A new exhibition at Kirkcudbright Galleries between 25th March and 16th April 2023 reveals a series of stories to explain the provenance of ‘treasures’ displayed in a museum set 1,000 years in the future. This stunning exhibition provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at the role plastic plays in our everyday lives.
From the reliance on fossil fuels in the manufacturing process to the debris littering our shoreline, we are all aware of the problem caused by our careless use of plastic. It may be that only be with the benefit of hindsight that the material that is so useful to us today can be seen as a global hazard. The durability that makes this material so useful will become a threat as it breaks up into plastic micro particles that pollutes our world for a very long time.
The plastic ‘treasures’ displayed in the Solway Hoard exhibition have been found by beach clean volunteers and the stories were created by local people in a series of Museum of the FutureNow workshop sessions that were held at Logan Botanic Garden, Mill on the Fleet and Dumfries Museum. Many of the items selected are of an unknown origin but have been tested at Heriot-Watt University to identify the type of plastic they were made from. The creative process encouraged participants to imagine the future and explain why a mundane waste material has become a treasure with an important role in history. The stories include tales involving protest, agriculture, religion and crime set in locations ranging from Stranraer to Shanghai – find out more here.
Although the creation of these stories is intended to shape the conversations we have about plastic and influence decisions we make in the future there is also an element of fun added by the fictional misidentification of these found objects. A dog toy and foil balloon are sacred ornaments, a Jif lemon a valuable table decoration and the lid of a bird feeder becomes part of a gyroscope from a futuristic drone.
The Solway Hoard from a Plastic Age was inspired by an original story created for Glasgow Universities Waste Stories project and the Galloway Hoard exhibition held at Kirkcudbright Galleries. The exhibition and accompanying booklet are the result of the enthusiasm of local beach cleaners and participants in writing workshops led by Museum of the FutureNow. Photography by Mike Bolam and graphic design by Ian Findlay helps to transform marine debris into precious museum artefacts.
We hope this exhibition will be hosted by other museums and will be a call to action, for both the public and decision makers, to find solutions to the problems presented by our current use of plastics. The Solway Hoard exhibition is part of the Positive Action for a Cleaner Solway Project created by the Solway Firth Partnership and was supported by the Scottish Government’s Marine Fund Scotlan