Skeleton Sea: the artists collective that wants to save the oceans

 

Text: Ricardo Miguel Vieira | Photography: Skeleton Sea

 

Tired of watching the continuous scourge of marine pollution, Xandi Kreuzeder and a group of friends decided to take action in mid-2005 during a surf trip through the Azores.

“João Parrinha, Luis de Dios and I were in an area to the north of São Jorge where there was only one small village,” Xandi describes. “To search for waves we had to walk through coves along the coast. However, we came across a place with a fantastic view: on the one hand, waterfalls amid a pristine green landscape; on the other hand, the wild Atlantic. But in the middle, as if dividing the land from the sea, there was a dash of colored garbage. It was about ten meters wide and perhaps three meters high and it would go for at least one kilometer. We could tell it had been there for a long time without anyone approaching it, because it was an isolated area, with no access. It was a turning point for us surfers, who were aware of the problem, so we decided to start the Skeleton Sea project.”

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With an art gallery that is also their headquarters on Rua da Bacoreira in Santo Isidoro, Skeleton Sea is a conscience agitator that warns of the global emergence of marine pollution through works built with trash found on beaches and the sea. The direction of the project was obvious, defined at the outset based on the versatile background that Xandi and his friends share in the arts field. If one is a photographer, the other is a painter and the other one is a sculptor or a board shaper, a cauldron of skills that serves a common purpose: keeping oceans and beaches clean. “When I go to the beach, it happens every now and then to find a piece of junk that I quickly relate to a piece of art,” says Xandi. “An old tire, for example, reminds me of an octopus eye.”

Skeleton Sea has been around for more than 10 years, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. In addition to the activities in the gallery, which include workshops for sculpture and shaping surfboards out of wood, the project presents regular exhibitions and setups in Ericeira. And when the works are not on display in Ericeira or other Portuguese locations, it is because festivals dedicated to the surf culture and ocean’s protection in countries like Germany, Spain and the United Arab Emirates are running at the time. “Basically, what gives us the strength to carry on is the positive welcome we have been receiving from people. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible.”

At a time when news are being questioned and scientific findings about global warming are being skepticised, Skeleton Sea’s contagious energy and inspiring sense of purpose brings the community closer together and sensitizes it to the emergence of maritime and environmental pollution. “As you might imagine, a project like Skeleton Sea is very difficult to maintain, it’s not a viable project from the financial point of view,” Xandi laments. “It survives thanks to the money we invest from our own pockets. So we’re struggling to make it thrive as long as we feed the dream of having the community support to open a Skeleton Sea art centre.”

Esta publicação também está disponível em | This article is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)