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“I strongly believe in the Butterfly Effect: every action, even small, has an impact.”

Ocean Witness Inga shares her story

“I think that all of our actions have an impact. Even if we think it’s small, when multiplied by billions of people it can make a big difference.” Inga realized that, as an artist, she has the opportunity to have a positive impact on the oceans in her own way.

become an ocean witness
19 December 2017 | Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Ocean Witness Inga has personally witnessed the negative change in the oceans the past years, such as oil, plastic and higher temperatures. Then she realized that, as a artist, she has the opportunity to have a positive impact on the oceans, because art can be a positive and effective way to grow awareness of our environmental issues. Today we share her inspiring, creative story.

So Inga, what is your earliest memory of the ocean?

When I was a kid, I used to go to the Baltic Sea with my parents and we would stay there for a month. My mother needed special treatments at the sanatorium (an establishment for the medical treatment of people who are convalescing or have a chronic illness) based there, so me and my brother used to spend a lot of time at the sea – playing, swimming, discovering the ocean and enjoying it. After the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, I could see a lot of people from Ukraine coming to the sea to breathe iodine. Iodine apparently could help fight the effects of radiation. Even at such a young age I could witness the healthy effect of the ocean.

What does the ocean mean to you today?

I travel a lot with my family and most of our destinations are beaches and areas around the sea; we have travelled from the Mexican coast to the seas of Japan. For our family the oceans are associated with relaxation, retreat, health, adventures and escaping problems. For me as an artist, oceans are a source of inspiration. We tend to look only at the surface, but I’ve recently discovered the marvelous world underneath – full of colors, life and inspiration. The ocean means life as we know it, we would not exist without it.

 

What changes are you witnessing in the ocean?

Unfortunately, only negative changes at the moment. For example, last week I went to Tenerife, Spain where I lived for some time nine years ago. I could not believe my eyes when I saw seven oil platforms and tankers just few hundred meters from the popular Las Teresitas beach. I witnessed how much we’ve invaded into the nature and how much we’ve destroyed it. Another example is that the place of my childhood memories is dissolving. The Baltic Sea level is rising every year and is visibly flooding our unique sand dunes and beautiful powder-like sandy beach. More than half of it has already been taken over by the water in the last few years. That is a visible and direct impact of the climate change, but most people don’t even realize it and think the ocean still looks the same. Yes, on the surface the ocean might pretty much looks the same, but underneath there is a whole other world, which is mysterious and unreachable to most us. And we are changing it: oil, plastic, rubbish, toxic chemicals, higher temperatures. Even if we cannot see the damage in the surface, this is happening right now. We are invading the nature and destroying our planet and makes me feel ashamed of our human race.

“Even if we cannot see the damage in the surface, this is happening right now. We are invading the nature and destroying our planet.”
Inga

How do these changes affect you?

I feel the urge to act. I have read and done research about the oceans and environment, which has opened my eyes about the magnitude of the problem. When I was little I always thought everything would be there forever, I never realized how fragile nature is. I still cannot believe that my daughter might not be able to see what I have seen and enjoy our world the same way I’ve enjoyed it.

How do you personally contribute to shifting this change in a positive way?

I think that all of our actions have an impact. Even if we think it’s small, when multiplied by billions of people it can make a big difference. I do small things in my daily life, which I think have a positive impact, such as recycling, not wasting water, not wasting food, trying to eat only pesticide-free greens and fruits. I live in Amsterdam, which is a very bike-friendly city, so I bike everywhere to avoid fuels.

And as an artist, I think I have an opportunity to do more through my art, as I believe art is a positive and effective way to grow awareness of our environmental issues. I started my Kickstarter project ‘The Grand Painting of Penguinsto raise awareness about endangered penguin colonies. I came across the sad news about a penguin colony breeding disaster in Antarctica. I saw it on the news and I was surprised about how little attention the media gave to this issue. Not to mention, none of my friends or relatives have heard about it. Tens of thousands of baby penguins died of starvation. That is not a little event in my view. So I decided to use my skills to bring up this issue about endangered penguins into the world. If my project succeeds, once I finalize the paintings, I want to exhibit it in as many places as I can. Then, I would like to auction the paintings and donate 100% of the money to penguin conservation organizations. For me, this is only the beginning: I have many ideas about how I can help raising awareness about the oceans through my art.

“I hope my daughter will be able to experience the beauty of the oceans – discover them, connect with them, feel their healing powers. The same as I was experiencing while I was growing up.”
Inga

In 2030, what does the ocean look like according to you?

Thanks to organizations like Ocean Witness awareness about the oceans is rising. And I believe that, if we inform current and future generations and inspire them (by showing them how the oceans once looked like); we will see positive change. We can reverse the negative impact caused. We can live in balance and harmony with nature again.

However, next to all the actions and initiatives of individuals and communities, political action is also needed. In this case of the Antarctic for example, it’s very important to create protected areas in those parts of the Antarctic that need it so much. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen yet. Last month, the protection of East Antarctic marine park was rejected, which has a huge negative impact on the Adélie penguin. On the positive side, there are also large parts of the Antarctic seas already protected, which gives me hope. I think we should all encourage our governments to take their responsibility and make sure large parts of our oceans do get protected in an effective way.

Nature has an incredible ability to self-heal. It will forgive us and will flourish as it used to be. I hope my daughter will be able to experience the beauty of the oceans – discover them, connect with them, feel their healing powers. The same as I was experiencing while I was growing up.

Thanks for sharing your story; you’re an Ocean Witness now. What do you want to say to other Ocean Witnesses?

I strongly believe in the Butterfly Effect: that every action, even small, has an impact. I hope there will be many more Ocean Witnesses who will join and find ways on how to contribute using their resources and talents. I wish them persistence, motivation and luck! We can do it if we act together and support each other.

About Inga

Inga is an artist, art director, digital designer and a proud mother of a 10 month year old girl. Originally she’s from Lithuania, but she’s been living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the past eight years. She recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help endangered penguin colonies.

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Inga

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Inga is an artist, art director and digital designer. She recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help endangered penguin colonies.