Bottom towed fishing vessels are highly destructive to underwater ecologies including living seabed ecosystems which take millennia to form. Physically disruptive of the seafloor and indiscriminately collecting everything in their path, they result in the unintentional catch and loss of non-target marine species and their habitats. Less than 5% of Scotland’s inshore seabed is protected from bottom-trawling and scallop dredging.
Christina Riley’s latest work brings this unseen activity to the surface, asking what life looks like to those who live underwater.
Her work compares the weighty, sharp and unwieldy gear of the scallop dredge with its chain mail “belly bag” to the delicate marine bodies underwater. Riley has engaged with local marine scientists and conservationists to create underwater photographs of affected locations. These images show not only the impacts of dredging but also the positive solutions being enacted by communities.
Christina Riley is an interdisciplinary artist based on the west coast of Scotland, who explores connections between art and science with a focus on the sea and inshore habitats. Living next to the water and infatuated by the endless unknowns of life on earth, Riley seeks underwater and multi-species perspectives as a means of exploring the idea that something does not need to be understood in order to be cared for, but it does need to be experienced, somehow.
Drawn by an instinctive desire to hold, touch, collect, gather and share, her practice involves books and storytelling as well as natural and man-made objects. She is inspired by the power of the individual within a collective, the significance of the seemingly insignificant, and how the part becomes the whole.