Plastic Magnolia, Gapado AiR

Gapado Artist in Residence One // Two
These works produced on Gapado Island interweave a surreal artistic aesthetic that values discarded materials and dreamlike states of the unconscious mind. Focused on ecological awareness, this collection presents a limited selection of work created while living on the tiny island of Gapado in South Korea.

Gapado AiR, South Korea

Dominant Wave Theory

Dominant Wave Theory

Hughes began creating photographic images of various kinds of plastic waste along the intertidal zone in the late 1980s. For almost 20 years he was consumed by making images of the waste matter that came to rest along the beaches where he surfed. Hughes travelled to California, Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall to investigate and explore the link between beach debris as a subject of visual inquiry and a symbol of the worldwide ecological emergency. The results of his project was published in the groundbreaking book 'Dominant Wave Theory' in 2006. 

"Whilst Hughes' images of plastic depicted in heroic scale may give us some concern about waste material and its impact upon a sensitive maritime environment, there is another side to these intelligent images. Hughes presents us with not only an ecological message but a knowing heady rush through artistic strategies using the power of photography's saturated colour to highlight, frame, and play with scale, in an irreverent awareness of art historical practices".

Susan Daniel-McElroy, © Tate Gallery 2007 |

Plastic Scoop, Film Machinima

Plastic Scoop Film Machinima 

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most popular video games of all time, played by millions across the globe. It has generated many controversies related to the game’s known themes around gang violence, car theft, and racial stereotypes. The film Plastic Scoop draws on contemporary narratives to express how our anxiety and fears about ocean pollution are presented. As seen in much of Hughes’s work, plastic pollution and associated matter often take center stage. This film explores the complex relationships between plastic, nature, the ‘natural’ and the virtual. The film features gleaned archival material and film footage from early exploration, NASA, and his own recorded and directed in-game machinima.

"Very few directors have tackled the complex relationship between environmental issues and digital games. With Plastic Scoop, Andy Hughes makes that connection painfully manifest. By appropriating both the aesthetics of video games and the language of vintage promotional videos and other archival material, à la Adam Curtis, Hughes reminds us that have become aliens to our own planet”.

Matteo Bittanti
https://www.gamescenes.org

Andy Hughes Red Creeper Cornwall

Red Creeper
 
Inspired by H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds, Hughes created a new series of photographs during the first COVID lockdown. Wells imagined an advanced but ailing alien race struggling to survive on a dying planet. Along with the alien invasion came a weird and strange plant called the red creeper, or red weed. When exposed to water, it grew and reproduced, flooding the countryside and clogging streams and rivers.

Andy Hughes Red Mine West Cornwall

 Red Mine 

'Mining landscapes have always felt to me like torn skin. Words like ore body, lode, vein, and seam populate the mining lexicon'.
Andy Hughes

In these photographs, both the human body and the earth's body become connected. Blending reality with fiction, simultaneously highlighting how mining activity extensively transformed the landscape of Cornwall. These photographs turn the scarred landscape an eerie crimson and the mine runoff an iridescent cyan or blue.

Andy Hughes Red Creek

Red Creek 

The Red Creek project involves multiple types of connections and relationships, including those related to ecology, time, industry, and imagination. The creek, which is submerged by the sea on a daily basis, possesses a highly intricate and dynamic ecosystem. Through the use of simulated infrared photography, Hughes transforms certain natural characteristics, such as the diverse shades of green found in foliage, into a psychedelic and eerie vampire red.

Andy Hughes Wrecked Matter Paul Nash

 Wrecked Matter 

Paul Nash had the ability to imbue inanimate objects with a sense of liveliness. Jane Bennett, who wrote Vibrant Matter over eighty years later, similarly argued that all things, not only living beings such as humans and plants, but also rocks and air, are interconnected and have life. Since 2018, Hughes has been journeying to locations where the renowned British artist, Paul Nash, walked and explored the landscape. The pieces displayed on this page are a selection of Hughes' recent works from his travels to several of the sites visited by Nash.

Plastiglomerate

Plastiglomerates 

During a  student surfing trip in Wales in 1989, Andy Hughes came across a peculiar type of plastic rock that had a waxy texture and resembled a small pebble. He brought some of these rocks back to London and created a series of photographs, which were exhibited at the Royal College of Art. This section features a limited collection from Hughes' ongoing exploration of this material, approached with a poetic and visual lens.

Several of these pieces were recently showcased at the Pingyao International Photography Exhibition in China,  "Sand Sea and Soil," curated by Professor Liz Wells.

Plastiglomerate




Andy Hughes Circularity One

Circularity Art Works 

Works created for the project Gyre: The Plastic Ocean (2013)

The vast global systems of the ocean are responsible for the cyclic narrative of the Pacific Ocean Gyre. These works do not rely on metaphors that allude to destruction or a dystopian future stemming from overconsumption. Instead, they attempt to create new metaphors that take plastic objects and transform them into religious orbs that can exist in both the sky and on the ground, on beaches and in the sea. 

Andy Hughes Circularity Two




These floating objects may elicit memories of UFO sightings, and it is uncertain if they are remnants from the past, present, or future. Though for most of us, they are easily recognisable as common objects like food and drink containers, fishing equipment, toys, or any other plastic product that constitutes our world.

Andy Hughes Alaska

Plastika Alaska  

Selected images from Hughes's expedition to Alaska. Andy Hughes, Pam Longobardi, Mark Dion, Karen Larsen, and a group of scientists collaborated to study the accumulation of plastic and marine debris along the Alaskan coast. 

Andy Hughes American Littoral

 American Littoral 

These photographs explore the 'ordinariness' of the beach environment, providing perspectives beyond those of typical surfers or beach enthusiasts. They reflect a profound understanding of how the waterfront can be perceived, emphasizing the connection between location, objects, and the seascape. This curiosity is consistently evident across many of his explorations of the coastline, addressing issues related to waste, litter, and plastic contamination

Andy Hughes Glastonbury

Glastonbury Opus 

These selected images come from his Glastonbury Opus series. They explore tensions between the seductive depiction of colour, sculptural forms with an underlying narrative that describes a type of environmental degradation that results from a large festival event.

Andy Hughes Once

 Once 

For over twenty-five years, Hughes has been dedicated to capturing the presence of single-use items that are used momentarily and then discarded. These items encompass a wide range of convenience-driven objects, including coffee cups, bottled water, and sandwich cartons. The selected images span from the most remote human settlements to the sprawling urban landscapes of major cities.

Andy Hughes Surfer Archives

 Archives 

Whilst studying fine art at Cardiff University in the late 1980's Andy Hughes joined the college surf club. A small group of fine art student surfers would venture towards Swansea Bay and beyond looking for surf spots. This dedicated page explores the motivation and methodology underpinning Hughes's practice. Images created between 1989 - 1999 are featured here which gives an insight into his current practice.

Surf Grom Andy Hughes

 Surf Grom 

These photographs offer an insight into the world of the surf-grom (an under-16 young girl or boy surfer). Andy Hughes’ portrait series of young surfers show his sitters often clad in neoprene, emblazoned with logos and graphic symbols, they seem both vulnerable and confident. Each looks out at us, with all the trappings of modern contemporary life.


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