Whenever Lou McCurdy visited the beach with her family she was always surprised by how much rubbish gathered on the shoreline.

She decided to collect the most intriguing examples.

Now the artist and mother-offour is staging an exhibition of artwork made from junk salvaged from the beach between Hove Lagoon and Shoreham power station over the past year.

The festival fringe show at Brighton Fishing Museum on the seafront includes buoys with cigarette lighter spikes and sculptures made of sun-bleached washing-up bottles and wave-battered combs.

Mrs McCurdy said her weekly beachcombing trips have made her more aware of the rhythm of the sea.

"A lot of stuff obviously gets washed off container ships, because some days the beach has been absolutely covered in rubber gloves or shoes," she said.

"Six to eight weeks after the Napoli was beached on the Devon coast I found lots of shampoo bottles and Kinder eggs.

"I find a lot of lighters, bottle tops, washing-up bottles and also a great number of toothpaste tubes, for some reason.

"String is another one - I've got a ball of string which started as a single piece of string and is now so big I have to push it along like a big snowball."

Mrs McCurdy, 44, has a tidal clock in her kitchen in Seven Dials, Brighton, to check when the tide is out.

Weather conditions such as high winds also make it more likely that debris will be washed up.

She said the project has made her increasingly concerned about marine pollution and that is one of the messages she hopes to get across to visitors.

Goose barnacles are just one of the creatures which suffer.

She said: "People call them ocean hitch-hikers because they attach themselves to plastic and get blown off course. I've found them washed up dead on Brighton beach, killed by the cold."

The exhibition More Plastic Than Plankton has proved popular with the public, attracting more than 600 people last Sunday alone.

Mrs McCurdy is on hand every day to talk to visitors.

She said: "People have been very interested in the exhibition and they've been sharing their stories.

"I had a couple from the Isle of Dogs visit last weekend who told me they once found a shoe washed up - with a foot still in it."

The exhibition is free, open between 10am and 5pm, and runs until May 22.