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Chris Watson
Naturalist + sound artist
Recorded on Blyth beach,

Chris Jordan
Film, 97 mins

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
Two voices in the air.

'Is it he?' quoth one, 'Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross.

The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow.'

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, 'The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.'

Chris Jordan’s ‘Midway: Message from the Gyre’ is difficult to look at. It is not just the image of a decomposing dead albatross chick that is gruelling. It’s the volume and diversity of the plastic remains, showing little decomposition compared with the carcass itself. You realise that one day there will just be a small litter of plastic where there once was an albatross. The youngster’s mother had scooped up plastic from the surface of the water and unbeknown fed it to the chick.

Midway is an isolated island in the Pacific – plastic pollution is global. We have created more than 9 billion tons of plastic. Our ocean is littered with more than five trillion pieces of plastic. It is the ugly marker with which to delineate a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

John Spicer