An inspiring art installation in the centre of Bristol that highlights the beauty and fragility of the oceans, and humanity’s impact on them.
APE Founder Kenny Young and Trustee Herbert Girardet were inspired to initiate the Bristol Whales project after both had first-hand experiences of the devastating consequences of human development on the oceans. As a keen oecan swimmer, Kenny had noticed the increasing amounts of plastic pollution on beaches and in oceans all over the world, and through his own work as a Sustainability Consultant, Herbie had documented the devastating impact of climate change on the oceans. “Over the last forty years, we have lost almost 50% of marine life, due to over-fishing, habitat destruction, climate change, pollution and other impacts,” says Kenny. “So we decided that APE’s next project should highlight the beauty and fragility of the oceans, humanity’s imapct upon them and what we can do about it.”
In 2015, Bristol celebrates being the Green Capital of Europe, and APE has worked with Britol-based design company CodSteaks, Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson, @Bristol Science Centre and many other local groups to bring their vision to reality. The whale installation received an Arts Council England grant for ‘outstanding projects of national importance’ and true to APE principles, the sculptures of the two life size whales were created using recycled and sustainable materials by Codsteaks. They were made from willow harvested locally in Somerset and the whales are swimming through an ‘ocean’ of 30,000 plastic bottles, collected from the Bath half marathon and the Bristol 10k race. In addition their construction involved thousands of people in the South West, including 150 Bristol school children. Check-out the fascinating story of the making of the Bristol Whales, here.
The whales were on display at Bristol’s Millennium Square throughout the summer of 2015, where they were a major attraction. Tweets about the whales included: “I’m pledging to use a reusable water bottle, especially since these guys came to town #BristolWhales”, “I wish the #BristolWhales could stay forever” and “#BristolWhales – wish I hadn’t just bought iced coffee in a plastic cup.” “We know the message of the whales got through to a wide audience,” says Herbert Girardet, but we wanted to enhance their educational impact in other ways, so we designed a series of APE Talks to run concurrently with the whale installation.” The sold-out Talks were a great success, with contributions from Jo Ruxton of the Plastic Oceans Foundation, Wendy Stephenson from The Converging World, Dom Ferris from Surfers Against Sewage and a live link-up with the BBC’s Big Blue broadcast. All this was topped off by a preview of the new APE album ‘Oceans’ featuring Rhythms Del Mundo, and our very own Kenny Young doing a specially updated version of his hit song, Uner the Boardwalk.
For more details of the Bristol Whales, please see the attached PDF and watch the video of the making of the Bristol Whales.