'Stranded' 2 Feb - 5 July 2015

'Stranded', 2015

The saying goes that one person’s trash is another’s treasure and that is certainly the case for Hertfordshire born artist, Jo Atherton. With a new exhibition opening on February 2 at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth, Stranded features her colourful tapestries, created from fishing line, netting, rope and other unexpected items left washed up on our beaches by the great ocean currents.

Stranded opens at the Quarterdeck Gallery, National Maritime Museum with Plenty More Fish in the Sea (2014) woven from flotsam gathered on Cornwall's Atlantic coast.

Joanna’s weavings command a closer look. The orphaned objects, a miniscule fraction of the millions of tonnes of marine litter that enter our seas every year, are rescued and gathered together to tell new stories.

Joanna says: “I don’t know whether an obsessive personality is a prerequisite of the diligent beachcomber, or if I am stirring up something much older; a primeval instinct from our hunter gatherer days. Either way, I am leaving the beach a little bit cleaner as a result of my flotsam weaving.”

'Cornish Blue', 2014

As well as the opportunity to view Joanna’s tapestries, visitors to the exhibition can also contribute to their own flotsam creation.  Visitors are invited to choose from a selection of found objects including bubble wands, fishing lures and flowers or bring along their own pieces of flotsam to add to a lobster pot art installation.

Jo Atherton speaking at the exhibition launch with the Stranded lobster pot - a public art installation

Joanna continues: “For as long as I can recall, walks on the beach would result in me proudly gathering an assortment of treasures and well-travelled trinkets.  I am awestruck by the disparate collection of flotsam I find on the high water mark of British beaches and am continually fascinated by their origins. By weaving these items together into one composition, I could consider their stories – where did they come from? Who did they belong to? How long have they been at sea?”

Visitors enjoying the exhibition

Tehmina Goskar, Exhibitions Registrar at the Maritime Museum says: “The Maritime Museum has been wanting to highlight the serious and growing problem of marine litter in our seas for some time.  Jo’s highly original and thoughtful flotsam tapestries presented us with a great opportunity to explore the detritus that washes up on our beaches in a playful and unexpected way.  I hope Stranded will make our visitors think differently when they are next taking a stroll on the coast.”

The Stranded exhibition opened on 2 February and runs until 5 July at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth. Listen to Jo talk about the exhibition on BBC Radio Cornwall via iPlayer.

About Jo Atherton
Jo is a prize-winning mixed-media artist and has previously exhibited in Boston, USA, London Luton Airport, and galleries in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and London. She has an MA in Cultural and Critical Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London, and a BA (Hons) in English from the University of Winchester. She also teaches and runs workshops centred on the themes of flotsam and the act of weaving.

Find out more: www.flotsamweaving.com

Follow on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/@FlotsamWeaving