INLAND: Unnatural History Collection


INLAND: Unnatural History Collection is a community-engaged art project connecting inland communities with the ocean through the rivers that physically link them. The project is supported by the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition and was part of the 2022 Ocean Week Canada and Ocean Festival. You're invited to participate (see instructions below). 

What can we lean about ourselves from what we leave behind?  

Rivers play a critial role in the health of local ecosystems. They are also a conduit for pollution that ends up in the ocean, including single use plastics, food packaging, and other items dropped or forgotten near rivers or other waterways. The public is invited to explore a local waterway in their community to look for and collect a small object that someone else has left behind that might otherwise be swept away into the ocean. I am then cataloguing the collected items and creating an evolving installation. This project connects the dots between our everyday choices/habits and ocean health.



How to participate

Explore a waterway in your local community. Look closely for a small object that doesn’t belong in the natural environment. Collect the object and record your observations about it as though you were a scientist. Note the location the object was found and any distinguishing characteristics of the site. What can you imagine about the origin of the object and how it came to be at this particular location? (To help record your observations, download and print this handy specimen collection form.)
Package and mail your find and observations to me at the address below to be incorporated into an art installation about the connection between inland waterways and ocean health. Alternatively, take a photo of your object and send, along with your observations, to
Follow the project on Instagram @inland_unnatural_history 

Mail contributions
Robi Smith
Box 2926
Vancouver BC
V6B 3X4