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Rationalising the Absurd | Josh Vyvyan

An acclaimed artist and illustrator hailing from the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall’s southernmost reaches, Josh Vyvyan has grown up with a deep and ever present connection to the sea.
The creative who brought to life the logo for our Sea7 Ocean Activist Camp, below Josh talks about his inspirations for that design, and his growing appreciation for the bizarre and wonderful planet on which we live.


Josh Vyvyan gets creative in the studio wearing Finisterre clothing

After what was a surreal year to say the least, Cornwall was placed in the global spotlight when seven of the world's leaders arrived in the seaside town of St Ives, to talk 'mask to mask'.

Missile launchers were installed on headlands, and alien-like aircraft could be seen and heard at all times of the day. An odd combination of sunburnt tourists and Global Leaders provided the absurd cherry on the top of this bizarre cupcake of a year.

Often, we can try and rationalise the absurd. That has certainly been the case over the last 18 months. Things we could never have imagined have now become the new normal, and ever more extreme boundaries have been placed on our existence.


Josh Vyvyan painting the mural for sea7

When I was asked to create an artwork for the Sea7 camp in St Agnes, I wanted the illustration to represent the surreal nature of what I had been feeling over the past year; a human on a planet obsessed with image, material possessions and acquisition.

An alien-like hand, cradling a non-specific sea creature... It was about creating a feeling rather than illustrating specific animals or objects. An awareness of this planet as bizarre, beautiful and fragile, distilled into and image that would keep people coming back to try and rationalise the various components.


Seasiders Ep.2 | Raised by the Sea

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I had been out of the water for a couple of months due to injury but was feeling better – enough to jump in the sea for a few surfs around the same time as all of this was going on around Cornwall. I have found my priorities are slowly shifting to an appreciation of time spent in the water more broadly and ideally alone. This has led me away from the busy car parks and frustrated summer line-ups and now I find myself simply bobbing around in a beautiful string weed forest, looking through my snorkel at what could be an alien planet. That's more than enough fulfilment.

Through all of this I am learning to embrace the more surreal aspects of life and am slowly feeling like I am part of something more powerful and beautiful than I could have imagined. I hope this Sea7 artwork inspires the same feeling in the people who view it and encourages us to confront the often scary, obscure elements of our existence.

 Josh Vyvyan on a Seasiders adventure with Finisterre  

Words by Josh Vyvyan
Photographs by Abbi Hughes | Film by Luke Pilbeam

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