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A Great Seaweed Day

fieldwork and sculptures

A Great Seaweed Day is a work that belongs to The Inner Ocean – a multi-part project embracing the fact that I love to swim. The project's title refers to the fluid that encloses mature egg cells in all land-living animals. The liquid has the same salinity as the primal ocean once had – the sea where the first life once arose, several billion years ago.

A Great Seaweed Day departs from my stomach – a both tender and sore point where flows of energy and emotions converge. Instead of seeing bellies and abdominal fat as an unwanted "other within", I am trying to listen to it and allow it to expand. Within this project I am attentive to metabolism, bacterial flora and the so-called "bowel brain" – the nervous system of the intestines. I am particularly interested in the term "orolig mage" (translates from Swedish to "stomach with agony"), which refers to both a worrying mind and upset intestines – two sides of the same coin.

All the sculptures are a bit too big to be carried around – slipping through my arms and fingers. They are made from different textiles, wallpaper adhesice, wheat flour, silicon, sealants, textile dye, rubber foam, laquer and other material. Before making them I spent time with new and old friends and myself on the shorelines of Malmö, Isle of Egg in Scottland and Koster Islands on the west coast of Sweden.

Within the project the green algae Ulva intestinalis functions as a link between the intestinal flora and the flora of the sea – a slippery path back into the water and to algaes that holds the ability to bind the sun's energy. What we today refer to as fossil fuels is exactly that – by plant converted sunlight combined with a very very long period of time.

The title A Great Seaweed Day is a quote from the diary of the Victorian housewife and marine botanist Margaret Gatty (1809-1873). Gatty's interest in seaweed sparked when she aged 39 travelled to the coast to recover from physical exhaustion caused by the latest of seven strenuous pregnancies. Gatty would give birth three more times but for the rest of her life she combined motherhood with a scientific career in marine botany and a large passion for seaweed. I share her joy for shore combing and study the strategies she developed while navigating in private and professional life.