Oceans are rising across the globe, causing destructive flooding and a threat to coastal ecosystems. Rosie Bond is a graphic design graduate from UWE Bristol whose self-directed publication Lost To The Waves addresses the impact of increasing sea levels. The book tells human stories, combining art, science and journalism to raise awareness and drive change.
The artist speaks to Aesthetica about the project, which is featured in UWE Bristol’s digital showcase. Showcase 2020 exhibits the work of graduating students from programmes across art, design, animation, photography and moving image.
A: What types of media do you work in?
RB: It varies from project to project, but wherever possible I like to use analogue methods of image-making and printing, usually combined with digital design. I believe the process is equally as important as the final outcome – whether this is the physical making process or generation of ideas. I like to create in a tactile way and carefully consider my use of media for maximum impact. My passion lies in print-based design, and I generally create publications, zines and posters, however more recently, I’ve been creating digital social media content as it is a quick and accessible way of getting my work out.
A: What are the themes explored in your project?
RB: Lost To The Waves is a 120-page exploration of rising sea levels due to the Earth’s changing climate and the consequences this has, or will have, on living beings. Chapters are divided into the past, present and future – with sub-sections exploring themes such as climate refugees, gender equality and animal migration, to name a few. I included a section on Fairbourne, where my boyfriend and I had travelled to North Wales to photograph “The UK’s first climate refugees.” These images act as a visual archive to the first of many British towns to be lost to the ocean.
I was also interested in the context of the Global South. I therefore reached out to Jashim Salam, from Chittagong in Bangladesh, who answered my interview questions about his life on the front lines of the climate crisis and his role as a photographer. I chose to focus on Fairbourne and Bangladesh because the locations are contrasting yet both populations are being impacted by the devastating effects of sea level rise in significant ways. It was important for me to get stories and first-hand experiences within the book, to make the problems seem real and current to the viewer. I think scientific facts just don’t grab the reader’s attention – I wanted to get through to people on a human level.
A: Where do you find inspiration?
RB: In bookshops, watching documentaries, walking through the streets of Bristol, observing culture and on Pinterest. I am inspired by my talented friends and climate artists such as Olafur Eliasson, as well as groups including Freezing In LA and Adapt Climate Club.
A: What do you hope audiences will take away from your piece?
RB: By combining science and art, I hope to have translated these complex phenomena into an easily digestible format for all to understand. When gathering content for the book, my aim was to touch on multiple aspects of sea level rise to give an insightful overview and, in turn, allow the reader to develop an opinion or feeling towards the issue. Essentially, I wanted to use my voice in the form of a designed book, with the hope to spark a realisation in others. Just to trigger a thought, a conversation, a response. I would love to publish my book to get it out to a wide audience.
A: What are your future plans?
RB: My plan for post-graduation was to work abroad and travel, but due to the pandemic I’ve had to reconsider my options. Instead, I will be moving back to Bristol and spend the year (hopefully) gaining experience within design and meeting lots of people – but honestly, who knows where the next year will take me! Once the Covid-19 restrictions die down, the dream would be to produce graphics whilst travelling. In the meantime, I am looking for creative collaborations and opportunities in Bristol and beyond. (Please get in touch if you would like to work together).
A: Do you have any projects / ideas lined up?
RB: I have a lot of ideas. I’ve decided to invest in making a DIY screen print setup and spend a while experimenting with this medium. It is something I fell in love with during uni. I love how effective screen printing looks on fabric and would love to upcycle unwanted clothes with natural dyes and fresh prints. Another idea I have is to create a “post-corona gallery”, where I would print funny posters and stick them on lampposts down my street. I think we could all do with a little mood boost, so attempting to make people smile in my tiny corner of the world seems like a good place to start.
A more serious and epic idea is one I’ve had in my mind for a while… I would love to travel to places that are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis in the Global South, document this and create designed content to share with and educate people who are oblivious in privileged, western countries. This would be in a similar sense to Lost To The Waves, but totally created through first hand info, photos and interviews sourced by myself. I want to use my power as a designer to create a positive impact on others – so I try to incorporate this into my projects and ideas.
A: What can viewers expect from UWE Bristol’s Showcase 2020?
RB: A whole lot of talent, variety, inspiration and people you should hire! Go check it out.
Discover UWE Bristol’s Showcase here.
Images courtesy Rosie Bond.