Ullapool: collecting for NEO Terra

Ullapool collecting samplesNow back on the beaches of Wester Ross feeling the strong winds and immersed in tidal charts and large-scale OS maps on which I am plotting the remaining 32 beach locations to collect  sand & plastiglomerate samples from, needed to construct the NEO Terra exhibition. Opening at An Talla Solais on Sat 13th May

summer isles map (2)   polly bay   IMG_5478

Dates for the diary

April 17th- 29th  collection expeditions  follow on twitter and facebook North to Cape Wrath, South to Scoraig and Loch Ewe shorelines and West to 5 of the Summer Isles.

May 13th – 18th June : NEO Terra exhibition at An Talla Solais Gallery on West Argyle Street (Ullapool IV26 2UG)  open from 10am to 5pm

Dates for Gallery talks to be scheduled soon

May 19th – 20th: A walk along Isle Martin beach exploring  Time Deep as part of the iLAND Festival, A festival of Future Living and Community Resilience.  A 3 day, off-grid, island bound festival, celebrating that the ‘land and sea’

June 8th: World Ocean Day event, Ullapool Harbour

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Guide to Beach Litter

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The Littoral Art Project’s ‘Guide to Beach Litter’ written & produced by artist Julia Barton will be launched at the   Artists’ BookMarke Saturday 25 February, 2017Sunday 26 February, at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 11am–5pm. Free entry.

The Guide is a useful informative educational tool that with clear colour images helps to identify 40 different types of litter often found on beaches around the UK. It highlights the problem of beach litter and how understanding it better is the first step toward solving it.

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The reverse side answers a series of pertinent questions regarding the ever-increasing volumes of litter found on beaches and in our marine environment: What kinds of litter are there? Why does it matter? Where does it come from? Who is responsible? How long might litter last? With a section dedicated to taking action and  providing further  useful information.

guide-sandhopper-map

Come along to celebrate the launch of the ‘Guide to Beach Litter’ and help to promote the word about the Guide. I am looking for bookshops, museums, and visitor centres to stock the Guides, if you would like to place an order please get in touch via the comments box below or mail littoralartproject@btinternet.com  All comments posted about the Guide much appreciate. If you send a review in or place orders for 10 copies you will receive a free Guide! Retail price per Guide is £3 each, plus £1 postage & package (please ask for postage costs if ordering multiple copies ), trade discount for shops/resale.

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This year I will be showing works at the  Artists’ BookMarkewith fellow environmental artist Kate Foster, our books stem from our current themes of marine and wetland conservation respectively and focus on our fascination with the organisms that inspired our work – seaweeds and mosses.

artists-entanglement-with-polymers-on-the-shorelineEntanglement: an artist’s strandline journey with Polymers, Wracks and Laminaria

The selection of books I will  be showing with the Guide, include books comprised of drawings made responding to collections made in Shetlands Littoral Zones, made while artist in residence at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and ideas developing over the last 4 years walking the strandlines of NW Scotland. All proceeds made go to help support the development of the project reaching more communities.

Artists’ BookMarke Saturday 25 February, 2017Sunday 26 February, at The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF   11am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm. Free entry.

New Collection

In preparation for the projects second NEO Terra exhibition in May at An Talla Solais Gallery in Ullapool, I have begun collecting sand samples and plastiglomerates from beaches along the NW Highland coast.

ullapool-shoreline  scourie-beach-2min-collectiontarbet-beach-2min-collection  2min-collection

Snapshot photographs give an insightful picture of whats occurring on our beaches and in our seas. To expand this information I am asking followers of the project to  keep a look out for plastiglomerates and to tweet images  with #plastiglomerate with the name of the beach they were found on to @LittoralArt .

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Identification: Plastiglomerates are lumps of burnt plastic litter, that has melted and bonded with natural beach materials.

coloured-plastiglomerates They  are often highly colourful just like the plastic objects they once were , but most fade to look deceptively like the rocks and pebbles around them . They can take a lot of looking for, a give away sign is that they are much lighter than similar size  stones and relatively warm to touch

plastic rock reveal copy

I am hoping that fellow MCS beach watchers  engaged with monitoring beaches and all those involved with  marine plastic campaigns eg the   #2minutebeachclean and the #Nurdlehunt   will  join in exchanging information to help us build an increasingly comprehensive  documentation of the forms of plastic in the marine and coastal environment.

If any followers along the Scottish coastlines particularly in the NW highlands and the Western Isles  find stretches of beaches with lots of plastiglomerates please  contact me so I can  try to arrange to pick them up to use in the exhibition.

Over the next  10 days I’m visiting 12 beaches between Lochinver and Plockton and I’m inviting people to join me on Sat 4th Feb at Badentarbet beach 11am- 1pm; Friday 10th February at Ullapool (pier west side) 2-3.30pm; at Gairloch (meet at the Museum) Sat 2-3.30pm.  If the weather forecast is bad please check on line www.littoralartproject.com or ring  0797 7997605, please dress for winter conditions .

