Gemma Copp, a Welsh artist whose work is animated by the coast of Swansea, and Annie Thibault, a Canadian artist who frequently engages with the biology of aquatic life, present assemblages of fluid materiality and matter drawn from the sea and configured in series of studies. Both artists consider material forms in terms of their relationality: salt, algae, plastic, and seawater come together and begin to question and problematize distinctions. At times unexpected and ambiguous, these explorations of the micro and macro sensibilities of salt water encompass the ethics of environmental degradation: material waste, geological erosion, and the seemingly endless yearn to connect with non-human life. Placed together, the work of Copp and Thibault also situates these vastly differing coast lines into connection, creating hybrid configurations of aquatic life.
Ephemeral Coast links the bays of Swansea, Port Talbot and Carmarthen with coastal spaces internationally, including Mauritius, the USA, and Canada. Working with an array of artists, climate change scientists and writers from the humanities, the exhibition seeks to develop a nexus of understanding between art, empathy, and the degradation of the ocean.
A series of exhibitions will unfold across the region from early 2017 to Spring 2018, each addressing a different approach to imaging and imagining the demise of the ocean as witnessed through coastal visuality.
This research was supported by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.