To celebrate the launch of The Scrunchie Club’s “Scrunchsea” scrunchie design, theCoral Restoration Foundation interviewed our partner artist, children’s book illustratorAnnie Bowler, about her interest in ocean conservation and how it served as the inspiration for her artwork.
Keep reading for an excerpt of theinterview!
My grandparents lived in the Caribbean when I was little, so we used to go and stay with them for a month every year for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories aren't super tangible but rather just the feeling of having salty skin and wind-swept hair and falling asleep to the sound of the waves. When we used to come back home after those trips, I would lie in my bed in my suburban neighborhood and pretend that the sound of the nearby traffic was the ocean.
So hard to choose! I have to go with sea turtles. I've had the opportunity to see them while scuba diving, and they're just so majestic and gentle.
I have! My husband and I lived in Asia for a while and did as much traveling as we could. We went snorkeling off the coast of Labuan Bajo, Indonesia and saw the most incredible coral reef ecosystem. It was like we were on a different planet; we couldn't believe our eyes. The colors alone inspire my work as an illustrator to this day.
About a year after our trip to Indonesia we went to Vietnam and did some snorkeling. Our hopes were high because of the amazing experience we'd had in Labuan Bajo, but the reef was almost entirely bleached and abandoned. It was such a stark contrast and really made us examine the impact we as tourists have on the ocean ecosystem.
Oh, where to begin. What I find the most concerning (and infuriating) is the vast disparities in the effects of global climate change. Studies have shown that climate change disproportionately impacts the poorest countries, despite them having contributed the least to it. Droughts, fires, monsoons, and other effects of a warming climate can strike anywhere, but those with fewer resources are hit the hardest. A significant portion of the world's population is one extreme weather event away from destitution. We're not just talking about losing property though, climate change threatens the way of life that has been passed down for generations. Our oceans have been the life-force and livelihood for communities for as long as history has been documented. Climate change is threatening to end that.
I think it would be hard to see a thriving coral reef and come away from it not caring! From a selfish perspective, I want my children and their children to experience having their imaginations blown wide open by nature. Less selfishly, to care about coral reefs is to care about the entire environment. Coral reefs are critical to the ocean ecosystem and subsequently the functioning of a healthy planet.
I'm an artist, so my work is about creating and sharing beauty. The natural world is my biggest source of inspiration, constantly challenging and expanding my imagination. I see it as my responsibility to return the favor and do what I can to protect my muse.