Caught by the River

Mermaids’ Tears

16th October 2021

Mermaids’ Tears. 2021.  Plastic marine debris, wool and jute.  Created Dovecot Studios after a Kurt Jackson original.

Mermaids’ Tears — an exhibition of Kurt Jackson’s work addressing the blight of plastic in the ocean — has just opened at Dovecote Studios, Edinburgh. Coinciding with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, which commences on 31 October, the exhibition draws attention to the resin pellets or nurdles from plastic manufacturing (known as mermaids’ tears) that pollute the environment.

The focal point of this show is a beautiful new textile commission by world-renowned Dovecot Studios which interprets Mermaids’ Tears, a painting created by Jackson in 2016 for pressure group Surfers Against Sewage. The nurdles embedded in the original painting have enabled Dovecot to experiment using plastic, debris and string fibres collected by Jackson and which point to the devastating effects of plastic pollution in our seas.

Alongside the Dovecot Commission, this timely exhibition includes a selection of paintings spanning the last 25 years in which Jackson has actively collaged the jetsam and flotsam of the sea into the picture surfaces, some of which will be exhibited publicly for the first time in the UK.

Dovecot’s textile specialist Louise Trotter has worked with Jackson to achieve a sensitive balance of colour and texture. The contrast between the fishing rope and wool (the traditional and sustainable fibre used in rug making) powerfully illustrates the incursion of plastics into the natural environment.

Mermaids’ Tears is open Monday – Friday 12–3pm and Saturday 10am–5pm at the Dovecot Studios Viewing Balcony, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, until February 2022. More detailed information about the exhibition can be found via this Art Mag review and the Dovecote Studios website.