Art from the Unseen

Introducing "Art from the Unseen": Join us for an exciting new venture showcasing the talents of local artists in an exhibition during the Autumn Arts Week Festival in Beaumaris, scheduled for October 2023. Inspired by the captivating world of ocean plankton, this exhibition, aptly named "Art from the Unseen," aims to forge a connection between art and the microscopic wonders of the sea.

Unveiling the Hidden Powerhouses: Despite their small size, ocean plankton are a force to be reckoned with. While comprising only 1/500th of the biomass of their terrestrial counterparts, they produce an equivalent amount of organic material and oxygen each year. In fact, every second breath we take gains its oxygen from these unseen microscopic organisms. The plankton's extraordinary capabilities allow them to punch well above their weight, making them one of the two major biological powerhouses on our planet.

Appreciating the Unseen World: As someone who has devoted their career to studying the ecological dynamics of plankton, I’m all too familiar with the challenges of grasping the nature of these organisms as individuals. Their small size makes it difficult for us to intuitively comprehend their dynamics. However, their shape and form offer a tangible point of connection. Through art, we can explore and appreciate the incredible beauty and power of these microscopic creatures. This exhibition marks our first exploratory step towards that goal.

Why Plankton as Inspiration: The plankton harbor astonishing and beautiful structures, which are allowed by their unique environment. Unlike terrestrial organisms, plankton thrive in a tranquil oceanic realm, free from the stresses of high winds, temperature variations, and droughts. Their buoyancy eliminates the structural constraints imposed by gravity, while ocean turbulence keeps them suspended in three-dimensional space, optimizing their photosynthetic capacity. These factors, coupled with their small size, enable complex symmetries and intricate forms rarely seen among their terrestrial counterparts.

Our Journey so Far:  We have worked with artists in the Anglesey/North Wales area, first giving them some general understanding of role of plankton in the overall biological dynamics of the ocean and provided them with an initial insight into wonders of planktonic shape and form.  Subsequently, with the generous help of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences and that of a dozen dedicated and talented student volunteers, we have enabled the artists to see live plankton under the microscope.  This event was a source of great excitement for everyone involved.

The Exhibition:  A collection of the work by the artists coming out of this will be shown in the Beaumaris Canolfan in October.  The full Exhibition will start on the Friday 6th Oct (6-8pm) and continues (10am-6pm) over that weekend.  From Monday May 9th onwards it will run, slightly reduced to allow space for other activities in the room, on Fridays to Sundays (10am-6pm) until Friday 27th Oct. There is no entry fee.

Finding Plankton Images:  For details of sources of plankton images click on to the following link or go to the Silent Plankton Website

Don't miss this opportunity to experience the unseen world of plankton through the eyes of talented local artists. "Art from the Unseen" is a unique and captivating event that will leave you with a newfound appreciation of the beauty and importance of these microscopic wonders. See you at the exhibition!

Books and references

Follow the link above to read more.

Compiled by Peter Williams, with input from Dylan Evans, Maurice Lock and Janet Smith, Welsh translation by Dylan Evans and Web construction by Carolyn Warburton.