Copyright-Neptunes-ArmyTypical cleaning project funded by Sea-Changers. © Neptunes Army

Stanley and Brenda Lopata will be using this month’s Wanstead Festival to champion the work of their daughter, who is striving to improve the UK’s seas and beaches through her charity Sea-Changers

Seven years ago, my husband, Stanley, and I moved to this area after having lived in the same house in Buckhurst Hill for 44 years. According to popular wisdom, this should have been a really traumatic experience, but it has turned out to be a wonderful new phase in our lives.

We love Wanstead – its diverse and vibrant community and its proximity to London and Epping Forest. However, one thing that Wanstead cannot boast is a marine and coastal environment. Why then are we choosing to put our efforts into supporting the charity Sea-Changers? Let me explain.

Since we moved, we have both been attending art classes and were delighted to have pieces of work in group exhibitions during last year’s art trail. We both joined Art Group Wanstead and we wanted to be involved in the Wanstead Festival, but as amateurs, we didn’t want to take a venue in the High Street to display our work.

Back to Sea-Changers. This is a charity set up nine years ago by our daughter, Rachel, and her partner, Helen. They have been scuba-diving for many years and have seen how dramatically the marine environment is deteriorating, how beaches are polluted by plastics and how wildlife is being decimated. They have worked tirelessly, with an amazing team of volunteers, to make a difference to the seas and beaches around the British Isles, funding research projects, organising beach cleans and raising awareness in schools and workplaces. So many people, whether they are regular sea users or city dwellers, are now concerned about the state of the oceans.

We have secured a stall at the Wanstead Festival, and we have asked local artists, many of whom we have met through our art classes, to consider donating a piece of their work to Sea-Changers. On 15 September, we will be displaying their artwork on our stall and asking festival-goers to donate to the charity and choose a work on paper for £5, on board or canvas for £10 or a framed piece for £20. We are delighted by the response from artists, who are being very generous and seem more than pleased to be supporting this important charity. We have also arranged a link on Art Group Wanstead’s Charity Aid Foundation giving page. This means anyone reading this article who cannot visit the festival but who wishes to support the charity can do so.

A sea life art workshop will also take place at the festival to tie in with our stall’s theme and we hope that Wanstead landlubbers will be inspired by the Sea-Changers story.

For more information on the workshop, visit wnstd.com/art.
To find out more about Sea-Changers and to make a donation, visit wnstd.com/sea
Devonsbrook Bathrooms (3–5 Devon House, Hermon Hill) will display a range of the Lopatas’ paintings during the art trail to support Sea-Changers.