Press Release

Dangers of ghost gear and microplastics showcased in student work

Published on 3 June 2021

Plastic pollution and the role people play in the disruption of natural landscapes is at the heart of a project featuring in the University of Dundee’s Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2021

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green and blue fishing net strung up on ceiling

Fine Art graduand Laura Porteous (25), wanted to use her exhibit to highlight the impact humans are having on the planet and their everyday environment.

Laura, originally from East Lothian, grew up around water and has been incredibly saddened to see the constant build-up of plastic and rubbish on local beaches.

In her piece entitled, ‘The Ocean, The Plastic and The Artist’, she uses human hair to bring home the message that humans are having a direct impact on their environment. Humans shed hair naturally daily, with many people giving as little notice to the plastic they leave behind.

Her project is made up of photography, video, and a physical installation. The key piece is a fishing net comprised of two halves woven together - a ‘ghost’ drift net collected from a local beach and a handmade net made using plastic bags and hair.

In drawing comparisons between the harmful consequences of ghost gear and plastic pollution to ocean ecosystems and marine life, Laura hopes her unique take on human environmental impact will surprise viewers and help them see their own impact in a new light.

“I was inspired to make the environment the focus of my final year project as last year I read an article about how much plastic and fishing gear, described as ghost gear, washes up on shores and harms wildlife,” she said.

“I was shocked at the impact it was having and started spending time cleaning up my local beaches and creating artwork to reflect this.

“I want this project to give people the same wakeup call I had and get people thinking about the ways in which they can make a positive change.”

After a challenging start to the academic year, Laura and her classmates were recently allowed back into the studio to complete their work. Unfortunately, this year’s Graduate Showcase is closed to visitors and will take place fully online as a result of ongoing restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 had a slight impact on the scope of my project as I was limited in how much studio equipment I could use,” continued Laura. “However, I am extremely thankful that I was allowed access to the studio later in the semester and that we are still able to display our work, even if it is virtually.

“My time at DJCAD has been a great learning curve and I am look forward to continuing to raise awareness on the plastic pollution problem and develop my artist skillset further now I am finished my time at university.”

The launch of the Graduate Showcase will be broadcast live online on Friday 11 June to students, staff, families, friends and other visitors.

It celebrates the extensive achievements of the graduating students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the department of Architecture within the School of Social Sciences.

The work on display will represent the culmination of years of creative development and hard work, with the website featuring expanded information on all students, including extra images and video content.

The Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2021 is available to view from June 11 at


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878