The Carnival is Over

The Carnival is Over (A4 ink and coloured pencils 2021)

We’re told that we have ten years to slash the emissions that lead to climate change before it will become impossible to reverse the process. The pollution of the world’s oceans disturbs me more than any other environmental crisis, possibly because it’s easier to observe its effect than rising temperatures or melting polar icecaps.

This drawing was inspired by two events. Recently I walked along a holiday resort beach at the end of a sunny day, when families were packing up to go home. The amount of rubbish they left behind was unbelievable: polystyrene food containers, plastic wrappers and carrier bags, all sorts of junk they could have taken home. Some helpfully put all their garbage in a plastic bag and left it on the beach for seagulls to tear apart and the tide to wash away.

The other event happened 25 years ago off the coast of Mumbai. I was on a boat with about 30 others when the engine stalled. As the crew tried to fix it and the boat drifted aimlessly, I wondered if we might have to swim to the shore. The water was brown and uninviting, dotted with the untreated detritus of a large, densely populated city.

The micro and the macro.

11 thoughts on “The Carnival is Over

  1. It is depressing, isn’t it…I watch Ocean conservation nambia and its amazing what they cut off the seals there…. HOWEVER if you want some good news…..1 Thes: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:….. going to happen VERY SOON….LOOK UP!!!!!

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  2. I’m sorry to read about these experiences. When we lived in NYC we saw a fair amount of garbage on beaches and some in the water, too, but it did get a little better over the years. When we first visited the Pacific northwest we were impressed by how little garbage there was anywhere. But now I do see it, I think especially because many more people are outside than were before the pandemic – people who aren’t aware. it’s all about awareness and your wonderful illustration does a great job at that. I can see it as a poster used in every schoolroom….

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    • Thanks, as always, for your kind remarks. Isn’t that huge gyre of microscopic plastic particles somewhere off the Pacific NW coast?

      I think there are improvements here and there – certainly NYC has cleaned up somewhat from my initial visit many years ago – but so much still needs to be done, both by governments and by all of us. Your blog displays a wonderful sense of place and how important and beautiful nature, indeed the world in general, can be. Such things help – one can’t harm the things one loves.

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      • Yes, there’s a huge mess of plastic near Japan and another one between California & Hawaii – and apparently, there are others across the globe but most of the garbage in them is microscopic particles. Still, it’s sickening to think about. Thank you very much for your kind comment about my blog. I do like to think that it helps on that level, a little. But we need more Greta Thunberg’s! Have a great week, Michael.

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  3. Great drawing Michael – love the textured sun and sky. It accurately demonstrates the problems caused by human carelessness. I just don’t understand why people would leave their rubbish in a public place and it makes me (almost) froth at the mouth whenever I see it.

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    • Thanks, June. I love the effect of Faber-Castell watercolour pencils on watercolour paper, without actually wetting them!

      Yes, it’s all rather baffling, isn’t it? One wouldn’t leave old chip wrappers and empty cans lying around the house, so why treat the beach like a rubbish tip?


  4. There are so many reasons to be ashamed of the damage we have done and are continuing to do to our planet. A few years back I was sailing up towards Ireland enjoying the vast emptiness of the seas and the company of the dolphins. As we reached Pembrokeshire and tried to start the engine we discovered that alas a plastic sack had found and wrapped itself round our propellor – a very trying end to a perfect day. The poor whale in your drawing captures our feelings perfectly. Thank you for using your talents to draw attention to the pollutions of the seas.

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