As we look back over the past year, the highlight has to have been our Washed Up campaign and, to that end, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part.

We can’t believe the amount of support we had for the campaign, receiving plastic from six continents – yes SIX! (If anyone is heading to Antarctica anytime soon please give us a shout!) In fact, we received so many contributions, we couldn’t even display them all on the walls of the gallery and had to use some as centerpieces in the room – this turned out great, as it allowed visitors to pick them up and examine them more closely.

People were astonished by the similarities of the plastic collections from places so far apart. Almost all of the collections featured cotton bud sticks, shotgun casings, needle caps and bottle tops, showing just how connected we are on the issue of plastic pollution, no matter where we are in the world.

Here’s some of the feedback we received from people who visited:

“Beautifully presented. Startling to see.”“The exhibition highlights that the same things are being washed up on beaches around the world and that we all need to act now”
“My nephew is Autistic, he took lots of pictures on his phone of the whole exhibition and wanted to have a 2nd look at the washed up items, he used the pictures to describe the exhibition to my brother in law last night.”

“Brilliant Exhibition on plastic waste in our oceans at The Minories, Colchester. A must visit.”

“Beautifully presented but a sad highlight of the amount of rubbish in ours seas”

Alongside our own artwork, we also collaborated with Firstsite gallery’s youth arts group, YAK, with artist and illustrator Jessie Barrett creating this short comic, Escape from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Jessie’s story is based on four plastic toys that were sent to Replastic for the campaign, alongside a fifth toy that ends up deep on the ocean floor; the five characters are shown to be stuck on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, desperately trying to come up with a way to escape. It brought a whole new dimension to the exhibition and we’re looking to more collaboration with YAK in the future.

Looking to next year, we’re going to move into a different space and ramp up our recycling programme; early in the new year we’re meeting with representatives from our local council’s house building arm and from the country council’s sustainability team, all in an effort to see what we can collectively do to continuing changing people’s reliance on single-use plastic. We can’t wait to share our progress with you.

There’s still time to take part, please visit our website for more details.