Person holding a bowl full of material from wetlands

Artist collaborates with Biocomposites Centre to develop sustainable materials which tell their own story of the land

A North Wales artist is working closely with Bangor University’s Biocomposites Centre to create new composites derived from natural materials which can be used to create artworks, whilst highlighting the need to care for our natural environment.

“Dr Curling has supported me whilst I’ve explored various methods of bringing together waste grasses from Cors Erddreiniog, powdered mussel shells, lime, wool and biochar, which is produced from the grass. It’s an ongoing process of trial and error, and many material samples have gathered in my studio! One of my favourites is made from pulped grass, mussel shells and a wool base, bound together with alginate, a derivative of seaweed."

“Dr Julie Webb from Bangor’s School of Ocean Sciences has also been kind enough to share her knowledge of seaweed species like Saccharina Latissima which, given the right conditions, have the potential to be harvested and provide the binding results I’m looking for, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that progresses.

“It’s been a fascinating process so far, and I look forward to sharing the results with the public over the coming months.”

Dr Simon Curling said, “As researchers, we are used to looking at natural materials from the scientific or product development point of view so working with Manon, with her artistic outlook, is a novel and exciting approach for us and is helping us look at materials in new ways.”

Peter Jones, NRW’s Lead Specialist on peatland, said: “Although some people may find peatlands less immediately attention-grabbing than other natural landscapes in Wales such as mountains, woodlands or coastlines, in fact, our bogs and fens support a wonderful range of plants and animals, and this importance continues out of view underground.

“Peatland is the earth’s most concentrated soil carbon store and restoring them to healthy condition is a key Welsh Government and NRW action to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

“We are therefore delighted to work with an artist like Manon Awst who, through her creativity and research, aims to highlight some of the hidden qualities of peatlands for public view.”

‘Wetland Dreams’ (Breuddwyd Gorsiog) opens on Saturday, 15th July at Oriel Brondanw, Llanfrothen and there will be an artist talk with Dr Sarah Pogoda from Bangor University at the gallery on Saturday, 19th August.

Manon will also be presenting an element of the work with NRW on Monday 7th August at the Llŷn ac Eifionydd National Eisteddfod, and a new sculpture will be unveiled at the Anglesey Fens later this year. You can learn more about Manon Awst here

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