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a plastic tide seen through future eyes…

Suffolk artist Fran Crowe has been collecting plastic litter from the beaches near her home for nearly 10 years in an attempt to stem the tide of plastic flooding our shores… In 2007 she collected 46000 (see footnote1) pieces in an effort to ‘save’ one square mile of sea after reading about the terrible impact plastic in our seas has on marine life. She uses the plastic she collects to create huge artworks and tongue-in-cheek ‘souvenirs’ to draw attention to the plight of our oceans and their wildlife (see footnote2).

We are using up a huge amount of our limited oil reserves (an estimated 8%) creating plastics, one-third of which we will only use once (for example, plastic cups, bottles and bags). Yet plastic in our seas lasts indefinitely, just breaking down eventually into smaller and smaller pieces. As Fran says, plastics, like diamonds, are forever. Moreover, these tiny plastic pieces are entering the food chain and perhaps even ending up as food on our plates!

For her latest project, Museum of Beyond, Fran imagines a time beyond oil: the oil has run out and we live very different lives without plastics… and yet the plastic debris from our 21st century lives is still washing up on the seashore. What will people make of these items - and what will they think about us??

The Museum of Beyond imagines this future. Come and find out more at the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout from Wednesday 23rd July until Sunday 27th July (opening hours 10am until 5pm, except Sunday 10am until 4pm). Fran will be at the Lookout throughout the week - drop in and meet her and talk to her about her collections.

Also in residence will be Southwold-based composer and pianist, Nathan Williamson, and poet, Leanne Moden. Nathan and Leanne will both be creating new work inspired by the Museum’s collection - you can hear them perform their work at the Lookout at the weekend, details as follows:

Saturday 26th July - Nathan Williamson: 12.30pm and 3pm; Leanne Moden: 11.30am and 2pm
Sunday 27th July - Nathan Williamson: 12 noon
Performances will last 15-20 mins approximately.

You are also invited to join Leanne for drop-in poetry games on Friday afternoon from 2pm until 4pm. There will be a chance to build your own short poem, write about your favourite piece in the museum, and contribute to one of Leanne’s poems by adding a word or phrase to the ‘Inspiration Board’. (All ages are welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult.)

New contributions to the Museum are always welcome: bring your object (a plastic beach find) to Fran at the Lookout from Monday 21st July until Sunday 27th July. Fran says: ‘The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout is a really amazing place right on the beach - I can’t wait to see what people find and bring to the museum.’

Over the last few weeks Fran has been working with several local schools (Aldeburgh Primary School, Coldfair Green Primary School and Saxmundham Free School) - Fran hopes to include some of their work in the Museum and on the website.

‘What I’m doing may seem like just a splash in the ocean’, says Fran, ‘but there are lots of small things we can all do things to help reduce the amount of plastic in our seas. I really hope that seeing the Museum and exhibition will inspire people to think differently about plastic. Reducing our use of single use plastics, like bottles, cups and bags, is a great place to start.’

Leanne adds, ‘It’s an absolute pleasure to be working on the Museum of Beyond project, collaborating with Fran and Nathan to create a fun portfolio of art, poetry and music with a serious message about recycling, and the consumption of plastics.’

You can find out more about Fran’s work on her website and about the Museum and exhibition at

The Museum of Beyond project, including the school workshops, is part-funded by Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Sustainable Development Fund.

In addition, Fran extends special thanks to Caroline Wiseman and the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout.

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1. A United Nations Environment Programme Report “Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas” in 2006 estimated that on average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating on every square mile of sea. See The report estimated that the amount of marine plastic would double every 2 to 3 years.
2. The same report estimated that more than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and over one million seabirds die every year due to entanglement with or ingestion of plastics.

More details and links
For more information about marine litter:

For things we can all do to help reduce plastics in our oceans see

Aldeburgh Beach Lookout - ‘a tiny temple for artists, poets, writers, performers and thinkers' on the shingle at Aldeburgh beach - for more details see

Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB

baloon on beach

the lookout









click on image to find out more



Inspired by our collections? Then you may be interested in a short residency in the studio at Woodlands in Suffolk.

find out more here


to see more of Fran's work, visit

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