‘A Plastic Ocean’ reviewed

A sparkling deep blue view of the ocean beneath the waves, the opening shot of the film – and an impactful one at that – and this, a fantastic quote to kick-start an emotional rollercoaster…

“…consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” – Moby Dick

I was fortunate enough to land a ticket to Bristol Media’s recent private viewing of A Plastic Ocean. I knew I’d find this film a hard watch and I knew what I was getting myself into. But still, it grabbed me in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Jo Ruxton – what a lady. Working for the WWF in Asia for 7 years, before joining the BBC Natural History Unit as a Producer. Today, she is the co-founder of the Plastic Oceans Foundation and Producer of the film A Plastic Ocean.

Her ambition and drive was immediately apparent as she introduced the film. Eight years in the making, she never gave up her dream of getting this film out into the public domain. And it’s paid off – going live on Netflix next week and ready to buy and download from the website. However, awareness is just the tip of the iceberg. Action is needed, now.

‘More than eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the sea every year.’

Just one of the horrifying stats revealed in the film, and one that is simply incomprehensible. You can’t even put it into context or imagine how, or more importantly, why this happening.

This is one of the reasons I believe this film is a game changer. Forcing us to ask these questions and not only demanding answers but also solutions. The realisation that we can’t keep being supplied with an idealistic view of nature; holiday brochures, TV Ads and even nature documentaries – they are all guilty of shading us from what is the reality of beaches and rivers full of plastic bottles.

“I’m positive, because it’s better than the alternative.” – Tanya Streeter, Champion Freediver and Plastic Oceans Foundation Ambassador

Hope is an emotion I didn’t think I’d feel after watching this film considering the amount of hard-hitting content it provided. However, the projects and initiatives shown at the end of the film tackling this monstrous problem are simply incredible.

To list a few:






Once the credits arrived, I don’t think there was a dry cheek in the house. The feeling of being in a room of passionate people, watching something so momentous, was just incredible.

After the credits, Jo Ruxton came back to the front and did a Q&A of the film.

Obviously, the response was overwhelmingly positive. There were quite a few filmmakers there and the praise for the production was sky-high. I still think we should have given her a standing ovation!

However, there was another prominent feeling in the room, frustration. It was palpable from some people – the lack of knowing how to go about tackling this problem as an individual.

Jo’s responses were pretty straightforward:

Spread the word and demand change.

There was an overall suggestion in the film that the ‘bottom up’ approach was possible – that maybe legislation wasn’t the only route to change.

There was a point in the film focussing on supermarket food packaging. The discussion turned to how maybe a way of combating this was taking your food out of the packaging and leaving it in the supermarket to deal with – can you imagine if everyone did this in one hour, or a day or a week in a supermarket?! There would be mountains of plastic for them to sort out. But the message is a strong one, it has to provoke a knee-jerk reaction.

She said that this was an extreme case. But another less dramatic method that could be initiated by individuals could be a plastic free aisle – like a lot of health food shops are now doing. Once the demand for this is strong from individuals who shop there, there is also pressure for the supermarket to open another plastic free aisle with more products, and another, and another, so on and so on.

I could go on and on about the questions that were asked. But overall, Jo took some pretty hard questions and dealt with them in a professional, concise but caring manner. I was seriously impressed.

After leaving the screening, I felt slightly shell-shocked. And all the stats, images and questions were spinning around in my head. But one slice of information really stuck with me…

‘Plastic pollution now reaches virtually every part of the planet. One of the most observable changes on the planet in the last 50 years has been ‘the ubiquity and abundance of plastic debris. It is likely that in the first ten years of this century we have used more plastic than we did during the whole of the last.’

And despite the fact my mind felt like it was racing at a hundred miles per hour, one thing was crystal clear. We need change, and we need it now.

Reviewed by Becky Root






Navigating yourself around a new city can be daunting enough – add a set of wheels into the mix, and it can be ever more confusing and intimidating.

