My name is Anna. I am a visual artist living in Kyiv and working in photography and handicrafts.
I really love the sea, and since childhood vacations at Black Sea with my family, I have been fascinated with beachcombing. Walking along the seashore in search of shells, sea glass, unusual beach stones (with a hole or shaped by the heart) is my favorite vacation pastime and beach activities (…unless I have a camera in my hands :).
However, I have a modest collection of sea treasures. Better part of it includes the seashells that I brought back from my travels as keepsakes. It never occurred to me to collect seashells in a serious manner, identify or catalogue them in some way. The artist in me just loves them for their sheer beauty!
In winter 2020, I spent two months on Koh Phangan with my family. Each day on the island, I filmed and photographed whatever felt most interesting and beautiful. The walks were approached as open-ended creative explorations, with no story or agenda in mind. One of those days, I was walking the Chalok Lam Beach. It was full of seashells and coral pieces. They were so beautiful and different from each other that I decided to photograph them too. I lined up seashells in a circle, put a “butterfly shell” in the center, and took a picture. “Wow,” I thought. “This is an artwork! The creative union of Human and Nature is capable of amazing things!” “It has the power to change the world!” I'll add tomorrow.
But first things first.
The next day, inspired by my new hobby I was scouring island shores for the new shells. I've already imagined what picture I would like to lay out from my treasured finds. Much to my surprise, besides shells and coral pieces, I’ve found straws, coffee cups, plastic bags, and even a broken glass bottle sticking out of the white sand. My 2-year-old son was next to me. These glass shards could have caused a horrific injury to my child or someone else who rested at this beach as we were. My world has been turned upside down in a moment. I picked up all these stuff and threw it into the trash can. This case started the SeashellsbyAnna project.
This project is a way to draw public attention to the problem of Ocean pollution. I want to touch people with my art and say: “Dear friend, look at my pictures, look how beautiful the seashells are! Every piece is like a work of art, unique in shape, size, and color. They were created by the Ocean, like the oxygen we breathe, like the food we eat. Seashells, corals are the sea ambassadors on the land. The waves carry them ashore to remind us how beautiful and diverse the underwater world is. In order to protect it and save our oceans, we should change the way we live and interact with the nature. You don’t have to live by the sea to take care of it. Even the small things we do in our daily lives – from hanging washing out instead of using the tumble dryer, to walking instead of driving – all have a positive effect on the World Ocean. Saving the oceans can feel like an overwhelming task, but if we all pitch in, we can make a big difference. “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an Ocean.”
P.S. Since my Thailand vacation, I began to take two bags for a beach walk: one – for the seashells, the other one – for plastic, glass, and other marine debris that may float on the ocean surface or lie on the shores. I started sorting trash, walking long distances, and choosing products made from recycled materials.
P.P.S. It should be noted that I don't take live shells. My collecting is limited to shells I found washed up on a beach where empty shells tend to collect naturally, due to the forces of waves, surge, and currents. If I meet shells occupied by live mollusk or a hermit crab, I always return them to the sea.