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a plastic tide seen through future eyes…

Suffolk artist Fran Crowe has been collecting plastic litter from the beaches near her home for more than 10 years in an attempt to stem the tide of plastic flooding our shores…

In 2007 she collected 460001 pieces in an effort to ‘save’ one square mile of sea after reading about the terrible impact plastic in our seas has on marine life. She uses the plastic she collects to create huge artworks and tongue-in-cheek ‘souvenirs’ to draw attention to the plight of our oceans and their wildlife2.

Fran says: “We are using up a huge amount of our limited oil reserves (an estimated 8%) creating plastics, one-third of which we will only use once (for example, plastic cups, bottles, cotton bud sticks and bags). Yet plastic in our seas lasts indefinitely, just breaking down eventually into smaller and smaller pieces which enter the food chain when it is digested by marine and river wildlife and even ending up as food on our plates!”

As part of her project, Museum of Beyond, Fran imagines a time beyond oil: the oil has run out and we live very different lives without plastics… and yet the plastic debris from our 21st century lives is still washing up on the seashore. What will people make of these items - and what will they think about us?? The Museum of Beyond imagines this future.

And now Fran has created a roaming mobile gallery in a vintage horsebox “Art in a box” to house her museum. Thanks to support from Anglian Water’s Keep it Clear Love Our Seaside campaign there’s a chance to explore her collections in Southwold (see dates below) - and you can add to the Museum too!

• Tuesday 9th August - Harbour Quay East carpark, near the Alfred Corry Museum. 10am - 5pm
• Wednesday 17th August - by Southwold pier, 10am - 5pm.

Look out for the Museum at Folkeast too from 19th - 21st August at Glemham Hall Grounds, Suffolk.

“What I’m doing may seem like just a splash in the ocean”, says Fran, “but there are lots of small things we can all do things to help reduce the amount of plastic in our seas. I really hope that seeing the Museum and exhibition will inspire people to think differently about plastic. Reducing our use of single use plastics, like bottles, cotton bud stems, cups and bags, and not flushing items down the loo that contain plastic such as wet wipes and cotton buds is a great place to start.”

New contributions to the Museum are always welcome: just bring your object (a plastic beach find) to Fran’s roaming gallery at Southwold. Fran continues: “Southwold beach is an amazing place for my exhibition - I can’t wait to see what people find and bring to the museum.”

You can find out more about Fran’s work on her website and about the Museum at

Anglian Water's Keep It Clear Love Our Seaside campaign aims to encourage holidaymakers and local residents to care for the region’s much-loved beaches, and make sure the seas are kept clean and healthy for people and wildlife.

The East of England is home to roughly a quarter of the UK’s best bathing waters thanks to significant investment bringing about improvements in quality of the coastal waters, but sewer blockages can wreak havoc and lead to pollution of the beach and the sea.
 Fat poured down sinks and wipes and bathroom waste flushed down toilets cause a big problem in the sewers leading to 30,000 blockages a year.  Around 800 tonnes of cooking fat, wipes and sanitary items are being flushed every week in the East, clogging sewers, risking harming the environment.



1. A United Nations Environment Programme Report “Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas” in 2006 estimated that on average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating on every square mile of sea. See The report estimated that the amount of marine plastic would double every 2 to 3 years.
2. The same report estimated that more than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and over one million seabirds die every year due to entanglement with or ingestion of plastics.

More details and links

Fran Crowe
Playful but deadly serious, Fran’s work, above all, questions our contemporary addiction to consumerism and its consequences - especially for the marine environment. Her installations offer a tongue-in-cheek but frank self-portrait of ourselves: a kind of contemporary - and disturbing - archaeological dig.
Fran has exhibited widely both in England and overseas - her work was recently part of the prestigious GYRE exhibition at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska and other museums.
You can see more of her projects on her website

Anglian Water - Keep it clear campaign – Love Our Seaside
The Love Our Seaside campaign is on tour in Southwold, Clacton, Skegness, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Southend, Hunstanton and West Mersea throughout August. The family friendly events will feature the Mad Science crew who keep kids entertained and educated with their madcap experiments, as well as our team of cartoon coastal creatures. Three protected characters – the common seal, short-snouted seahorse and the nativeoyster - will help spread the water company’s Keep It Clear messages. They’ll help explain more about the nasty things that happen to sewers if fats and wipes are put down the pipes. In Southend a sand sculpture event is being held. See details of the Love our Seaside events at:

For more information about marine litter:
For things we can all do to help reduce plastics in our oceans see

see for more details.

Photos of previous Museum of Beyond installations below.

museum of beyond images