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From waves of plastic to inspiring art

Rob Arnold. Artist, inspiration and Litter Hero.

“My motivation for litter picking is to prevent the real harm done to wildlife, particularly marine life, through ingestion of plastics or entanglement.”


People have different reasons for making a difference, for Cornish artist Rob Arnold, his moment of revelation was seeing a short film clip about the Albatross on the island of Midway.

Video: Chris Jordan's ALBATROSS film trailer from chris jordan photographic arts on Vimeo


“It's incredible that Midway Island is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean over 1000 miles from the nearest continent yet it's being polluted by human litter.”

“This film had a profound effect on me… I saw the Albatross as the canary in the coalmine if you like. It's a crying shame that we have to sacrifice this noble bird before we wake up to the problem we have created. This struck me that it was a worldwide human-created problem.”


Around the same time, Rob met the organiser of a local beach cleaning and campaigning group, Rame Penisula BeachCare. He was inspired to share his feelings about the Medway Albatross by creating a picture for the group’s art event, ‘Washed Ashore’, raising awareness of plastic pollution.

Rob has since become an active member of the group, helping with their campaigning and organised beach cleans.

In 2016 Rob discovered a particularly badly littered Cornish cove, a capture point for drifting and sunken litter. Too remote and with hazardous tides, this cove was unsuitable for organised beach cleans, so Rob decided to clean this beach himself.

Focusing on plastic bottles (and their fragments), between tides over four days Rob cleared around 1,500 bottles from this single cove. He’s collected more than 500 additional bottles since.

Rob’s sculptures are an integral part of his beach cleans – often inspired by, and made of, the things he picks up.

“I like to think my sculptures will raise awareness of pollution, encourage people to reduce plastic use and dispose of it responsibly. Plastic is now a serious pollutant.  We must recognise this and make changes in our attitude to it.”


For the Great British Spring Clean, Rob will be taking to the county’s roads, not its beaches.“Road litter is a real problem, bottles and packaging thrown from car windows get cut up into shreds by grass cutters and then gets washed down the storm drains. From there it goes into the nearest stream or river and then on it's journey to the sea.”

Rob’s mission is to prevent harm to wildlife and “raise awareness of pollution, encourage people to reduce plastic use and dispose of it responsibly.”

In his mission, the thing he’s most proud of is his Moai, Easter Island Head sculpture (pictured). The sculpture, called ‘A Lesson from History’,  was created from plastic fragments collected from the beach. His inspiration comes from the fact that the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island are thought to have cut down all the island’s trees, causing an environmental disaster leading to water and food shortages and the eventual collapse of their civilization… a chilling lesson from history and just as relevant today.

It was first shown last year at the Royal Geographical Society in London, supporting an event with a marine plastic pollution theme and widely shared online, “the image will have made thousands of people stop and question what we are doing to our world.”

We are sure Rob’s words and his story will be a real wake up call to anyone who hears them. A true Litter Hero, his stunning sculptures inspire us all to make positive changes for a better planet.

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