Sculpture from beach-trash

I've been walking my dogs along shores of the East Bay near my house in Berkeley for the past 29 years. About 9 years ago I looked closer at all the junk that was washing up on the beaches and rocks and said to my self "I can do something with this". I have been collecting ever since.

My usual range stretches from Point Molate to the Bay Bridge and what I find varies from season to season. Food wrappers, plastic of all kinds, wood, hats, shoes, buckets and milk crates, lighters, bones, and all manner of nautical gear wash up year round. Winter storms with wind, high tides and storm surges bring all kinds of debris down from the Sacramento Delta, carry stuff in from the ocean, and scour the bay beaches to reveal new treasures. Very low tides yield all kinds of rusty metal and objects that don't float.

99% of the material in my sculptures are beach-combed, or found thrown or dumped on or near the shore. I am constantly amazed by the variety of stuff that I find, and by the enormous volume of man-made material. The found-objects are usually the direct inspiration for my pieces, but I will sometimes have a specific idea in mind for a sculpture and go looking for material that fits my vision. I have a large and varied stockpile of beach-combed items at my studio ready for use.

While I will cut and bend, drill and attach, and otherwise form the material for an assemblage, I prefer to leave the nature of the elements used visibly obvious, and any patina acquired by a float in the bay in place. My sculptures are weatherproof and equally at home indoors or out, with the caveat that exposed to direct sunlight plastic will begin to photo-degrade after several years.

Mark Olivier