I was about eight when I rushed into the nearest jeweller, holding a green pebble…
Simultaneously idealistic, ambitious and ignorant, I believed that I had uncovered an uncut emerald, washed up on the surf-sown Suffolk coast. My mum went with the plan – or at least I hope so, as the jeweller’s withering expression told us it was glass almost instantly. Oddly I don’t remember being disappointed, only surprised that a humble bottle could transform into something so jewel-like; and I kept it – hidden among my prized toy mouse collection.
The reason I tell this tale is, like the best Disney animations, it has a moral – that of recognising beauty in the unexpected, and appreciating the synergy between us and our environment. All too often, I believe that nature is presented in conflict to humankind – a battle typified by Burtnsky in his scarred landscapes. Yet, perhaps increasingly less frequently, a symbiotic, more positive relationship can take place – forests regrown, species introduced, the idyllic Eco tree house; these are the scenes that I pay homage to. The most interesting example being that of the glass beach.
Located in Fort Bragg, California, Glass Beach is the culmination of litter and weathering, a cycle of use to decay to the visually stimulating and impactful. I would like to think that this beach dissuades wastage, but the fact that it impresses more than it repels is testament to the resilience and force of nature. Obviously, rainbow-lover that I am, I am drawn to the multicoloured stones like a warthog to a waterhole. However, it is the transformation of the site that fascinates me most – a metamorphis from an untarnished coastline, to dump in 1949 and now a visage of polished glass. Now the site is protected, which just goes to show that “what comes around, goes around“… In this case rubbish (with a little aesthetic help from nature).