Planet Ocean exhibition will dive deep into our connection with the sea

Planet Ocean exhibition will dive deep into our connection with the sea

15 March 2024

A new exhibition that will plunge audiences into the heart of our world’s vast ocean and explore how it holds the key to our survival in the face of climate emergency is now open at The Box.

Planet Ocean (until 23 February 2025) will immerse visitors in Plymouth’s pivotal relationship with the sea, celebrating its role as ‘Britain's Ocean City’, exploring Plymouth Sound National Marine Park – one of the world's most studied and significant stretches of water – and highlighting the groundbreaking marine research that is taking place in Plymouth and impacting global policy.

Planet Ocean is drawn from the natural history, art and social history collections at The Box and has been supported by a range of partners including the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the University of Plymouth plus a number of South West-based ocean conservation organisations.

With an array of marine specimens, swimming hats and costumes, examples of single use plastics and popular paintings including A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach by Stanhope Forbes, visitors will learn how essential plankton are to life on Earth, how marine biology has been actively pioneered in Plymouth since the 1880s, how plastics are only one part of a wider problem of marine litter and pollution, and how we have the power to be part of the solution.

The exhibition also features a series of ocean-inspired works by contemporary artists. Bleached by Devon-based Tania Kovats is a response to the beauty and fragility of coral in the world's ecosystem, while Parachute by Cornwall’s Nicky Harwood comments on our increasing relationship with disposable culture and waste. Made from recycled ocean and rural plastic waste, Underwater Meadows by Rosie Sherwood (pictured below), evokes the South West’s incredible seagrass and seaweed meadows.

Underwater Meadows by Rosie Sherwood. Courtesy of the artist.

Beyond the main exhibition gallery, a new digital commission that tells the story of plankton by Kate Crawfurd and Beth Munro will play on the screens in The Box’s Media Lab throughout April, May and June, while the stunning Because You’re Worth It? II by The Singh Twins in the main entrance hall highlights the human and environmental cost of consumer demand. A new series of display cases in The Box’s Active Archives gallery have been co-curated with local individuals and community groups and highlight the theme of health and wellbeing in relation to the sea.

Commenting on the exhibition, Sarah Marden, natural history curator at The Box said:

We are all part of one connected ocean, and everyone has the right to a healthy ocean. We want to show how the work that is happening in Plymouth to safeguard the sea has wider consequences around the world.

We also want to inspire hope in people. The climate crisis can sometimes feel so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start; but small changes in our behaviours can add up to make a big difference. We hope Planet Ocean will encourage more conversations and curiosity in our visitors and by helping them to foster a deeper connection to the ocean, it can play a part in inspiring positive action and driving meaningful change.

Gorran Haven Cold Water Crew.

The Box will celebrate the opening of Planet Ocean with an afternoon of family creativity on Saturday 23 March. Visitors can drop in between 1pm and 3pm to make their own swimming hats and even take part in a parade to show off their creations. Further events connected to the exhibition will take place throughout the year.

Planet Ocean runs from 16 March 2024 until 23 February 2025. The exhibition is open from 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday and selected Bank Holidays.