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A sea of plastic at Landguard Fort...

Landguard Fort helps defend our shores against a new 21st century invasion...

Shocked by a UN report that estimated that on average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean worldwide, Suffolk artist Fran Crowe was determined to do something about it and embarked on a personal challenge to pick up 46,000 pieces of litter whilst walking on beaches near her Suffolk home. ‘My aim’, says Fran, ‘was not just to help clear local beaches but, much more importantly, to raise awareness of the harm plastics do to wildlife’. The UN estimate that over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mamals and turtles die every year due to entanglement with or swallowing litter.

Whilst walking, Fran has raised nearly £1000 for the Marine Conservation Society through sponsorship and sale of her unique seaside ‘souvenirs’. She is now bringing her extraordinary collection (and ‘souvenirs’) to Landguard Fort in Felixstowe where she will create a engaging but provocative art installation for visitors to the Fort.   Says Landguard Fort’s Operations Manager, Dave Morgan, ‘Landguard Fort was key in defending Harwich Haven from invasion for 450 years - so it seems strangely appropriate that it should play a key role now in helping combat a new invader of our shores’.

Fran sees her collection as a kind of ‘contemporary archaeological dig’ - almost a self-portrait of us and our society - not just because of what she finds but because of where she finds it and the fact we have disposed of it so carelessly. Fran has also created a fascinating book of photographs of her walks, contrasting the seemingly unspoilt beauty of the Suffolk landscape with the manmade debris which inhabits it.

‘As well as countless plastic bags and packaging, I have found an unbelievable selection of things on the beach’, says Fran, ‘a snapshot of almost everything we use: toys, kitchen things, lightbulbs, shotgun cartridges, toiletries and DIY: you name it, it’s all there and in large quantities too!’

Fran’s challenge took her exactly a year to achieve - in total she walked over 200kms and carried away nearly a third of a tonne of rubbish!
Last summer Fran took her collection of litter into the gallery with a solo exhibition at Babylon Gallery in Ely in July/August where she was the 2007 bursary artist. She also had a charity stall at Art on the Prom in Felixstowe and has begun using her artworks and experiences for art and environment workshops in schools. Her work has been really well received by young and old alike - comments from previous exhibitions include:

It's art with a powerful message
Beautiful, fascinating, deadly, an incredible exhibition.
Inspired and inspiring.
Wow. Brilliant exhibition - we should all see this...
What a fantastic eye-opener - beautifully frightening
I love this - thought-provoking and strangely beautiful too
Wonderfully provocative
Made my day - brill!
It was kool!
Just the best thing I have seen in years

Fran says,  ‘I am really excited about the exhibition at Landguard Fort - it is a fantastically interesting space in a really appropriate location right on the sea’s edge next to Felixstowe docks. I know my work may just be (literally!) a splash in the ocean but I really hope lots of people will come and realise that they too can do something to help improve the state of our oceans before it’s too late. Plastic in our oceans is increasing at a terrifying rate - more than doubling every three year - and scientists believe it may take up to a thousand years for it to break down in seawater. Even then it remains as millions of microscopic particles that eventually find their way into our food chain. In effect, nearly all the plastic we have ever produced still exists in some form somewhere on our planet. If only everyone could try to avoid buying plastics for disposable items and always take their rubbish home, it would make a massive difference.’

Walking to save some sea will be exhibited at Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, from Friday 21st March until Monday 5th May. The fort is open 7 days a week. Normal admission charges to the fort apply.

More about Fran’s collection and her other work can be found on her website



For further information about the project or to arrange an interview or photocall, please contact:

For more information about Landguard Fort, visit their website

For further information regarding beach litter, see or contact the MCS Press Office on 01989 566017.

For more images of Fran’s work, see her website  (Higher resolution images available from Fran on request)

Editor's notes
1) The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK charity dedicated to the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.  MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, protection of marine life and their habitats, and the sensitive use of our marine resources.  Through education, community involvement and collaboration, MCS raises awareness of the many threats that face our seas and promotes individual, industry and government action to protect the marine environment. MCS provides information and guidance on many aspects of marine conservation and produces the annual Good Beach Guide (, the Good Fish Guide and on sustainable seafood, as well as promoting public participation in volunteer projects and surveys such as Beachwatch, Adopt-a-Beach, Seasearch and Basking Shark Watch. MCS is currently calling for an effective Marine Bill for England and the UK and complimentary legislation in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, to deliver better protection for marine species and habitats, including a network of highly protected marine reserves and a system for marine spatial planning.

2) The 46,000 figure is quoted from a United Nations Environment Programme Report “Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas”. See


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