Jason deCaires Taylor campaigns against sewage with a new protest sculpture installation, ‘Sirens of Sewage’ on Whitstable Beach in Kent, UK
Renowned underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor has joined together with a local community of activists in Whitstable, in the southern county of Kent, UK, to protest the ongoing, excessive release of sewage into the UK’s waters.
Taylor says he was inspired by the work of SOS Whitstable, a group of ten local sea swimmers who have been campaigning against the presence of sewage pollution along the coastlines of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Founded in 2021, the group gained national recognition after publishing two petitions generating more than 350,000 signatures pressuring the water industry, regulatory bodies, and politicians to reduce unnecessary spills.
The sculptures of the protest are lifecasts, portraying a small cross-section of the local Whitstable community (including members of SOS Whitstable) – a cold water swimmer, school child, kite surfer, lifeboat volunteer and local fisherman, each of whom Taylor says, ‘holds a profound connection to the sea and a shared resolve to combat water pollution.’
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The installation of new artwork coincided with Southern Water’s release of untreated sewage into the surrounding coastal area over an 89-hour period. Discharges of sewage occur frequently along much of the UK’s coast – often unseen during the cover of night, or through outlets concealed by the tides.
‘Sirens of Sewage serves as an important reminder of this ongoing crisis, urging us to confront the pressing need for systemic change,’ said DeCaires Taylor in a press release announcing the installation. ‘Whether through the nationalisation of our water industry or stringent regulation, we must demand a future where clean water is not a luxury but a fundamental right for both our communities and marine habitats alike.’
The new installation is part of Taylor’s Siren Series, a global network of installations through which he hopes to draw attention to marine issues such as ocean warming, overfishing and plastic pollution.
One previous installation, ‘Ocean Siren’ is a 4m-high illuminated sculpture located on the Great Barrier Reef near Townsville, Australia. Modelled on a young indigenous girl from the Wulgurukaba tribe, the statute changes colour according to variations in the daily water temperature, a symbol that warming seas could pose a threat to the Great Barrier Reef.
‘We are living through difficult times marked by strikes and protests, with many of our public services and natural resources being driven towards financial or environmental collapse,’ said deCaires Taylor. ‘As these crises unfold, it falls increasingly upon local communities and ordinary citizens to champion their rights and safeguard the ecological balance.
‘Some of those are SOS Whitstable, a group of 10 local activists who have been working tirelessly to hold water companies to account and make the sea safer along the Kent coast. I hope that this artwork serves as a testament to their struggle and ongoing resilience.’
For more about SOS Whitstable’s campaign to prevent sewage pollution, head to www.soswhitstable.com. You can also support the cause through Jason deCaires Taylor’s online shop at www.underwatersculpture.com