A small yet significant difference

I was so incredibly inspired by Helen’s transition from high level fashion to more ethical practices. When I spoke to her I was intrigued to discover how I too could make a difference in the modern, often conflicting world of over consumption, mass waste and violence. She had a modest and peaceful aura that almost made me feel at home when talking to her. This was when I first truly understood the importance of the Helen Storey Archive – preserving it so future generations could also feel the ability to make a small yet significant difference in the world.

My qualm with current society is our ignorance towards waste, both in quantity and also in the poisonous materials we regularly discard without a second thought to the effect on the environment. As a surfer, and general ocean fanatic, I see these effects first hand every time I return to my local beach at home in Northumberland. Since moving there over a year ago, my family and I have collected tonnes of rubbish, mainly plastic and sea glass, on every visit to the beach. My awareness of the scale of this problem, even just in such a remote, isolated coastal area like that which I live, is incredibly overwhelming and upsetting. I know that in areas worldwide the scale is much more severe, and not everyone is as conscious and helpful as me and my family are to prevent it. After speaking to Helen about the problem, she suggested that I base my project, and response to the archive, around this issue.


These photos are the beginning of a project I hope to continue. Each “bobble” of fabric within the necklaces acts as a gathered pouch that holds a piece of sea rubbish (glass, pottery, plastic, etc). These resemble how sea-life can often ingest our waste when mistaking it for food. The weight of each piece combines to make the necklace as a whole much more uncomfortable than generic, dainty jewellery. This is because I intend to make many more necklaces that will eventually make whoever wears all of them to feel overwhelmed by the weight – similar to the overwhelming feeling I experience whenever I think of ocean pollution. Some pouches are transparent, whilst others are decorated to represent the “out of sight, out of mind” view many of us have towards trash. Despite this, I have chosen to make my work vibrant and appealing, drawing ideas from couture fashion in exaggerated scale and vibrant palettes.

In the course of this project I am also continuing to collect rubbish from the beach and put it to other uses like that of my jewellery. I hope that eventually people will be able to see my work and understand the scale of the issue. I believe this is just the beginning of me making my own influential and beneficial mark, like that of Helen Storey.


Katherine Brown, 2nd Year, BA (Hons) Textile Design, University of Leeds

31st January 2018