Canadian painter and biologist Claire Allore uses found marine debris and driftwood as art tools for her intricate and biologically accurate paintings of the animal kingdom. By creating these pieces, Allore has helped to reduce marine debris and create a better environment for the animals she depicts. When sharing her pieces on social media, she includes fun facts about these different species to educate her viewers about their fascinating lives.

Photograph of Claire Allore with her marine debris collage of a Jonah Crab. Image courtesy of @alloreart/Instagram.

In doing so, she cultivates a sense of closeness between these creatures and her viewers. Hopefully, to encourage them to create their own art out of marine debris or to help collect and properly dispose of them, so that they too can help these weird and wonderful beings live better lives. This directly relates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Life Below Water, Life on Land, Responsible Consumption and Production and Quality Education.  

Nudibranch study by Claire Allore. Image courtesy of @alloreart/Instagram.

Allore sources her driftwood and marine debris from the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada. National Geographic calls this region “rugged nature,” with some of the world’s most extreme tides that have also brought in 1.8 million pieces of litter. A study by Dalhousie University, Halifax found that this has caused a loss of habitat for marine life, while also posing a threat to their diet and lives, due to how marine creatures are prone to ingesting or getting tangled in them. This is why initiatives like Allore’s can go a long way in terms of helping the Bay of Fundy’s marine ecosystem.

Sunfish painting by Claire Allore. Image courtesy of @alloreart/Instagram.

Allore collects beach trash such as ropes, plastic bottles, bottle caps, rubber bands and even plastic army men to stick onto her mixed media paintings, using them to help her colour in her pieces.

Luna Moth painting by Claire Allore. Image courtesy of @alloreart/Instagram.

Her pieces are always intricate paintings of different animals from varied habitats. A biologist herself, she uses the Florida Museums’ openVertebrate (oVert) project to provide her sketching guidelines. The oVert project is an initiative to provide the public access to digital 3D vertebrate anatomy models. By using them to create her paintings, Allore ensures that viewers of her work get the most realistic artistic renditions of these animals.

Sturgeon painting by Claire Allore. Image courtesy of @alloreart/Instagram.

“Fun fact, although these frogs look really cool, they actually smell like minks (very stinky),” wrote Allore in the caption of her painting of a Mink Frog. Mink Frogs are native to the United States and Canada and as Allore has written, can be identified by their strong mink odour — a strong pungent musky scent that resembles an onion. Thanks to Allore’s fun facts, her audiences will now be able to recognize the frog, should they encounter them out in the wild.

Claire Allore’s use of marine debris and driftwood as art tools for her hyper-realistic paintings compels people to contribute their own environmental efforts. She does so by raising awareness of how the Bay of Fundy is overwhelmed by marine debris and by cultivating a closeness between her viewers and the animals she has depicted in her paintings through simple and easy-to-remember fun facts. 

Her artworks embody how art can also be environmental advocacy. She hopes to create a better future for both the planet’s ecosystem and humankind. Something that as Allore has shown, can start through small everyday actions such as collecting beach trash to create art.

Find out more about these driftwood paintings and Claire Allore’s other pieces by checking her Instagram on @alloreart.

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