BETWEEN THE SEA AND THE SHORE, 2020 | PORTUGUESE MINISTRY OF CULTURE INSTITUTIONAL PARTNER

This ongoing series is inspired by seagrass meadows, a rich, incredible ecosystem supporting ocean life at the Ria Formosa Natural Park and around the world. Through this series, I aim to bring awareness to these beautiful, yet threatened marine flowering plants, and to motivate their protection. I'm inspired by their textures, light, the goodness they provide; in flowing and changing colours, bringing tranquility, rhythm and a calm joy.

ZOSTERA NOLTEI N1

56 x 76cm | Watercolour, 100% cotton paper

ZOSTERA NOLTEI N2

56 x 76cm | Watercolour, 100% cotton paper

Seagrass meadows are extremely rich marine habitats, where animals find partners and shelter; babies are born, and as seagrass provide nurseries and food for many aquatic species, seahorses, turtles, dolphins, dugongs, mollusks, crustaceans, sharks and a vast array of fish depend on these habitats for living. Seagrass meadows hold an incredible thirty times more animals than adjacent sand habitats. Coastal ecosystems of biodiversity, seagrass meadows have the ability to modify their environments to create unique habitats, benefiting themselves and other marine species, while providing many resources to our human activities. Seagrass meadows also contribute to stabilize sediments and reduce coastal erosion; improve water quality and are excellent at storing carbon, being able to capture up to 83 million tons of carbon per year. They are one of the richest ecosystems of the world and the basis of fishing areas, providing 50% of the global fishing industry, supporting communities and nutrition for 3 billion people. Seagrasses have been a resource for humans for the last 10,000 years: across the globe, humans use it for building insulation, roofing, mattress filling, household objects, and fertilizer.

POSIDONIA OCEANICA

56 x 76cm | Watercolour, 100% cotton paper

CYMODOCEA NODOSA N1

56 x 76cm | Watercolour, 100% cotton paper

Seagrasses are flowering plants that live in shallow waters, and in many cases, their lives oscillate between submersion and the surface, according to the tides. Seagrass meadows, mangroves and coastal wetlands capture carbon at a higher rate than tropical forests. While seagrass occupy 0.1% of the sea's soil, they are responsible for 11% of the oceans’ sequestered carbon. Seagrass meadows are also the frontline of coastal protection for people living in seashore areas in the event of a tsunami - a lesson countries learnt following the earthquake in Asia, in the beginning of this century.

 

Like coral reefs and forests, seagrass meadows are receding worldwide due to human activity, and are the least protected coastal ecosystem. It is estimated that we lose seagrass areas equivalent to two football fields per hour, and that a quarter of the species it holds are threatened globally. Seagrass loss affects marine biodiversity, the health of other ecosystems, and human populations. However, the regeneration of these meadows can significantly increase our health, the oceans health, and its carbon storage potential. Approximate calculations show that, if we restore one hectare of seagrass, it corresponds to an astonishing 10-40 hectares of forest on dry land carbon storage potential.

ZOSTERA NOLTEI N5

76 x 56cm | Watercolour, 100% cotton paper

CYMODOCEA NODOSA N2

56 x 76cm | Watercolour, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

The conservation and restoration of seagrass meadows offers the possibility of mitigating carbon in addition to forests, contributing to the stability of sediments and maintaining the biodiversity and nutrition of these ecosystems, among the most productive on Earth and vital to communities worldwide. In Portugal, the most extensive seagrass meadows are found in Sado, Tejo and Mondego estuaries, and in the Rias of Aveiro and Formosa. In the latter, they are also home to two threatened seahorse species. Seagrass meadows are fundamental to the functioning of these water ecosystems, and are very vulnerable in terms of conservation. Since there is no international regulatory legislation for seagrass, its protection depends on the implementation of regional and local measures, making it even more important to inform people about this precious ecosystem.

CYMODOCEA NODOSA N3

38 x 56cm | Handmade natural pigment, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

CYMODOCEA NODOSA N4

38 x 56cm | Handmade natural pigment, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

Between the sea and the shore is dedicated to these beautiful habitats and to everything they provide us. I hope this work gives visibility to this rich, incredible ecosystem while making viewers sensible to its role in ocean life and contribute to its regeneration. I am inspired by the sensory qualities of seagrass: texture, evoking its tranquillity and calm. Its colours, tones, rhythms and formal changes, representing its different species, scales and perspectives of observation. Seagrass meadows convey considerations about what a home is: home for the species that live in them, part of the larger home that is our planet, with its contribution to biodiversity, atmospheric quality, resources and beauty. As a medium, I use watercolour, a material that evokes the softness, pleasantness and fluidity of these aquatic plants. Of slow and methodical construction, this ongoing series celebrates the fragile beauty, formal diversity and value of seagrass meadows, flowing in the intertidal areas and sea currents.
 

CYMODOCEA NODOSA N6

38 x 56cm | Handmade natural pigment, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA NOLTEI N4

38 x 56cm | Handmade natural pigment, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA NOLTEI N3

56 x 76cm | Handmade natural earth and botanical pigment, synthetic watercolour, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA MARINA N1

56 x 76cm | Organic coffee, handmade natural earth pigment, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA MARINA N2

56 x 76cm | Natural pigment and fig ink, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA MARINA N4

56 x 76cm | Natural pigments, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA MARINA N3

56 x 76cm | Natural pigments, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

ZOSTERA MARINA N5

56 x 76cm | Natural pigments, handmade 100% recycled cotton paper

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All images throughout this website, unless otherwise stated, are courtesy of Lígia Oliveira

Lígia Oliveira © 2020