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Cally Nurse


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'In August 2021, I completed a Masters in Fine Art (Distinction) from Duncan of  Jordanstone Art College, Dundee University, and I am currently developing a PhD proposal.'


My Masters research entailed exploring different ways to interact with the natural world, specifically in the littoral or inter-tidal zone, the border between sea and land, which is in a state of constant flux. Through art I explore dissolving and indeterminate borders between water and land.


My graduate show was called The Mighty Voice and one of the themes was to let the materials speak. For the show, the 'materials' were the sea and seaweed. To let the seawater speak and to capture the state of perpetual change at the tide’s edge, I work with the sea using squid ink on paper and allowing the water to create marks, shapes and textures. The resulting images convey the eternal ebb and flow, the shifting mystery and power of the elements which we can’t control but which are being profoundly affected by our activities and behaviours. The marks could be seen as the continuous looping of perpetual perishing and constant re-becoming, creating new patterns, layers and traces which are like echoes.

I also listened to the voices of local creel fishermen in an old fishing village in Aberdeenshire who I recorded in interviews. From them I learned that in the past 30 years different species have started to prevail over previously common species. These include the velvet swimming crab which seems more evident than the green shore crab and there are more octopus than before which raid the creels of their precious catch. The village used to have over 40 working boats but now has only 3.




The above changes may be a result of warmer seawater. A report in DW (Deutsche Welle) in 2017 states that the North Sea is warming twice as fast as the world’s oceans. One of the effects of this accelerated rise include different species of marine creature and seaweed in our waters which impacts the whole marine eco-system and livelihoods of the locals.


Though my art, I aim to represent change as a cause for wonder which can be explored and embraced. I deliberately choose a positive and proactive approach in an attempt to balance the potentially paralysing effect of fear. When faced with accelerated change, inherent instability and accompanying uncertainty, it is easy to feel powerless. Slowing down and reversing the changes will take time and meanwhile we need to find new ways to understand andrelate to the natural world.


This way we may have a chance to make our future on this planet more positive and enriching.

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