Collage with art works made with marine debris from different beaches – by Angelika Heckhausen

“What does art mean today and what is my responsibility as an artist?

I ask myself this question by actively working on a topic that affects me personally and presenting it with my artistic means and abilities in order to enter into a dialogue with the contemplating people. In doing so, I use the “real” problematic material for an aesthetic, reflective and awareness raising presentation, to question how we can solve this manmade problem collectively.” –  Angelika Heckhausen

In her work,  Angelika Heckhausen mainly uses materials that she has collected on beaches. Already this collecting is important for to her because, on the one hand, this beach is freed from garbage and thus can no longer have harmful effects on nature for a while. In addition, every object found, whether recognizable as what it was or already fragmented, has a peculiarity and a hidden message that inspires me later in my creative work. The technique of mosaic turns out very often to be the right technique.


Angelika Heckhausen’s work is devoted to various questions of the whole complex problem of littering the seas. A big issue is that the garbage that we have produced, which has reached the sea, make its way back to us, and this is a very logical way: Animals that serve us as food, confuse plastic garbage with food and when we eat these animals, we also eat our own waste.

Another question is, what impact has our garbage on life in the seas. Here is an emotional sympathy for observers easier to experience, because causing harm to animals oppose most people. From this dismay can start a change in their own behaviour?

To the artist, the seas and oceans are much more than just “ecosystem services providers”.  Angelika Heckhausen says that she feels the bondage of me with the whole world the strongest when she walks along a beach or go snorkelling in this underwater world. To protect and preserve this part of the world has become a life’s work for me.

For this reason, she works voluntarily for an NGO marine conservation organization  (
Among others, they carry out an education project for primary school children ( She has created a picture book, showing the way of garbage from land to sea in an exciting story,

Our oceans are suffering and we are to blame for that. But even with so many terrible news and pictures, all the “problem-knowledge” will not lead into to “action-knowledge”. Therefore, we need positive stories and pictures. Nobody likes to watch an information event anymore, where for the umpteenth time the problem is shown even more drastically. But getting to the subject with artwork, pictures, videos, sculptures, or theatrical performances that allow different perspectives and enable new paths of creativity, maybe even make fun, is a way to reach out to people who are often not willing for a closer look for this matters, let alone taking personal responsibility.

Description for 3 actions to be held by the artist

  1. I would like to make with visitors, who look at the tapestry, an imaginary journey. They shall imagine, the tapestry is a wonderful tapestry (and because it is made with material from the sea, it can be used for all problems that the oceans have with us): they can fly with it, it makes wishes came true, it is very strong, and who is on this tapestry, can change the world. And now visitors have to form with the power of the tapestry a new ocean world. And in-between this imagination they have to reflect the impact of human and have to find out, how they can change in reality their habits and lifestyle.
  2. The impact of micro-plastic is a theme in my artwork with the fish skeletons at the bottom of the work. I would like to discuss with people, where all the micro-plastic comes from. My artwork shows a possibly circulatory system of micro-plastic. Is this the only form of impact? What shall we do to get rid of that stuff? How can we prevent this?
  3. I would like to discuss with people the theme: is it beneficial and correct, to show big and terribly problems in nice, aesthetic and artful works. In my exhibitions, which I have shown in the context of information exhibitions about marine debris, very often visitors told me, that my art is too beautiful for just a terrible problem. The question would be: how shall be art, which shall transport something like the problems of the oceans, here special, the marine litter problem? What kind of interaction starts with visitor and art?

I intend, to bring visitors in this “area of tension” and to find their own point of few. – Angelika Heckhausen


Angelika Heckhausen was born on April 5, 1955, in Wangen in Allgäu in Germany.

Physics engineer and speech therapist; Part-study graphics and painting; Mosaic art (freelance) since 1998; Member of the artist group PARADOX since 2003; actively involved in marine conservation since 2010; Lives and works in Berlin.

Numerous exhibitions (Germany, New Zealand, Spain and China)
In the magazine Sea & Coast of the EUCC-Die Küstenunion Deutschland e.V., no. 5/2014 an article with some pictures of my work;
on the occasion of the International Marine Litter Conference in Berlin (2013) I exhibited my work with other artists;
the travelling exhibition “Garbage in the sea concerns us all”, which has been on display since 2014, of the marine conservation association Project Blue Sea e.V., in which I am active, always shows artwork by me;
on the occasion of the travelling exhibition “Geisternetze” (ghost-nets) of the WWF together with the Stralsund Maritime Museum, the tapestry was shown at various exhibition venues (Stralsund, Rostock, Danzig, Prora on Rügen);
participation in the International Traveling Exhibition “Endstation Meer?” ( in Stralsund.

The project “The Universal Sea – Pure or Plastic!” is exactly the project I have always wished for, that it would be done once, and there are so many artists around the world working on this very important topic. This project can show the power of art united.