No more! These pocket sized, beautifully but fuctionally designed guides from Rapha banish the big, clunky fold out maps.

Every guide is illustrated by individual artists to give each book and city a unique aesthetic. Providing locations, destinations and experiences all designed in functional layouts – they’re a visual dream.

So far Rapha have released eight guides for the following locations:

• Amsterdam
• Antwerp/ Ghent
• Barcelona
• Berlin
• Copenhagen
• London
• Milan
• Paris

We’d love it if that they designed a guide for every city in the world… however that would mean 4,416 guides! Here’s hoping!





Can interpretation change the world?

Belfast Conference review
13 October 2016
“Can Interpretation Change the World?” – The Art of Making a Difference

Belfast 5th to 7th October 2016

This was my first Aautumn-newsletter-carousel3HI Conference, and I approached the rather impressive Hilton Belfast with a sense of trepidation, uncertain about the coming few days and whether a newbie like myself would be out of my depth, bored to tears, or both.I needn’t have worried.

At the initial workshop event, the eminent and rhymingly-monikered Sam Ham, Professor Emeritus and all round Guru put everyone at ease with his opening statement “I know what you’re all thinking: Did my parents have a sense of humour?” and we were off.This really set the tone of the conference; deep knowledge lightly worn (with a sense of humour), happily and openly shared with all comers.

The papers and conversations over the next two days built on this. The conference sponsors (Mark Leslie from Martello Media and Andrew Todd from Tandem) used their papers not for any hard sell, but to highlight the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities in interpreting aspects of Irish History through their recent exhibition work. It was a pleasure to hear about live projects that were so cleverly, sensitively and impressively realised.

Other more academic papers were no less inspiring. Sam Ham effortlessly demonstrated why he’s held in such high regard all over the world, prowling and eyeing the room delivering thought-bombs like “Everyone is capable of doing the ‘right thing’ – but for their own reasons”.

Dr Antonietta Jimenez came all the way from Mexico to talk about recognising universal, shared human values in ancient cultures, developing the theme to a conclusion that came across something like ‘mankind constructs and uses stories as group therapy to cope with crises’, which blew me away.

Apologies I haven’t mentioned all the papers; all are deserving of mention and all (at least) provoked thought and inspired action, even if that action was only to babble incoherently about them over dinner with similarly enthused and inspired delegates.

Oh and we managed to squeeze in a couple of in-depth, exclusive, behind the scenes tours of the incredible Titanic Experience and the Ulster Museum.

autumn-newsletter-carousel2I can’t wait to take my place amongst the seasoned conference veterans next year, attempting to follow the example set to me this year by being as warm, welcoming, enthusiastic and thought provoking as possible…

Thanks to all the AHI trustees and organisers

Howard Swift





So much to Do

The Do Lectures, Wales, 2016.

In July I was fortunate enough to be one of the attendees at the Do Lectures in Wales. It’s a cross between a small festival, a networking event, a series of lectures, workshops and a professional and personal development course.

We camped in bell tents, ate glorious local food, enjoyed inspiring talks, great live music and discussed everything under the sun with new friends by the camp fire long into the nights.


great Speakers

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I won’t go through every wonderful talk, you’ll be able to see them all online in the near future, but here are some of my speaker highlights:

  • Kicking things off on Thursday was Mr Bingo with his eclectic, impassioned talk, ‘29 Things I’ve Learnt’ covering how he makes a living out of vulgar drawings, rap videos and charging people for insults.
  • Later on, Daniela Papi-Thornton spoke about ‘Tackling Heropreneurship’. A tantalising insight into social businesses and entrepreneurs working towards social change, the pitfalls and psychology of impact and effective change. I wrote pages and pages of notes on that one so I’m still processing it!

