Vision for the ocean – Georgie Harrison, Gee by the Sea

This blog is part of our ‘Vision for the Ocean’ series.

Launched on World Ocean Day, the series showcases inspirational stories of people and organisations who are seeking to protect the ocean and all it makes possible. We’re proud to call all these ocean lovers our friends and our partners in the fight for our blue planet.

By working together, we can achieve a thriving ocean, thriving people.

In our Thriving Ocean, Thriving People report, research showed that nine out of ten people agree that natural spaces are good for mental health and wellbeing. Defra’s report on Ocean Literacy also highlighted similar feedback from visits to the marine environment, with good mental health (84%) and physical health (80%)  the most frequently reported outcomes from spending time in a marine environment. Our connection to the ocean is remarkable and that’s why our commitment to protect it is so strong.

In our Vision for the Ocean blog series so far, we’ve heard from a Paralympian and surfing champion, a scientist, an activist, and a marine protection charity. This time we hear from Georgie Harrison, an artist based in Cornwall, who supports Surfers Against Sewage with every piece sold.

Hi Georgie! What does the ocean mean to you?

I always knew the ocean had a calming effect but it wasn’t until Covid-19 that I realised how much of a therapy the ocean was to me. During the long days of isolation I was privileged to have the coastal path right on my doorstep.

I would walk along the seashore every day, listening to the waves lapping on the shoreline, breathing in the salty air. I wanted to bottle that feeling and take it home, and the only way I could imagine doing this was to paint it!

At the time, I was involved in a start-up company positioned in the travel industry which was shelved due to the pandemic, so painting became my escapism. I never imagined in a million years that I would turn this into a business. I have the ocean to thank for everything, my business, my inspiration, my therapy. I also love sea swimming.

When I first moved down to Cornwall I never thought I’d be swimming in the chilly Cornish seas but when you’re in the water nothing else matters. Again, it’s a form of free therapy. This is why I’ve partnered with Surfers Against Sewage, it’s my way of giving back to the ocean. It’s my way of saying thank you.

What work do you want to celebrate that’s helping the ocean?

I love the concept of beach cleans. Not only is it great for coastal and ocean ecosystems but it’s amazing for people’s mental health – taking care of our well-being and the environment we live in.

Along with the amazing work SAS do on beach cleans, there is another inspiring organisation called Beach Guardian, co-founded by father and daughter duo: Rob, and Marine Biologist Emily. They organise community beach cleans and conduct educational workshops with schools and other groups to connect people with the environment. This helps to improve health and wellbeing of both people and the planet. Over the years regular beach cleaning has been done to collect and remove rubbish from the beaches around Cornwall.

On a much bigger scale, the UK has pledged to invest £150 million in a new global programme named ‘COAST’ to help developing countries protect marine habitat. This exciting recent news will help protect and restore valuable coastal and marine habitats such as corals, mangroves and seagrasses. It will help improve the sustainability and productivity of small-scale fisheries, and unlock aquaculture’s potential.

Tell us how your work as a creative is helping the ocean and what your vision for the future is?

My mission is to inject a pocket of tranquility into people’s homes, inspired by the ocean. This is so they can benefit from the effects of the sea and with hope that they’ll also want to give back to the ocean. My work is a constant reminder of its beauty. It’s why we should protect our oceans for future generations, to enjoy the ocean as we do today.

I want future generations to be inspired by the ocean and to experience it, without it being strewn with litter and polluted with sewage.

I want the homes of marine life to be free of foreign objects that are harmful and toxic to them. I will continue doing my part in hope that one day the ocean has a healthy, thriving environment that it deserves. That’s why with every piece I sell I donate to Surfers Against Sewage.

You can follow Georgie’s work at @gee_by_the_sea on instagram, or on her website.

If you’d like to organise your own beach clean, or join one locally, check out our Million Mile Clean.