“Eco Art and Serendipity” – Naomi Tidball
At the last Transmission in Motion seminar, the participants navigated a virtual museum. By virtually navigating the online platform, participants could interact with different curated positions towards the theme/phenomenon of serendipity. As a word, serendipity describes an aptitude to encounter a positive or valuable object, space, occurrence, etc. My experience with ‘Designing for Serendipity’ (Utrecht University, 2021) was positive, even with a few glitches in my navigational skills. One profound value from this design lab was, in fact, my poor navigational skills. Somewhat serendipitously, I could not visit and reflect on all parts of the exhibition. However, I somehow stumbled upon the red section of the museum. In this section, I found a video of trees and a path and some sounds in nature. Given the stress and inability to visit my home country (Canada), this one short clip was immensely calming. It made me reflect on several walks I would take in the forests by my old university campus (for my bachelor’s program).
While perusing the internet for a topic that would suit the context or concept of ‘serendipity,’ I was unsuccessful. At a point of defeat, I soon discovered, after moving around the furniture in my room, my box of beachcombing treasures; then it clicked, serendipity. Beachcombing or Juttering (in Dutch) is finding and searching for valuable objects on the beach. As a former resident of the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver) and South Africa, beachcombing is a relaxing activity where I can wander or immerse myself in nature while looking for shells and other objects on the beach. During my time in South Africa, I, along with other interns and volunteers, would walk the shore cleaning up garbage or looking for shark eggs that washed up on the beach. Moreover, on a recent trip to Texel, my partner and I started beachcombing on our long walks by the beach.
For the remainder of this blog, I want to highlight a notable artist (Donna von Hoesslin) who uses the concept of ‘serendipity’ in their beachcombing art practices: eco-art. von Hoesslin (2003) started the company ‘Betty Belts,’ a sustainable design company that upcycles surfboard resin and sea glass found on California’s beaches (Betty Belts, 2019). As an avid surfer and artist, von Hoesslin’s venture in eco-art began in a somewhat serendipitous manner; after a conversation, with a surf-industry friend, on the necessity for better protocols and waste management for surf resin (Etched Inc., 2020).
- Utrecht University. 2021. “Transmission in Motion Seminar (2020-2021): ‘Designing for Serendipity’ – Ilona Domen, Merel van Goch, Anastasia Hacopian, Anne Kustritz, Rianne van Lambalgen, Toine Minnaert, Florentine Sterk, Iris van der Tuin and Roosmarijn van Woerden (Utrecht University)” Transmission in Motion. https://transmissioninmotion.sites.uu.nl/transmission-in-motion-seminar-2020-2021-designing-for-serendipity-ilona-domen-merel-van-goch-anastasia-hacopian-anne-kustritz-rianne-van-lambalgen-toine-minnaert-florenti/
- von Hoesslin, Donna. 2019. “About Betty Belts, Ocean Inspired Jewelry and Accessoiries Made with Dignity: Betty Belts.” Betty Belts| Ocean Inspired Jewelry and Accessoires Made with Dignity. October 2. http://www.bettybelts.com/about/.
- Etched Inc, 2020. “Eco Art” Beachcombing Magazine. February 26, 2020. https://www.beachcombingmagazine.com/blogs/news/eco-art
*Image credits: Tidball, Naomi. “Bronica- Zanza Appreciation: Wandering the Western Cape.” 2019, Vermont, South Africa.