Friday went by in a blur of phenomenal speakers, which included:

  • Michael Burne of Carbon Law Partners talking about how the legal system is broken and how his company is going about changing it.
  • Severine Von Tsarner-Fleming of Agrarian Trust, a fascinating woman with a passion for communal farming and bringing commoning and community back to the next generation of farmers in the States.
  • Will and Guy from the British Pilgrimage Trust. Two blokes who are single-handedly trying to resurrect the art of pilgrimage in the UK (Will having unsuccessfully tried to make a living previously as a travelling minstrel) and brought their unique ‘double-act’ to Do. Speaking about their four-day pilgrimage to the sea from the source of the River Teifi, via the Do Lectures for the weekend, the people they met, things they learnt and history they discovered along the way.
  • Stephen Russell, the Barefoot Doctor, blew everyone away with his positivity, Taoist approach and loving confidence. Ending with ‘Essentially, everyone just wants to be loved. Even bigots.’

Saturday continued with excellent speakers, starting with:

  • Chris Sheldrick of What3Words, the universal addressing system giving a viable address to every three square metres on the planet using just three words. A phenomenal mapping system changing the way businesses work, improving the lives of nomads, how emergency services access people in crowds, helping people find their friends and driving social and economic development in countries all around the world.
  • Heather Le Fevre, author of Brain Surfing, whose talk and separate workshop on reciprocal generosity I attended, is a global-based American strategist. The take-away lesson learnt from her talk was that ‘Everything we need to know is in other people. You just need to ask.’ And to always bear in mind the Ratio of Help; Offer 2: Ask 1.
  • Holley Murchison of Oratory Glory followed. An astounding person and inspiring soul who spoke about owning your voice, leading with love and leaving your mark.
    I attended her workshop before the talk which was ‘The Art of Making a Great Introduction’. So now, rather than asking what people do when I meet them, I’ll ask what they’re passionate about. It’s a much more interesting conversation to have with someone new!


new opportunities and adventures

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One of the best parts of Do was having the opportunity to meet and discuss with the speakers and other attendees over dinner and evening drinks. I used this opportunity to have a more in depth chat with Will of British Pilgrimage Trust as well as Michael of Carbon Law Partners and others. There are certainly lots of people whom I plan to stay in touch with and may hopefully work with in the future.

On the final morning at 7am, I was fortunate to join Will and Guy and a small group of Doers for the last leg of their pilgrimage to the coast. It was an enjoyable couple of hours; singing an old folk song to a yew tree, pausing for thought at a ruined abbey, discovering hidden wells and the meaning of Mount Joy. We questioned a blessing stone, sampled samphire on the beach and paddled in the waves at the end of our journey. There is so much hidden heritage on Britain’s public footpaths and byways and I’d love to do it again sometime, some place new.

I met many amazing people at Do Lectures and have since been in touch with a handful of them, particularly the Bristol cohort of which there were quite a few! I left feeling inspired, enriched and with a very, very long To Do List. One of which was to write this blog post. So at least that’s one thing finally done!

We’ve had some absolutely wonderful feedback that’s making us blush about the Westonbirt Guide:

“Having at last read the Guide and belatedly read the unduly and unnecessarily modest credits, I now know who was responsible for its production. And I hasten to thank and congratulate you all on ‘The Guide’. To my mind and eye, it is quite the best guide book I have ever read – in each and every aspect.

“From the first sight and handling of the cover style and throughout the concept to the smallest of the comprehensive details it is an exemplar and is worthy of much greater promotion…

“For such flair and concise and comprehensive knowledge to be demonstrated and communicated across such a wide range of expertise is a quite remarkable achievement. Congratulations to the whole team on your accomplishment.”

John Kendall, Trustee, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

We worked closely with the copywriter and Arboretum Director on this lovely visitor guide. You can read all about the project here.



Recommended Agency Status

We’re chuffed to bits to have just achieved Recommended Agency Status. Only possible thanks to our wonderful clients who’ve said some lovely things about us.

The Recommended Agency Register is a database of design and advertising agencies whose clients have recommended them above the benchmark required. And it’s a pretty high benchmark too! Clients use the database to find agencies they can trust and agencies use it to stand out and attract new clients.

Thank you again to all our clients who’ve helped get us here.