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Science can be hard to understand, difficult to access or just plain boring. Art bridges the gap between scientists and the general public. By focusing on visual media, our artists within the team help our researchers create pieces that are simultaneously attention-grabbing and thought-provoking with the goal of creating an open dialogue about current global issues.

Environmental artist Rob Arnold sees the tragedy of Easter Island as a metaphor for the way we are today devouring and polluting the resources of our entire planet, at a rate far faster than they can be replenished.

Rob hopes this artwork will make us pause to remember the people who created the huge statues of Rapa Nui – and how even the greatest of civilisations can collapse if they destroy the ecosystems upon which they depend.

The image that I had in my head months ago when I conceived the idea of a Moai made with polluting plastic fragments collected from the beach. 

Here it is, poignantly looking across the bay from where it was born.

A lesson from History.

The huge, enigmatic heads or moai of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) bear lonely witness to the advanced civilisation that made them long before European explorers arrived there in the early 1700s.

The exact reasons for the islanders' decline are debated, but the traditional theory holds that they chopped down its trees faster than they could regrow. This resulted in soil erosion, loss of habitat and disappearing water sources, which made farming, boat-building, hunting and fishing ever more difficult, resulting in the population's collapse.

Artist, wild woman and storyteller, Jess Grimsdale works predominantly with colouring pencil and cut paper collage to create work inspired by folklore, nature, and colour.


She often works with these themes alongside a passion for environmental activism. Jess is currently working on writing and illustrating a children’s book to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the Arctic.


She was extremely moved by the landscape and wildlife of Svalbard, feeling a very strong presence of folklore and magic there. To her it felt like a world that did not belong to modern civilisation, and so it was devastating to discover plastic there, in some of the most remote places on the planet.


The book will combine this magic with the very real and tangible issue of plastic in a story that children will be able to learn from. Tackling plastic pollution is about starting at the source, and so educating children is more important than ever, because they will be able to make the most difference. Jess is hoping that the book will be completed by the end of 2018. Watch this space!


Flavia is an artist and an environmental activist from a seaside village in Portugal. She draws, does printmaking, and takes part in various sorts of environmental projects and initiatives. She uses Art as a means to face the non-objective aspects of Life, and transform them into concrete objects.

For Sail Against Plastic, Flavia is collaborating with Centro Portugues de Serigrafia, a printmaking studio in Lisbon, as well as producing eco-merchandising and an expedition book.

Flavia Pinto