About

Biography

Jo has exhibited her work at a number of national and international venues including the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, London Luton Airport and the Fringe Arts Bath festival. She frequently speaks about her work and was recently invited to talk at the University of Cambridge as part of their Curious Objects exhibition. Jo will also be presenting her work at a forthcoming conference, Postcards from the Anthropocene, taking place at the University of Edinburgh this June.

Jo Atherton's tapestries, woven with flotsam gathered on the UK coastline
Jo Atherton’s tapestries, woven with flotsam gathered on the UK coastline

In addition, 2017 will see Jo working with the international eXXpedition sailing crew as their London Artist in Residence to run a series of community workshops at the famous Cutty Sark in Greenwich, drawing attention to the growing marine litter problem.

A Pioneer Cultural Provider with Culture Challenge, Jo regularly shares her creative practice in schools, running workshops and teaching pupils about the importance of recycling and sustainability. This year, Jo is working on more inspiring workshops and is studying on the United Nations Environment Programme to expand her teaching repertoire in this field.

Jo has written for Elementum Journal, The Journal of Weavers Spinners & Dyers and the Plastic Pollution Coalition. She is currently writing 50 Things, an anthology of objects collected on the UK coastline, exploring storytelling through material culture. She returned to Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall, for a second time in December 2016 as Artist in Residence.

Statement

Oceanographers and biologists can study the state of our seas and all the processes contained therein, but intercepting the tideline offers a unique resource for artistic interpretation of would-be relics of the future.

Our oceans have become a soup of flotsam; a suspension of orphaned objects temporarily deposited on our coastline twice a day. These plastic fragments are symptomatic of the modern age. Indeed prior to the Second World War and the advent of mass produced plastics, beachcombing the tideline would result in an organic bounty – a smoothed piece of driftwood, or perhaps an unusual shell, not the man-made and toxic detritus so common on beaches of the world today.

Through my work I highlight the diversity of plastic objects washing ashore on the British coastline, and how the ubiquity of this material enables us to reinterpret stories of our time. The longevity of plastic allows many discarded items to undergo incredible transatlantic journeys before settling as a disparate collection of relics along the shore.

Notwithstanding obvious environmental concerns, intercepting the  tideline reveals the pervasiveness of plastic in our lives and in turn, affords insights into our tastes, lifestyles and histories.