Between the Sea and the Shore is a series about the fascinating underwater gardens of seagrass meadows, translating the delicacy and relevance of these ecosystems while creating an emotional appeal that connects people with nature and its regeneration, for generations to come.
The series is formally divided in three groups, from which the spatial approach to this ecosystem is made: stripes, traces and lines. Stripes represent seagrass meadows on a close-up level, following a lengthy methodical approach to its tonal range while symbolizing various states of growth. Lines explore seagrasses organic features, its movement and fluidity in the sand and underwater, flowing between tides with spontaneous brushstrokes. Traces evoke colour and rhythm, in dialogue with the cotton fibre textures. It holds a bird eye perspective of the landscapes where seagrass meadows grow, among the sandbars and shifting currents of the sea. The use of these different techniques represents the diversity of nature itself, from which we all depend.
About Seagrass Meadows
Seagrass occupy only an estimated 0.1% of the sea's soil, they capture 11% of the oceans sequestered carbon, and that there's a lack of international law for their protection - making the awareness of the local communities pivotal for their preservation, and to promote their regeneration.
Coastal ecosystems of biodiversity, seagrass meadows have the ability to create unique habitats, benefiting themselves and other marine species, while providing resources to our human activities. This simple, yet beautiful environment is one of the richest ecosystems in the world.
Between the Sea and the Shore explores the extraordinary coastlines where seagrass meadows grow, nurturing 3 million people in communities across the world. But these ecosystems are threatened locally and globally, for which bringing attention to their challenges and to their absolute relevance for the health of our oceans - as well as potent agents for the mitigation of climate change - is essential.
This work is already being called into action by the United Nations and by NGO's across the world, such as Ocean Alive (Sado, Portugal), Ibiza Preservation (Spain) and Project Seagrass (UK). However, a larger knowledge and action is necessary from the civil society, in order to further guarantee and expand these efforts already being done.
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. 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 to a third of the human population. 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. 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. 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.
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. It was during this series that I switched to ecological materials: recycled cotton paper and natural pigments. These are now the basis of my sustainable practice.
Of slow and methodical construction, this series celebrates the fragile beauty, formal diversity and value of seagrass meadows, flowing in the intertidal areas and sea currents. I'm inspired by seagrass textures, light, the goodness they provide; in flowing and changing colours, bringing tranquility, rhythm and a calm joy. I worked with a multilevel approach to the visual elements and a careful dialogue with materials: aerial perspectives of the landscapes where seagrass meadows grow, among the ever-changing sandbars and shifting currents of the sea. Seagrass movement and fluidity, in the sand and underwater, flowing between tides with mindful, spontaneous brushstrokes; colour and rhythm, in a dialogue with the textured cotton surface. I hope this series contributes to give visibility to this fragile, yet powerful plant, so we can both enjoy its benefits and pass it on to the future.