Coastal Change

We’re proud to support projects that use art to help people understand our nation’s changing coastline and make well informed choices about its future.

Over the past decade, we’ve commissioned a series of reports that draw on art as a tool to explore how the UK’s coastline has evolved over the centuries. These reports chart geographic and social changes through works of art, providing valuable insights into the coastal landscape in an age before photography.

Inspired by these fascinating studies, we’re proud to support the Art and the Sea partnership project with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia. This project is engaging Norfolk communities to celebrate the heritage, landscape and culture of the coast and consider its future.

People have long been attracted to the Norfolk coast by its special character, landscape and wildlife and there is a long tradition for art to interpret social and environmental change along Norfolk’s ever changing coastline. Through Art and the Sea, the Sainsbury Centre has delivered a series of outreach activities on coastal change, including public workshops and creative sessions for local schoolchildren.

So far, the Sainsbury Centre has commissioned artist Sophie Utting to make a film ‘The Sea is a Hungry Dog’ and worked with The Voice Project to create a Coastal Choir to sing ‘Songs of the Sea’ written by Raffaella Barker. The Sainsbury Centre has also staged three interdisciplinary Art and the Sea conferences, with contributions from artists, scientists, geographers and art historians.

Most recently, the Sainsbury Centre and artist educator Liz Ballard worked with children from Blakeney Primary School to explore life on the coast. Through this project, 60 children generated sculptural artwork, drawing and writing in response to the Sainsbury Centre collections and the themes of coast and sea. 

Artist Simon Faithful has also created a short film entitled ‘A walk around an ever diminishing island’, shot on a sandbank off the Norfolk coast. Two of the photos at the top of this page are from that film; the third is from the publication 'Art as a tool in support of the understanding of coastal change in East Anglia'. 

As active manager of the UK seabed, we’re delighted to support projects that help coastal communities understand the evolving nature of the coast. This supports them in making informed choices about its future, considering new development opportunities in the context of centuries of environmental and social change.

Further Information

Art and the Sea at Blakeney

Art as a tool in support of the understanding of coastal change (2008) (PDF, 11.03 MB)

Art as a tool in support of the understanding of coastal change in Wales (PDF, 3.5 MB)

Art as a tool in support of the understanding of coastal change in Scotland (PDF, 2.89 MB)

Art as a tool in support of the understanding of coastal change in Northern Ireland (PDF, 2.52 MB)

Art and coastal change in East Anglia (2010) (PDF, 3.17 MB)

A coastal historical resources guide for England (2011) (PDF, 3.48 MB)