My week in politics

N Sturgen 3 (2)

My week in politics took place in the Members Lobby of the Scottish parliament, where I installed my #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition which drew  the First Minister, MSPs and  parliamentary staff  in to take a close look at the series of  installations summarising my findings of both macro & micro plastics  found on 120 beaches over the last two years.

The exhibition comprised of a stand of  vials of sand samples from around Scotland, a lightbox/petra dish particle display, a melted plastic ‘BOTTLE’ and a group of #LitterCUBES. All of which formed part of  my recent exhibition NEO Terra.

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The installations provided strong visual points for my colleague Sita Goudie (Environmental Officer from the Shetland Amenity Trust ) and I to draw people in to  discuss the volume of plastic pollution on Scottish beaches its sources, prevalence of micro plastics  in beaches , the common dangerous actions of people burning plastic on beaches.

Throughout the exhibition Sita I  handed out a summary of  EVIDENCE collected from 120 beaches in SCOTLAND  [60 NW Highland  and 60 Shetland beaches 2016-17] :

  • Every Beach had some form of Plastic Pollution visible
  • Plastic particles were found in sand samples from 85 of 120 beaches
  • Burning plastic on beaches is common practice – melted plastic recovered from 47% of beaches sampled.
  • Annual beach cleans collect an average of 150-350 kg of rubbish per 100m
  • 90% of litter  on Northern Scotland’s beaches comes from commercial fishing and aquaculture

In response over  30 MSPs responded to the exhibition/evidence and completed PLEDGE cards  stating that they acknowledged the scale of the problem and  selected a series of  actions they are prepared to take – which we will be putting on-line in the New Year.

PLEDGE CARD #CleanBeachesScotland

A big highlight of the week was the #CleanBeachesScotland event hosted by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Littoral Art Project – the event took place in the  David Livingston Room where the exhibition was relocated for the evening and joined by displays and members from MCS , Dunna Chuck Bruck – Shetland Amenity Trust ( SAT), SAMS – Scottish Association for Marine Science, FIDRA – Environmental Charity based in East Lothian, KIMO – Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation.

Over 50 invited people attended – including over 15 organisations plus researchers, harbour masters, activists and apparently a record 9 MSP’s . Joan McAlpine MSP  opened the event which celebrated and confirmed a determined a wide commitment to bring about #CleanBeachesScotland.


Many thanks to all who attended and helped to make this event happen, particularly to Joan McAlpine for sponsoring the exhibition, to Sita Goudie for working every day and evening engaging MSPs in the lobby and on Twitter, Catherine Gemmel and Calum Duncan of Marine Conservation Society and John McPherson use of his great photograph of Nairn beach. I look forward to working with you all again.





5 thoughts on “My week in politics

  1. This was a bringing together of years of amazing work by you Julia. Work which drew in hundreds of people – young and old and has resulted in powerful artworks which really make us think about and realise our individual and collective responsibility to protecting the environment. Well done indeed and let’s hope this is an important turning point where we see MSP’s galvanized towards radical action and legislation to safeguard our coastlines.

    1. Thankyou for your positive and supportive comment, very much appreciated, especially as I am completing evaluation of my exhibitions/work for Creative Scotland Open Project Funding award I received. I am looking forward to posting the MSP’S pledges next week as Parliament returns .

  2. Well done Julia and such a positive end to a year of hard work and campaigning and fantastic to have the pledges and begin the new year on an active note of commitment. So pleased to receive this post.

  3. Fantastic work! Many, many congratulations on helping to put this vitally important issue on the political agenda, and in such an innovative and creative way.

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