For South Australian artist Jenny Berry, the opaqueness of water is the most important part of her marine life paintings. So much so that she takes extra care to create several layers of opaque acrylic colours that correctly portray a healthy marine ecosystem. This attention to a seemingly unimportant detail stemmed from her hobby as a prolific sea diver. Here, Berry recognized that different diving sites will vary in terms of opaqueness, a testament to that particular location’s water quality.

Berry pinpointed that murkier waters generally meant a less healthy marine ecosystem. This is a consequence of water pollution, a direct product of people's consumerist decisions. This is why Berry has decided that her art will only portray clear waters to help show the people of Australia, and even beyond, exactly what type of water opaqueness they should strive to see to help create healthy reef and ocean habitats. This makes her pieces relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Life Below Water and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Australia is no stranger to murky ocean waters. Cases of ocean water pollution have been reported as recently as March 2024 at Mullaloo Beach, Perth. In this particular case, local residents also remain unconvinced of the government’s explanation that the phenomenon is a naturally occurring one. They are also increasingly frustrated by the local government’s apparent inaction.

Detail of Enchantress of the Sea by Jenny Berry. Image courtesy of Jenny Berry’s website.

Therefore, as Berry highlights, it is important for individuals to take matters into their own hands and make better choices that will help curtail ocean water pollution.

To do so, The United States National Ocean Service (NOS) has outlined 10 simple things that individuals can do at home, around town, and on the water to help stop ocean water pollution. These steps include choosing nontoxic household chemicals such as floor cleaners and detergents, practicing safe boating, and ensuring that no personal boat oil or gas spills can occur.

Awakening by Jenny Berry. Image courtesy of Jenny Berry’s website.

In an interview with X-Ray Magazine, Berry shared that one of the best waters she had experienced and wished she could emulate in her paintings is the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. "The deep cobalt blue of the water is stuck forever in my mind,” said Berry.

Of course, she also did not forget to share that another reason the experience has stuck with her is that in those waters, she had the privilege to swim with whale sharks. These animals are the largest known fish species and have unfortunately been classified as endangered worldwide.

Detail of Awakening by Jenny Berry. Image courtesy of Jenny Berry’s website.

Marine creatures like whale sharks always appear in Berry’s pieces. Half of her canvases are always dedicated to portraying ocean waters and the other half is always dedicated to showing the wonderful animals and plants that live in them. This allows Berry to impart to her audiences how these two components of marine ecosystems are equally important and that they rely on humankind to ensure their longevity.

Alight by Jenny Berry. Image courtesy of Jenny Berry’s website.

Find out more about Jenny Berry’s underwater paintings and their other pieces by checking their Instagram at @jennyberryartist.

You've successfully subscribed to Arts Help
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.