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.
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?’
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.