Two and half years ago, artist George Boorujy tossed a message in a bottle into Wolfe’s Pond Park on Staten Island. Last week, that bottle was found on France’s southwestern coast—ironically enough, by a French artist.
The bottle, containing an original drawing by the PPOW Gallery-represented artist of a cormorant, was recovered on a beach in La Tremblade in Charente-Maritime, just north of Bordeaux. Brigitte Bartholomew found the bottle in a bunch of garbage during a February 16 walk on the beach with her husband Alain and their Elton dog. Intrigued by bottle’s shell encrustation and its inscription “New York Pelagic”, Ms. Bartholomew opened the bottle to reveal two parchments in perfect condition: one containing the drawing and the other a typed letter congratulating whom ever discovered the bottle. The letter included an email address, encouraging discoverers to get in touch.
The story has gotten a lot of media coverage in France, even making the evening news. It appears the project’s intention—to bring attention to the protection of pelagic birds, and how they are affected by giant garbage patches in the world’s oceans—has had impact. (The idea being that those who find the bottle may be curious enough to find information about the birds on Boorujy’s website.) “My husband and me, we are going to contact the association concerned by the birds, and also by the ‘no respect’ of the (sic) environnement,” wrote Brigitte in her email to Boorujy. “VICTORY FOR THE BOTTLE.”
“When I saw the messages of Alain and Brigitte, I was amazed and overjoyed,” said George Boorujy to daily French newspaper Sud-Ouest on Monday. “In addition, they seem to appreciate my approach. And the fact that Brigitte is also a painter adds an extraordinary side.”
New York Pelagic is the name of Boorujy’s ongoing project where he has put original drawings of seabirds into bottles and tosses them in New York waterways. Since 2011, the bottles have drifted upon the shores of Virginia Key and Connecticut’s Sheffield Island. But the bottle found last week has been the project’s furthest discovery — 3542 miles from its original launch.
The only downside to the discovery? Boorujy recently joined Instagram, and all his followers are French—a language he doesn’t know. “Follow me so I don’t have to learn another language,” he wrote in an mass email obtained by AFC.