Dives bring magic of the North Sea alive

Wednesday 31st October 2012

Harriet Mead cpt Kate RiselyHarriet Mead cpt Kate Riseley

Sculptor and President of The Society of Wildlife Artists, Harriet Mead, has learned to dive and scoured the coast for scrap metal to create some magical marine art after winning The Wildlife Trusts’ Underwater Art Award.

The Award enabled Harriet Mead to dive for the first time and get closer to the amazing marine life that flourishes off the coast of Norfolk where she lives. 

Head of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, Joan Edwards, explains,

“The Undersea Art Award funds diving lessons for artists with a passion for nature who want to find out more about the astonishingly varied submerged landscapes around UK shores.  The idea is to create art inspired by the amazing creatures that live in our wonderful cold water coral beds, sponge meadows, canyons and sandbanks.”

Harriet’s work will be shown at The Society of Wildlife Artists’ annual exhibition, The Natural Eye, at The Mall Galleries in London, from Thursday 1 – Sunday 11 November 2012.

Mead is widely acclaimed for her beautiful creations which rely upon her using scrap metal.  For this project she has scavenged local beaches in search of interesting pieces to make sculptures of some of the inspiring creatures she met on her recent undersea adventures - such as the dragonet and crab.  She has just completed three dives which enabled her to explore the extraordinary Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds. 

Some of the dive photos show Harriet examining an old rusting digger left on the beach as she searches for potential pieces, diving, and making underwater sketches (with freezing fingers in extreme conditions!) - taken by her dive-buddy Kate Risely.

Mead writes:  “Being based in Norfolk it seemed a perfect opportunity to explore the Europe’s largest chalk reef, Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds off the north Norfolk coast.  It’s one of 127 amazing proposed Marine Conservation Zones and is a really unique reef – the purple sponge found there last year is a species new to science and it’s also home to over 30 species of sea slugs, sunfish and basking sharks.

“The dive training was pretty straightforward, although I was quick to learn that nothing involved with diving can be performed elegantly on dry land.  I ended up feeling like a zombie with a toddler’s capacity for achievement.  Straps, buckles and zips become major triumphs to undo or do up and movement with all the kit on is a mammoth task.  Once under the water it is a different matter with the whole weight lifted by the water and everything that was a hindrance becomes a help.”

Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds are one of a network of recommended Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) being proposed and are a really important issue for anyone interested in our natural heritage this autumn. 

In December the government will let us know whether they are likely to protect all 127 recommended MCZs.  The UK’s marine habitats are rich and diverse but largely unprotected - which is why The Wildlife Trusts are still asking for the Marine and Coastal Access Act of 2009 to be fully implemented.

You can visit these zones on our interactive map and see some of the wonders they are home to www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZmap

You can also sign The Wildlife Trusts’ petition or become a friend of your nearest MCZ www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZfriends

For more on Mead see www.harrietmead.co.uk
Exhibition details: www.swla.co.uk

Tagged with: Living Seas