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Case Study: CodSteaks

This video sees Sue Lipscombe talk about The Bristol Whales, designed and built by CodSteaks, and initiated by Artists Project Earth.
I think art is a fantastic platform for raising awareness. Anything visual I think is so much better than words. I think you can you can write a lot down but I think something with real visual impact, as long as it carries the emotion and the message then I think it can really deliver what you need to tell the story of the problems that we’re having.
Originally I think the concept was to have a very big, probably a fibre glass model, which is not really a good material to work in in terms of in a sculptural industry, and so I proposed that we did a sculpture that involved two whales so that we could see the shape of a mouth and face of a whale if you like, and a tail that was diving.
So we kind of decided to make them two parts, and we sort of approached Somerset Willow Growers who grew the willow and cut it and prepared it for us, it was amazing, and then we collected all the bottles from the Bath Half Marathon, Bristol Half Marathon, which was about 70,000 bottles to sculpt the sea. I think that the link between the real plastic pollutions of the sea, the single use plastics being such a big problem, and then millions and millions of times that they go into our oceans and the damage it does to the wildlife.
I think that a piece of sculpture, if it’s going to be really successful then you’re really going to have to understand what the story is and you’ve really got to build that into the whole process and so we ran a lot of workshops and brought a wildlife cameraman, Doug Allen, to come and talk to children about exactly how whales live and what they feed off and what they eat and teach them a little bit about willow. Teach them a little bit about plastics and how we just really should all have a responsibility to the seas and the future and we really need to cut down our use of plastics.
And I think that the sculpture kind of works because it’s got such a lot of scale to it and the thousands of bottles we wove into it were just beautifully under-lit so at night it really had a real presence, plus we put a blowhole in it, ill-timed blow hole so it would just, it was kind of the right distance apart that each blow was about 4 minutes when people kind of forget it after 3 and it would always kind of have a really great impact with the audience.
We got contacted by people all over the world who saw them and they’ve gone on a lot of different websites and they’ve been awarded and recommended and referenced as a really excellent piece of sculpture to tell the story about plastics in the ocean and I think that we’re all becoming much more aware of it. It’s just like the start of a campaign and it’s important to me, it’s something I feel really passionate about. Since doing the sculpture I learnt a lot, I wanted to learn a lot about sustainability.
I wanted to learn about the kind of things that we should do and change in our responsibility to the world we live in and so the whales for me gave me that opportunity to educate myself. And as I grew and I learnt so much more then it became a really enjoyable piece and a really important piece for me and for our whole team here. In all of the years we’ve been working it’s one of the most important pieces of work we’ve ever done and something we’re incredibly proud of and it’s wonderful that it was here in Bristol.

The Bristol Whales were designed and built by CodSteaks design company and initiated by Artists Project Earth.

Woven willow was twisted and shaped into two dramatic life-size whales exhibited in Bristol.

The whales were surrounded by waves shaped from 70,000 plastic bottles collected from Bristol events. The goal of the piece was to use art to inspire behaviour change and make people think about marine litter and its consequences.

After a brief period of display in Bristol city centre, the whales were relocated to a nature reserve and major routeway into the city. In the eighteenth century, this area was used in the whaling industry.

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