HOPE 2017

I am very happy to be back based in Ullapool and to begin collecting beach samples from along the  Wester Ross coastline..rhue-beach-jan-17 Rhue Beach – todays collection location

Over the next month I will be collecting  samples ffrom 60 beaches for examination in the NEO Terra  exhibition taking place at An Talla Solais‘s Caledonian Gallery May 13th -June 18th.   I intend involving as many people as possible in the collection and will be encouraging discussions as to how to build  HOPE for the future. Shared ideas will be added to those collected and sketched out from Shetland residents on HOPE isle  below…..  hope-isle-3_li Please add your own ideas  into the comments box below of ‘how we can stop plastic leaking into the environment and  improve environmental sustainability’ I will add them  to the isle of HOPE.  My own HOPE is based  on the support and feedback I have received to the  Littoral Art Projects 2016 ‘s achievements recorded below :

         Littoral Art Project LEGEND 2016

                               Featured Image -- 3554  nt-beach-samples-cu nt-beach-sample-results                 Exhibition: NEO Terra, Shetland Museum      Oct-Nov

                     img_3940 commando-lands terra-nova-end-statement                        Animation: Terra NOVA,  Shetland Museum     Oct-Nov

               scalloway-evidence-bags  magnifying-voxter  whalsay-micro-plastics                                 Education Workshops: across Shetland            May-June

                             COPcube2  cairn  img_0912                                            Presentation: Edinburgh Humanities Network – Deep Time    April

                           29th MArch IM collecting PR's plastic rock reveal copy  PR's section 2                   Expedition: to Isle Martin        March

                 Studio 4 Studio 4 TS Studio 4 postit                               Residency: at An Talla Solais developing animation storyboard

             CS logo 1 copy                                    Awarded  Creative Scotland -Open Project Funding towards LAP                                         exhibition in  Shetland and Ullapool 2016-17

NEO Terra: findings

On the 12th of November the final beach samples, taken from 60 beaches around Shetland, were carefully examined revealing a vast mix of  small plastic particles which were counted, recorded and projected across the exhibitions interactive space.

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51 of 60 beach samples taken from strandlines around Shetland contained plastic particles – Mangaster and Mavis Grind samples each contained over 100 plastic particles many  contained  Nurdles (plastic pellets being tracked across the world)

Many people returned to the exhibition for a final look and to share their own experiences of encountering beach litter, with stories of particular incidents of pollution from ship wrecks. In the early 1990’s two fish factory ships were wrecked close to Lerwick and residents from Gulberwick (a village a little way south) recounted  how they are still picking up debris from the wrecks particularly compressed foam (a form of plastic) from along their local  beach.  The plastic would have insulated the ships freezers. Perhaps next time the show is mounted there will be an island named WRECK, but for now the islands that made up New Lands /NEO Terra floor installation have been collapsed.

The majority of the plastiglomerates that I collected  from the beaches (25 boxes) and used to make the islands have now been placed in the Lerwick’s landfill facility.  Unfortunately this is the safest way to dispose of plastiglomerates which my have absorbed toxins from the sea. I bagged the few hundred  small plastiglomerates which had made up CORD isle to travel with me to new locations. The first of which was Southampton University   where I mixed together  plastglomerates from Shetland & Wester Ross to create  a geometric ‘Polymer Mix’ as part of my presentation for the ‘Being Human Festival’ focusing on the question ‘Is Plastic fantastic?’

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The delegates all agreed that plastic is a fantastic material as long as it stays within the economy – being reused and recycled. The vast leakage of plastic into the environment is damaging so many environments as witnessed here on beaches in Scotland, the UK and in oceans across the world. The leakages need to  be stopped whether it’s from factories, tourists on beaches , commercial fishing industries, agriculture or from toilets in our homes! One thing is sure we are all responsible.

NEO Terra will next be mounted in Ullapool at An Talla Solais’s  Caledonian Gallery next May – I will  begin my next collecting expedition to Wester Ross in the New Year. Please get in touch using the comment box below if you have any suggestions of where  the show might  travel too/be shown or have any comment/questions.

Is Plastic Fantastic?

A week on from closing  the exhibition  in Lerwick I will be showing the Terra Nova animation as part of the ‘Being Human Fair’ in Southampton University.

Is Plastic Fantastic? at Hands-On Humanities Day

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The toy commando & I will be sharing my story of entanglement with plastic marine litter.  Please come and join us the event is free.

Date/Time
Date(s) – 19/Nov/2016
10:30 am – 4:30 pm

Location
Avenue Campus Events

Join us for Is Plastic Fantastic?, a day-long, two-part event taking place as part of the Hands-On Humanities Day, November 19th, on the Avenue Campus*.

