pacific washed the 28,800 toys overboard. The toys for this image were recovered from the coast of Alaska in 2008.
Additives; ducks, beavers and frogs.
SOUP: Ruinous Remembrance
Ingredients; plastic flowers, leaves, stems and fishing line.
Additives; bones, skulls, feathers and fish.
A disturbing mixture of objects that would not normally, and should not, be found together in the natural environment. Various plastic flowers, leaves and ferns with a plastic clothing tag and fishing line, found alongside natural objects on the shoreline.
Ruinous – to remind us of the environment we are continuing to affect.
Remembrance – to remember the marine creatures we have already affected.
Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube.
Additives; teeth from animals.
All plastic recovered from the shoreline of a Greek Island in the Aegean Sea. Attempted ingestion by goats on the shoreline led to this collection being recovered on its way back out to sea.
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯 Lotus Garden
A collection of different species of waste artificial flowers that would not exist at the same flowering time in nature and should not be found in the ocean. The Lotus flower has associations with beauty as early as Guofeng in the Book of Poetry, written 3,000 years ago, where concerns are with the common senses of nature and everyday life, the underlying message in this image.
Includes; lotus flowers, leaves and petals, peony, carnation, rose, blossom, holly, ferns, castor and ivy leaves.
(Flowers part of a collection recovered from various beaches over the past 3 years).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Spilt
Representing 150 tonnes of nurdles, (pre-production pellets) spilt from a cargo container during Typhoon Vicente on 23rd July 2012, adds to Hong Kong’s waste issues in the sea and on its beaches. The image mirrors the night sky on the day of the spillage depicting a collection from 6 of the worst affected beaches; Po Toi, Beaufort Island, (3 August 2012), Sam Pak Wan, Discovery Bay (10 August 2012), Tung O Wan, Lamma Island (15 October 2012) Cheung Sha Wan, Lantau Island (18 October 2012) Lo Chau, Beaufort Island, (1 November 2012) and South Soko Island beach (8 November 2012).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Polystyrene
Representing 52 tonnes of polystyrene foam dining ware that goes into landfill each day. Foam pieces litter every beach in Hong Kong.
Includes; polystyrene dining ware, packaging, balls, toys and fishing related debris.
(Polystyrene collected from 5 different beaches over 1 week, 2013).
Statistics - The Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong. Waste Statistics for 2012.
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Wildlife
Plastic ice lolly wrappers and syringes collected from one visit to three different beaches on Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, and the New Territories.
Includes; seahorse, dolphin, elephant, crocodile, pig, cat, bear and fruits, with Chinese New Year animals; snake, rabbit and pig.
(Recovered from Waterfall Bay, Hong Kong Island 2013, Tong Fuk Beach, Lantau Island 2013, and Lung Kwu Tan, New Territories 2014).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Poon Choi
10 objects of municipal waste collected from 10 different beaches relate to the Hong Kong’s traditional village New Year dish, Poon Choi, comprising of 10 layered ingredients that go into this one-pot meal.
Includes; child’s sandal, retail mannequin hand, race duck, ribbon, spectacle frame, toy dinosaur, fishing float, shipping tag, pocket game and toy boat.
(Collected from 10 different beaches in Hong Kong, November 2013).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Transform
Recovered toy transformers reflect inadequate disposal of children’s toys, with the message to TRANSFORM the habits and behaviour of the public in Hong Kong, the emphasis being to take action.
Includes; ACTION figures.
(Transformers part of a collection recovered from various beaches over past 3 years).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Soko
Waste collected from the Soko Islands represents the contour of the beaches and shape of the islands from where the waste was collected.
Includes; medical, agricultural, and fishing related waste, whilst highlighting the dragon and fan, symbolic items within Chinese culture.
(Part of a collection recovered from the Soko Islands over the past year).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Packet
Waste packaging from single use food and drink items, household products, with medical and hazardous waste.
Includes; bottle tops and bottles, plastic gift wrap from Shenzhen miniature village, condoms, and an IV antibiotic bag. Take-away food packaging lies next to a bottle of bleach and a confectionery phone packet implies communication in the need for change.
(Collected from Tsing Lung Tau & Port Shelter Beach, 2012 and 2013).
Hong Kong Soup:1826 湯Lighter
Discarded cigarette lighters make reference to our single use Throw Away society. The Panda motif, a national emblem of China, faces away from the group representing endangered species with mother nature turning its back on man’s inability to take ownership of its waste, and serving as a metaphor for our future and ultimately our own mortality.
(Lighters part of a collection recovered from various beaches in Hong Kong over past 3 years).