December Eco-Artist: Kristi, Apex Oceans
Kristi, Apex Oceans - Shark Guardian Interview Questions
Apex Oceans - Shark Guardian Interview Questions
Q1. Hi, Kristi – We are thrilled to have you as our Eco Artist of the Month for December 2021! Tell us a bit about yourself for those who are not familiar with your resin work.
I’m just a farm girl from Wales who has always had a love for art. I have drawn, painted and created for as long as I can remember. My entire family are artists and create some amazing things from all types of mediums; paints, metals and recycled items. I am a PADI and SSI instructor who has a fascination and love for sharks.
I think what people need to understand with the pieces I make, is that some may see resin as harmful, but I see it as something that can be broken down and reused. This means that any pieces that are made by me can also be returned to me when you are finished with it, or you no longer want it - to be broken down and remade Into something more beautiful.
I am so proud to be the Shark Guardian Eco artist for December because I would really love people to reflect, create and design their own thoughts into a physical design that I can make for them .
Q2. You started painting and creating art early on in life – what subjects were you painting before you discovered your love of sharks and marine life?
Prior to being emerged in the ocean my life passion was horses. I grew up on a farm in Wales, UK. I quickly took from a young age drawing, sculpting, painting and metal work of farm animals but mainly horses as they were my escape from reality / lifeline during that time in my life; Which diving art & diving is to me now!
Q3. You mentioned that you’ve done some fundraisers such as getting shark tattoos and taking part in Swim4Sharks, which we love! Tell us a little more about that.
Swim4sharks was always one of my favorite times of the year whilst living out in Koh Tao. I used to help with organization, taking part and other assignments. Every year I would get my swim for sharks tattoo for charity. Each tattoo carries a story, a time, and place which is very special within my heart; and something that we are fighting for not as one person but as units, a group of people from instructors to tourists, and all got involved and everyone who donated to make it a special day for both adults and children.
Q4. Have you had any shark encounters while diving which have inspired your work?
One of the most memorable dive experience I had with sharks was during a night dive on a reef called magic world, and boy was it magic. There were so many sharks! As we shone our torches we realized that we just made dinner really easy for the sharks that were out hunting that night. At one point we observed a feeding frenzy over one fish with about 25 sharks all digging into a chunk of coral trying to catch this fish, it was like watching something out of David Attenborough apart from we were only 7m away from where it’s going on! It was one of the most insane magical moments I’ve ever seen in my life! I came up from the dive and the Watchman said that he could see the frenzy from the surface of the water. I wasn’t in any danger, the sharks were not after us they and had no interest in us.
I have since done many drawings and paintings of those sharks. From all of the events, I’ve even done metalwork, clay sculptures, a resin heart and more. I think my love for underwater photography really came as an inspiration from observing sharks.
Sharks are animals that I want to work with for the rest of my life in whichever way possible. I made this vow to myself the moment that I saw my first shark, probably in the moment that I put my head under water for the first time scuba diving. Sharks need us to save them to educate, understand, and to be better! The real predator are humans, not sharks and this is what we need to tell the word about.
Q5. Tell us what your favorite shark and why?
My favorite TWO sharks, because I can’t just have one. One is the whale shark and the second is the tiger shark. What fascinates me about the whale shark are the great lengths that it travels cross the ocean just to find food, mate and most fascinating of all is that we know almost nothing about them and I would love to get into the sciences to study them. My ideal goal is to work with the tiger sharks both on a personal and scientific level, and an educational level to other divers and to non-divers around the world.
Q6. You have dived in some amazing places – What has been your best shark encounter so far?
Apart from the dive experienced mentioned it in question 4, swimming with 14 whale sharks on a single dive!
Q7. Would you like to get back out teaching diving again or will you stay with doing your art? (Or would you love to combine them?!)
The aim is to get back out diving as soon as possible. The reason that I have been out of the water so long as I broke my back at the beginning of this year, I was bound to a wheelchair having to receive help from carers three times a day. This is also around the same time that I started my company Apex Oceans just a few months before. Just because I run a business does not mean that I cannot continue to pursue my dream of
teaching diving. Teaching diving with sharks has been my goal from the beginning along with helping those with disabilities both mental and physical dive in the water, just the way I did. I also had an opportunity this year to go diving in Spain with my best friend before she headed back to Koh Tao. I do plan on moving forward to Mexico, South Africa, Fiji, anywhere with sharks really. I have managed to overcome something that I thought to beginning of the year was unobtainable in that I did manage to walk again, and I did manage to run a successful business. I want to continue running my business even while being in another country as being in another country shouldn’t stop you doing what you love. And right now I both love my diving and my art.
Q8. What’s been the most challenging piece that you have created?
One of the most challenging pieces I think I had to make this year was a 7” x 7” x 7” tank of a mako shark chasing a tuna at high speed in the depths of the ocean that also breaches the surface. What made this piece more challenging is that I had to make the mould by hand, then each layer had to be evenly timed with the resin to create a layered ocean affect. The next step was to create the uneven surface, like rippling water as the tuna was breaching the surface - this was done using other types of resin that reacts with UV light to create the light specs of water movement and breaching itself along with watermarks coming off the shark which was already submerged in the water piece of resin The client also I wanted a light up base. In total it took around five weeks to make as resin takes a long time cure, as well as making each separate component by hand and also sourcing everything ethically. Finally the piece had to be shipped to America and make it there safely without any damage! What made it even more special is that client had actually come from Shark Guardian when you showcased one of my pieces of art that for the first time on your Instagram and Facebook page!
Q9. Is there a shark that you would love to create a piece featuring but haven’t had the chance to yet?
I would love to create a piece that combines many elements, this includes natural clay, canvas, wire, resin, polymer clay, UV resin, and anything else I can get my hands on including paint, chalk, wood from our local forest, and sand from a beach I love. I would like to create a 3-D piece that is large in size but tells a story… A powerful concept of how shark is our apex ocean animal yet it lies in the balance of humanity along with so many other things on this earth. It’s hard to describe… Maybe I will have to draw a picture of it one day and send it over to Shark Guardian to show you what I mean.
Q10. What current projects are you working on?
I have several current projects I am working on right now. Firstly I am working on the mirror garden to represent beauty and oneself in the beauty of what one loves, this is for my Nan. She loves her garden but she hates to look at herself in the mirror. The design is to create a garden using all dried natural flowers from Gardens and flowers that I’ve been drying out throughout the year then place within a mirror encased with resin and clay designs, so when she looks at her garden she can she her own beauty.
I will be moving more into a custom one-off design base for the larger pieces And have a stockpile of pre-made, handmade products which I am currently supplying on my Apex Oceans website. I also will be moving forward to collaborating with a company which helps Third World countries with sustainable clothing. For each piece of clothing that is made they are producing fresh water, housing, education, and jobs the less fortunate. On top of all of that, all of the clothes that are made are either made from 100% fair trade cotton or recycled materials into up cycled clothing. I would like to bring out my own range of recycled swimwear, that will be further down the line.
Check out Apex Oceans website and social media for more amazing artwork, designs and all of the fun stuff Kristi mentioned above. Your support is greatly appreciated! Happy new year for 2022!