The morning session* will feature hands-on family activities that will raise awareness of ocean plastics in a creative and scientific way, including art creations in order to reflect on how sea-life is being affected by plastics; archaeological activities with real stone-age tools to discuss modern-day recycling and how archaeologists of the future will understand how we live today through the consumption of plastics; and a demonstration of how plastic ducks drift in the ocean! The aim of the sessions are to encourage participants to become active citizens in their everyday lives in reducing and recycling plastics and caring for the oceans.

Morning sessions will each run at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30 and include:

  • Interactive Workshop 1: ‘An Archaeology of Plastics’, led By Dr Helen Farr (Room 1093)
  • Interactive Workshop 2: ‘Ocean Plastics and Drifts’, led By Professor Bob Marsh (Room 1095)
  • Interactive Workshop 3: ‘Creative Responses to Ocean plastic pollution’ led by visual Artist Natalie Searle and Dr Jane Lavery (Room 1097)

*Please note that spaces are limited for the morning sessions, so be sure to book your free tickets online now. When booking please choose which workshops and session times you would like to attend, being careful to ensure that your time slots for the individual workshops do not overlap. And be sure to also book your overall Hands-On Humanities Day tickets on eventbrite (link).

The afternoon session is aimed at a broader audience, with talks and discussions, short films, a poetry reading and a multimedia exhibition looking at the possibilities and problems with Ocean plastics. The multi-media talks will begin at 14:00 and finish at 4 pm with the opportunity  for attendees to take time to look at a selection of Julia Barton’s ‘Littoral Artworks‘  before and after the session. The talk will be given by leading ocean plastics expert Dr Erik Van Sebille (Imperial College), Latin American Studies Lecturer Dr Jane Lavery (Southampton University) and Visual Artist Julia Barton (http://www.littoralartproject.com). Julia Barton will lead a  walk-and-talk discussion of her works allowing audiences ask questions and contribute to the afternoons thinking.

The schedule of afternoon talks is as follows:

  • 2:00 Welcome
  • 2:05 Dr Jane Lavery Plastics: Hope, Fear and Interdisciplinarity between the Sciences and Humanities to energise communities
  •  2:20 Dr Erik Van Sebille:  The problem of plastic in our ocean. There’s too much plastic in our ocean. But where does it come from? Where does it do most harm? And what can we do about it?
  • 3: 05 Julia Barton: Terra Nova – an artists journey along the shores of our Polymer Sea

*For detailed directions and information on parking at the Avenue Campus, please follow this map link.


Is Plastic Fantastic? is based on current research and outreach activities conducted by hub lead Dr Jane Lavery (Modern Languages) in partnership with Dr Sarah Bowskill (Queen’s University Belfast) The Clipperton Project (TCP) (http://www.clippertonproject.com/), leading experts in oceanography Dr Erik Van Sebille (Imperial College) and Professor Bob Marsh (Southampton University) ;   Dr Helen Farr (Archaeology/ Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI) at the University of Southampton), TCP artists Natalie Searle and Julia Barton (http://www.julia-barton.co.uk/index.htm) and Dr Devon-Cambell Hall (Southampton Solent University). Their work encourages people to think about their mental and physical surroundings and environmental issues in the context of ocean waste and natural/plastic drift through interdisciplinary activity between the humanities, arts and sciences.

Plastics produce both fascination and horror. Polymers have infiltrated every single aspect of our lives. Indeed, plastic and general high volume non-biodegradable commodity goods are fascinating to us because they are deeply enmeshed in our everyday existences: not only do they provide ease of living but they are equally part of our ‘extended life’ (Fisher 2014, 108). They provide us with hope too: from medical to nano-technology innovations, this highly durable material has helped human life for the better. As Fisher notes the materiality of objects ‘means that they are more than matter to us – they matter to us’ (108). But plastic is also a source of fear. Again Fisher remarks that as soon as plastic objects become part of human waste, they ‘turn from useful extensions of ourselves in the world to being things we want to void, to get rid of’ (Fisher, 108). Nowhere better is this sense of fear encapsulated than in ocean plastics. Unlike climate change, which has been widely debated and extensively covered in the media, ocean litter is still a little known phenomenon in terms of the true extent of its impact on fauna, flora and human health (see e.g. Van Sebille http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34108017). It is a subject which many would prefer to ignore, fueled in part by the monstrous media images of seals, turtles and whales caught in fishing nets, by misconstrued ideas about whirlpools, or gyres, purporting to be the size of cities, as well as by misconceptions that the damage caused by plastics to the oceans and wildlife occurs in the high-seas rather than right on the doorstep of our shoreline (Van Sebille, 2013).

