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August Eco-Artist: Janet, Curb Beach Plastic

Curb Beach Plastic - Shark Guardian Interview Questions

Q1. Hi, Janet – We’re thrilled to have you as our Eco Artist of the Month for August! Tell us a bit about yourself for those who are not familiar with your work.

Thanks so much for having me as you Eco-Artist this month. I am an environmental artist from Kommetjie, which is a coastal town on the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. I grew up with my family not far from where I live now. Growing up I spent a lot of time sailing; my weekends and holidays were spent doing that and hanging out on the beach with my friends. I count myself lucky to still live near the ocean with my husband and two young boys.

Q2. When did you get started as an artist?

I have always loved to draw and paint. I think perhaps something I was inspired to do from my grandfather who loved to paint himself. In high school I realized that I enjoyed art a lot more than academics and decided to go to Art College in Cape Town where I finished with a commercial matric. After college I worked for a boat charter company for 10 years. I then started my own wooden word wall art business and it has kept me very busy for the past 10 years. It was in late 2018 though that I decided to start making art from the trash I was collecting off the beaches. I think it was only in the year to follow that I felt like art was going to be a real part of my life.

Q3. Was there one particular visit to the beach that inspired you to start Curb Beach Plastic? Or did it evolve over a longer period of time?

I don’t think there was one particular visit that made me decide to start. Over the past few years, I definitely started noticing more and more rubbish on our beaches.

I then realized that there are many people globally using beach plastic as a medium to create amazing art to help create awareness. I really related to this way of creating something visual that would have an impact on people.

Q4. What’s the strangest thing you have found on a beach clean that you have turned into art?

I can’t think of one thing that was particularly strange. I do however have a favorite piece of plastic that I found in 2019 which says the word “art” on it. One day when I have some money to spend on myself again, I would love to have a jeweler set it for me as bracelet or pendant perhaps.

Q5. What’s been the best thing you have seen snorkeling? (and have you ever seen any sharks?)

My favorite snorkeling experiences was off Inhaca Island in Mozambique. It was an incredible experience for me. You start on the incoming tide at the edge of a beach drop off near an inlet between the spit of mainland and the island. We all just drifted along with the tide. There were so many different sizes and species all around us. It’s something I find hard to explain to you in words. We had spent a week at Santa Maria which is a remote village on the mainland across from this drop off and it was only on the day before we were leaving that we went to do this snorkel. If we had known it was so special, we would have done it every day with the tide. Definitely a place we would all like to visit again.

I have never seen any sharks snorkeling. Like most people I do feel quite nervous about seeing them in the wild. It is a fear I would like to challenge one day as I do realize that sharks don’t all have an aggressive nature and shouldn’t be feared, just respected.

Q6. Is there a particular marine creature you would love to feature in your art?

Good question, I had to think about this one. I have never done an Orca or a Whale Shark both of which I would love to see in the wild. We are hoping to visit Tofo in Mozambique one day to experience the Whale sharks. I have also been asked by someone to make a Weedy Seadragon which will be very interesting to attempt.

Q7. How long does each piece typically take to create?

People often ask me this question. It is honestly complicated to answer. But these are the points that dictate the time needed:

  • Do I just tell you the time it took me to sit and put the pieces to paper?

  • Or, do I work in the time it took me cleaning the beach, sorting the useable pieces from the rest of the trash, washing it and sorting it?

  • How old the plastic is?

  • How long the plastic has been in the ocean?

So, there is no definite answer here. But the sitting and creating part really depends on the size and detail of the piece. Some might take an hour or two but others a lot longer. I don’t normally record this and I stop and start. I recently finished the largest piece I have made to date called “The Source” and it took me a few weeks and many many hours because of the detail. No idea how many hours in total.

Q8. What are your other interests outside of creating your artwork?

Obviously, I love the beach and spend a lot of time on it either with my dog, Samson, or with my kids and husband who like to surf. Surfing is something I wish I’d started when I was younger and a skill I am determined to conquer still. At the moment it's more of a laughing session. It's known as a “MOM, just stand up!” session because that’s what I get yelled at continuously.

I also love to run and my love for trail running has only really been concreted recently. I try to trail run once a week if I can manage to join with the other ladies I run with. Unfortunately, its not safe enough to run on your own so it’s not as easy as just lacing up and going.

Q9. How can people best support Curb Beach Plastic? Can you ship your art internationally (as we’re sure our followers would love to know!)?

I suppose the best way is to either share or buy my work, or both! I hope that by sharing it will create a talking point around the bigger problem of the medium I use, beach plastic. Obviously by buying it you support me too which I am very grateful for. I can ship internationally, unfortunately shipping from South Africa is never very cheap but I have just secured a better rate for shipping so I am hoping this will help.

I recently sent a small piece to Ireland which cost about R260 (13 pounds/18 US dollars) and took about 3 days to arrive. Which I was very happy with.


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