Clear sighted: ocean plastic depicted in glass

Clear sighted: ocean plastic depicted in glass

A set of mouth-blown glass bottles that depict the degradation of plastic in our seas has been selected for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition

A very beautiful depiction of plastic waste

London Glassblowing's resident artist Louis Thompson has made a set of seven mouthblown solid glass bottles (each with a detritus plastic cap) which depicts the degradation of a plastic bottle in the ocean, as it turns from clear to black. This beautiful thought-provoking work has been selected for this year's Summer Exhibition at London's Royal Academy (12 June - 19 Aug), coordinated by ceramicist Grayson Perry. Thompson's Seven Stages of Degradation has been made in collaboration with environmental campaigner and graphic designer Sophie Thomas

Ocean plastic waste seems to be on everyone's mind and efforts are growing to get us all to do something about it. Art is a powerful medium to communicate messages and glass artist Louis Thompson's The Seven Stage of Degradation is a work that will undoubtedly resonate with visitors to this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London.

The work came about when his friend and collaborator Sophie Thomas was researching issues around plastic pollution - she had built up a collection of broken plastic pieces picked up from beaches around the world - and they could see how glass bottles could be made to show how plastic degrades in the sea, yet never goes away.

The bottles capture incredible detail
The bottles feature exquisite colour.
Each bottle was made from the inside out, using waste coloured glass shards from the London Glassblowing studios. They were formed onto molten clear glass, then dipped and rolled in smaller coloured glass chips and strands to represent the breakdown of plastic into smaller and smaller pieces. Colour, one of the most seductive aspects of glass, was chosen carefully for each stage; very little red or yellow was used as this would have been eaten by sea creatures. The glass was transformed into plastic bottle shapes then twisted and dented with timber paddles to represent the distortion from the power of the oceans. Each bottle represents the stages of photo-degeneration of plastic in the sea – they get progressively darker as they pollute.  And each has a bottle cap from Thomas’ collection picked up on Kamilo Beach in Hawaii.
Thompson and Thomas hope the work will engage people in the plastic pollution problem that has touched every continent. And it's an honour, says Thompson, for it to have bee chosen by Grayson Perry and his team for the Summer Exhibition. ‘We're absolutely delighted. Seven Stages of Degradation not only shows the beauty of glass, but also has something important to say about the future of the planet.’ 
Thompson can be commissioned to make ocean plastic glass bottles, which cost from £1,300.
The full set shown here would cost £9,750 and take eight weeks to make. 
London Glassblowing is open to visitors.