The Creative Conservationist

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Hayley Smith talks to Cornish artist Vanessa Gosbee of Ebb & Flo Cornwall, about her love of all things art, and her work to increase awareness of important social issues.

Is there a story behind the name Ebb & Flo?

Many years ago, I was working for an investment company in London. The name Ebb & Flo came to me totally out of the blue. I was sitting around the dining table with my two boys, and the name popped into my head. It was like a flash card that said, ‘this is your future business name’. I didn’t know at the time what the business was going to be, or even where I would be.

Where did your awareness of looking after the environment come from?

I have always been conscious of the environment in terms of seeing litter around town, in the countryside, and on the coast. The biggest influence for me, was when I spent some time living on a yacht; we used eco-friendly products to protect the marine life and the environment.

Moving to Cornwall opened my eyes further, with all the local beach cleans. Our first beach clean was at Watergate Bay with Surfers Against Sewerage. I collected various pieces of plastic, which I then sanitized, and used to create multiple forms of artwork. This collection, ‘Love Your Environment’, was then commissioned for an environmental art exhibition in Broadstairs, Kent. Part of this collection can be found on my website, where 50% of the proceeds are donated to the charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Not long after moving to Padstow, I met an incredible and inspirational young lady, Emily Stevenson. Emily is the co-founder of Beach Guardian CIC, Padstow, whom I’ve learnt so much more from. I am helping to raise funds for Beach Guardian on an ongoing basis, by selling my art cards from the ‘Love Your Environment’ range, which I also donate 50% of the profits from.

What made you want to use materials from the beach to create your art?

Being at the beach is an anti-stress, antioxidant which we all need in life. It has always helped me with my inner peace. My boys and I spend all our spare time together at the beach. They can always be found either in the water, or investigating in the rock pools, while I find myself either looking down around my feet, searching for treasures, or creating artwork in the sand.

What made you want to use materials from the beach to create your art?

One of the first charities I decided I wanted to support, was Surfers Against Sewerage. This charity was very close to my heart. My happy place is the beach and the sea, and I strongly believe it needs to be conserved for our future generations. I made our stunning beaches the focus of my artwork to help raise more awareness of SAS and their great work. We need to do all that we can to ensure the health of the marine environment for the future.

Next, Arterne – Enriching The Next Generation CIC – is a not for profit company with social purpose at its core. Arterne CIC raises awareness about mental health and its’ links with physical health. They help tackle the stigma of the term ‘mental health’, by promoting the message of ‘we all have mental health’. Founder Cindy Wilcox is an inspiration to all.

My first raffle of an original painting was donated to this amazing cause. I like to support anything to do with mental health, as it affects so many of us. Even more so now, as issues surrounding mental wellbeing have become more commonplace during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Therefore, for the month of July we are running a competition to raise funds for Arterne. Those wishing to enter, will design and create a piece of artwork made solely from any household waste, which you can recycle into your own masterpiece.

The competition is open to all ages, and there will be only 2 categories; Adults and Children. The prize for the adults will be a framed piece of artwork from one of my collections. And for the children, they could bag themselves some art supplies to encourage their creative sides. Full details can be found on my website. I encourage everyone to join in.

Another charity I always make sure I find time to support, is Children’s Hospice South West. I think we all have a weakness to want to do all we can to help children’s charities, as it just seems so unfair. Now I’m a mother of two young boys, it breaks my heart to see that those beautiful children will never grow up to experience adulthood.

I always find a way to help CHSW, even if it’s me giving my time providing fun art sessions in the hospices.

Lastly, Beach Guardian CIC is a community Interest company based in Padstow, Cornwall. It was co-founded by a father and daughter duo, Rob and Emily, who is a Marine Biologist. I personally know both of these amazing, inspirational individuals. They are extremely hardworking, and are often found in local schools educating the children. In the past, there have been regular educational workshops and beach cleans.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on?

Yes, I will always have projects on the go. My aim is to try and work with a different charity every month, raising funds through raffling my art, and promoting the organisation as much as I can. I believe we all have a part to play in life to make the future a better place.

I am currently working on a fundraising project with Children’s Hospice South West. I am selling raffle tickets on my website to win an original acrylic artwork of Porthpean Beach, and all proceeds will be given to the charity.

What made you move from London, surrounded by some of the world’s finest art galleries, to Padstow?

One summer’s day, I had an inner calling to visit Padstow, and something was telling me I needed to live there. I’d never been to Padstow before; however, I’d always wanted to visit. We spent at least ten years holidaying in Cornwall, and enjoyed many a holiday and long weekend on my uncle’s farm in Devon. My family and I are massive foodies, but we just hadn’t made it there yet in all our visits!

One weekend, I booked us a visit to Padstow, then the following weekend we went back again and looked at a home and a school, and within the month we had made the move and begun a new chapter in our lives. I’ve always had adventure in me, and always had a calling to live by the sea for its peace, tranquillity and natural beauty.

For more information on any of the charity competitions, and to see what Ebb & Flo offers, visit www.ebbandflocornwall.co.uk

Hayley Smith Interviews Vanessa Gosbee of Ebb & Flo