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Woman’s lost mixtape washes up on beach 25 years later

© Stella Wedell/PA WireStella Wedell on holiday in Spain in the early 1990s. where she lost her mixtape
Stella Wedell on holiday in Spain in the early 1990s. where she lost her mixtape

A woman has been reunited with a mixtape she lost on holiday after it washed up on a beach 25 years later – and it still plays the tracks she recorded on it.

Stella Wedell was 12 when she took the tape to listen to her favourite songs on her Walkman while in the Costa Brava and Mallorca in 1993.

The cassette, featuring hits by artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Bob Marley and Shaggy, went missing and she feared it had been lost forever.

She was stunned to spot the mixtape, along with a list of the 20 songs she had recorded on it, on display at a photography exhibition she visited during a holiday to Stockholm in 2019.

It had washed up on a beach in Fuerteventura, more than 1,200 miles from where Ms Wedell had last seen it, in 2017 and was recovered by UK artist Mandy Barker.

Barker sent the tape to a professional audio restorer, who managed to listen to all the tracks, and it was included in her touring exhibition Sea of Artefacts.

“When I was reading the tracklist, it seemed very familiar to me,” Ms Wedell said.

“So I took a picture of it and compared it with the original CD from 1993, which I still have – and it was exactly the same tracklist, but starting with track three.

“I remember that I didn’t like the first two songs on the CD because I felt they were too old so I wouldn’t have included them when I recorded the mixtape aged 12.

“I also have an association with the Jungle Book song and this was always the third track.

“I always made tapes from my CDs at this time to listen to them with my Walkman, especially for holidays, and to think that a tape I could have lost more than 20 years ago had been found was incredible.”

© Stella Wedell/PA Wire
Stella Wedell

Ms Wedell, who lives in Berlin, had been on holiday in the Costa Brava resort of Empuriabrava and on the island of Majorca when she lost the tape.

It washed up on the beach at Playa de Barlovento de Jandia in Fuerteventura in 2017 and was collected by Barker, who has been examining the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans for around a decade.

She initially doubted it would play but was able to listen to all the tracks after sending it to the audio restorer and decided to include it in her exhibition.

The show, featuring 47 of her works, depicted the cassette tape in a vitrine alongside a full track listing to show its age.

It went on display at the Fotografiska in Stockholm between June and August 2019, with Ms Wedell emailing Barker on August 3.

Barker, whose work has been exhibited across the world, said: “To be honest, I couldn’t quite believe it for a while.

“Even after getting the tape to play, it was then an astounding chance for Stella to walk into my exhibition and recognise her tape.

“I thought the cassette could perhaps be missing the first couple of songs because the tape had been pulled out.

“But the restorer I worked with assures me that what he has recovered was the beginning of the tape and there was nothing missing before that.”

Through her photography, Barker has worked extensively with Professor Richard Thompson, who is head of the international marine litter research unit at the University of Plymouth.

She contacted him to relay the remarkable story of Ms Wedell discovering her lost tape more than 25 years on.

“This is an amazing story and another example of the problem of plastic pollution,” Prof Thompson said.

“It is very difficult to say exactly how long the tape has been in the sea, but the fact it has survived intact shows the durability of plastic and the threat it can pose to the marine environment.”

The tape will continue touring as part of Barker’s exhibition but will be returned to Ms Wedell afterwards.

Its tracklist is:

1. Somebody Dance With Me (Radio Mix) – DJ Bobo

2. Would I Lie To You? – Charles & Eddie

3. The Jungle Book Groove – Disney Cast

4. Rock With You – Inner Circle

5. Do You See The Light – Snap

6. One Love (Radio Version) – Dr Alban

7. More And More – Captain Hollywood Project

8. Oh Carolina (Radio Version) – Shaggy

9. The Key, The Secret (Glamorously Developed Edit) – Urban Cookie Collective

10. It Keeps Rainin’ (Tears From My Eyes) – Bitty McLean

11. Summer Summer (Radio Edit) – Loft

12. Never Let Her Slip Away – Undercover

13. Power Of American Natives – Dance 2 Trance

14. Iron Lion Zion (7″ Mix) – Bob Marley & The Wailers

15. Sweet Harmony – The Beloved

16. Give It Up – Cut ‘n’ Move

17. Go West – Pet Shop Boys

18. Runaway Train – Soul Asylum

19. (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You – UB40

20. Mr Vain – Culture Beat