The plastic problem is so vast it is difficult to see how we can possibly do anything to help the situation, but we can. Via showcasing the interaction between sciences and humanities in tackling ocean plastics, this event is thus about making people turn a perceived problem into a possibility, into hope. Simple changes in one’s everyday lives means we can all contribute in reducing the amount of plastic waste in our lives and oceans and to reuse the existing plastic (or use other biodegradable materials) in more productive ways.  Both the family event and multimedia talks will hopefully foster, particularly in children, but adults too, not merely a conceptual understanding of the issue but also a desire to be incentivised, via creative involvement, to become an active and responsible citizen in relation to the environment and ocean plastics. Even at the eleventh hour, there is still hope.


Project leader Dr Jane Lavery is a Hispanic Studies lecturer (University of Southampton) who specializes in Latin American Cultural Studies. One of her areas of interest is in ecocritical perspectives in the face of environmental crisis, the interdisciplinary dialogue between the sciences and the humanities and the role of the arts in energizing communities. In 2015 she was the project lead for the a week-long event, in partnership with TCP artist Nat Seale and academics Erik Van Sebille, Helen Farr and others, at a primary school in Bournemouth in which the entire curriculum was dedicated to ocean plastics resulting in the mobilization of 2000 pupils, staff and parents and the creation of artworks, musical instruments, performances, creative written pieces, sports activities and an ongoing school eco pledge aimed at the reduction in plastics at the school and at home. Lavery  is the coauthor with Dr Sarah Bowskill (Queen’s University Belfast) of ‘The Clipperton Project: Failure, Interdisciplinary “Ecotopia” and the Role of Art in Responding to Environmental Challenges’ which is in the process of being reviewed by peer-reviewed journal Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.Professor Bob Marsh (Southampton University)  specializes on drifting all natural objects at sea which set out from a point source or beach, such as volcanic pumice or juvenile turtles. Here are links to two recent papers on these drifting objects:

Jutzeler, M., Marsh, R., Carey R. J., White, J. D. L., Talling, P. J., and L. Karlstrom (2014). On the fate of pumice rafts formed during the 2012 Havre submarine eruption. Nature Communications, 5, 3660.
Scott, R., Marsh, R., and Hays, G. C. (2014). Ontogeny of long distance migration. Ecology, 95, 2840-2850.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1890/13-2164.1/full

Dr Erik Van Sebille (Imperial College) specializes in ocean waste and plastic drifts. See the plasticadrift.org tool. Also see co-written article in Science Journal For Teens, on how to clean up the ocean.

Also see Sherman, Peter, and Erik van Sebille. “Modeling marine surface microplastic transport to assess optimal removal locations.” Environmental Research Letters 11.1 (2016): 014006. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/1/014006

Julia Barton is a visual artist whose work is rooted in sculpture, she makes artworks that respond to her experience of both the nature and culture of a place. Her practice has developed from permanent land-art to temporary installation works, increasingly she has made works with the aim of drawing attention to our wasteful society.  In 2013 she set up a Sci-Art project into the nature and volume of beach litter which she began in Ross-shire. Julia works across disciplines and has intuitively developed working relationships with a marine biologist, geologist and conservationists.  Central to her practice is encouraging communities she works with/in to witness her findings, to facilitate this she creates mobile exhibitions, performances and interactive events. Her new  multi media exhibition ‘NEO Terra’ is the culmination of 3 years work on Scottish beaches. http://www.littoralartproject.com/

Dr Devon Campbell-Hall is an energetic, transatlantic lecturer who loves every aspect of teaching literature. She completed a PhD entitled ‘Writing Asian Britain in Contemporary Anglophone Literature’ at the University of Winchester, where she also earned an MA in English: Contemporary Literature. Her BA in English is from Chapman University in California. She was a key contributor to the development of Southampton Solent University’s English degrees and now serves as the Course Leader for the BA (Hons) English degree.

Devon is a Fellow of the HEA, a member of the South Asian Literary Association (US) and the Association of Commonwealth Language and Literature Society (Europe) and is actively engaged in presenting her research at international conferences. Academic publications to date include peer-reviewed articles, a study guide, book chapters and reviews of several books on various aspects of contemporary and postcolonial literature.

Regularly sought out as an inspirational speaker and workshop leader, Devon is passionate about widening participation in higher education, and has a genuine commitment to helping students – particularly those who have entered University via non-traditional means – to reach their academic potential.

Nat Searle is an artist based in Leeds. She is primarily a printmaking, however runs a multi disciplinary practice. Alongside her screen prints, recent work also includes public art installations on walls and fences in the UK and Mexico. Inspiration is drawn from her immediate environment with resulting work being site specific. This has become a significant feature of her practice as she increasingly undertakes international residencies. Due to the expeditionary nature of these residencies, environmental issues are often highlighted through the pieces she creates.