School of Sport and Health Sciences

One of Sammie's artworks

Student nurse transforming Brighton beach litter into art

Sammie Aplin is combining working as a sister on the Acute ward at Royal Sussex Hospital with scouring the local beach every day for plastic waste to make art.

Currently studying a module from a Masters degree in Nursing at University of Brighton, Sammie began to do her daily beach clean just before the first lockdown in early 2020, and then began to turn her finds into rainbow-hued collage art works. Sammie chose the rainbow theme to reflect Brighton & Hove’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community, as well as a reference to her work with the NHS.

At first, Sammie only shared her art creations with friends and family, but as word spread she now has a waiting list of customers via her Instagram page – which she hopes will inspire others to join her daily efforts to remove plastic waste from the Brighton and Hove seashore.

Sammie donates money from art sales to #LeaveNoTraceBrighton, an organisation campaigning to educate and encourage individuals and businesses in Brighton & Hove to reduce, reuse, recycle or properly dispose of rubbish to keep the city’s beaches and green spaces clean for all to enjoy. Her previous charitable endeavours also include doing a 176-mile hike from Brighton to Devon to raise money for The Sussex Beacon, which provides support to local people living with HIV.

Sammie says: “Between my Nursing studies at University of Brighton and working on the ward at the Royal Sussex, life can sometimes get quite intense. My daily beach cleaning walks have become a way to de-stress, and I quickly realised how beneficial they were for my mental health. I now beach clean every day. You’d be amazed to see what you can find at the beach when you start looking – but there’s the other side of me that says ‘why is this here in the first place?’ I’m just one person – but the amount I’ve found is quite staggering.

“Seeing waste as a resource is really important ,and this stuff would have just ended up in landfill or incinerated. But hopefully it will live on someone’s wall for a few years and be there for people to enjoy.”

Sammie is just one of many students benefiting from the world-class nursing and allied health professions training at University of Brighton which has earned a top 10 UK university rating for its research impact. The University’s nursing and midwifery courses were rated joint 1st in the UK for career prospects by the Guardian University Guide 2022, and joint 1st for graduate prospects in the Complete University Guide 2022.

She is also following in the footsteps of a long line of Brighton students and staff putting sustainability at the heart of their work across art, design and architecture – from pioneering architect Duncan Baker-Brown’s world-renowned Brighton Waste House to the award-garlanded sustainable fashion initiatives of alumna Bethany Williams.

Watch a YouTube video made by World Is One News (WION), featuring Sammie’s beach cleaning and art making.

Sammie Aplin at work on her beach clean art

Kerry Burnett • 27/04/2022

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