Shoreline Energy

Winter storms, spring tides and soft snowfalls along nearby shorelines are providing much needed injections of raw energy, to blast away the increasingly felt COVID restrictions.

Determined to stay well and to break through the creative blocks tripping me up at the entrance to my studio, I’m pushing myself to take regular shots of shoreline adrenaline

When it’s safe I collect the storm-thrown plastic draped across rocks and caught in rolls of seaweed, enjoying being part of an ever more popular movement towards #Greenfitness

A way to enhance fitness and health while taking action to improve the outdoor environment.

In November I led two shoreline walks collecting plastic litter from the rolls of washed-up seaweed on local beaches, a #greenfitness commission for the Ullapool Feel Good Festival, to encourage people to be active in the winter, to stay healthy.

The plastic rope and nets collected will be made into skipping rope equipment in partnership with Plastic@bay and Green hive (Community Interest Companies) and available for use in local schools with events like skipathons and skipping challenges organised by Ullapool Community Sport Hub later this year.

It’s bracing and challenging being out and active in the winter especially when working on wind- blown beaches, but one walker commented “Being out and active in winter feels daring and crazy but also great, especially when you know you are helping the environment”. 

This ‘Recycle to Stay Fit’ project with its dual fitness legacy of beach cleaning and skipping has now attracted regional support to get it going. Please follow on



I am often asked how I continue to work with marine litter year after year, fortunately I have a counterbalance, my love of seaweed. Seaweed has proven to be a beautiful counterbalance and antidote to my work with plastic beach litter. I recently shared my story with the Marine Conservation Society and Salvage Scotland.

Seaweed enjoyment photo: @paulbartondop

Over the coming months I will be featuring exciting plans for the re-scheduled ‘Isle Martin Seaweed Festival’ #YCW2020 now taking place in 2021. I talk more about the festival in my recent conversation with John Ennis, Curator of Salvage Scotland’s Design Journey Journey to Isle Martin with artist Julia Barton .

Journey to Isle Martin with artist Julia Barton

To read more of my balancing act with litter and seaweed, visit the Marine Conservation Society Magazine  for my interview with Clare Fischer ‘Seaweed, Science and Installations’.  

Working on #LitterCUBES photo: @paulbartondop

While I continue to weave and thread marine litter, I will share my love of seaweed on Instagram @juliabartonartist  

Take a look. Please leave a comment/like here or on the above website links. Thank You!

Kelp – Spring Tides

Kelp – Spring Tides

After years working along the high tide lines of the upper shores in Scotland, over the last few months I have been able to take advantage of the extreme low spring tides and venture into the lower shore which is only accessible on foot for a limited number of hours a year. rocky Coigach shoreline 4Extending my investigations into the lower littoral zone has involved a series of slow and tricky journeys. Most of the shorelines of Coigach are extremely rocky so the lower shores have to be reached climbing over crags, boulders, pebbles and navigating narrow inlets. Inlet to lower shoreline 4

thongweed CU low tide 4

I’ve been documenting and identifying the changing seaweed forms noting their colours, textures and taste .

As the tide finally stopped receding l was aware of having reached the extreme low water line, a fascinating dynamic place. Calm, good weather made perfect conditions to observe the largest of the brown marine algae, commonly known as Kelp.

Kelp exposed low waterline 4

Varietties of kelp at low water 4For a few hours I examined the kelp beds, formed mostly by a strong leathery expanse of seaweed, including several of the Laminaria species, holding fast onto boulders beneath my feet and rock surfaces all around me.

Kelp hanging 4

kelp holdfast 4 Under their fronds I glimpsed a little of the sea life they attract and protect, including sea urchins and orange cushion starfish.

I have collected and dried bundles of Laminaria as I am contributing to a Kelp experiment being conducted by local archaeologist Cathy Dagg, who is researching            how the Kelping industry operated in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

My passion for seaweed grows exponentially every time I walk onto a beach and look into a rock pool. I am looking forward to making contact with other Seaweed-obsessed artists. Next year I will be curating the Isle Martin Seaweed Festival originally planned as part of Visit Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters #YCW2020, now rescheduled to take place in 2021. Many unique activities and events with scientists, artists, chefs, archaeologists, seafarers, musicians, students, residents and visitors will take place.

photographing kelp 2


Until then I will continue enjoying observing, recording and experimenting on the shoreline and in my studio.


Kelp stretched covered rock Dornie 2


Oil: Making the Connection

Oil: Making the Connection

I want to produce a short film to show the connection between plastic waste and the loss of oil that it represents. During my #LitterCUBES events 2019, I found that hundreds of people were unaware that plastic is primarily made from oil

I plan to work again with Shetland film maker JJ Jamieson. I intend the film to be projected with the #LitterCUBES in the lead up to  Cop26 Climate Conference. I need £2,500 to cover the very basic costs of making and editing the film.


You can make a donation by clicking on the orange DONATE button at the top of the page.  In return you will receive a limited edition print of my ‘2020 Message in a Bottle’ photograph.    Thank you!

Message in A Bottle (2)

Many thanks to all of the following for supporting the making of the #LitterCUBES: Ullapool Harbour Trust, Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage, and for donations from: individuals, Eyemouth Marine Ltd, rag, Sheihallion, Ullapool Harbour Trust and support in kind from Eyemouth Harbour, Dunbar Harbour Trust  plus  North Light Arts and An Talla Solais  for their support with the #LitterCUBES events. Thanks also to  volunteers and all those who donated money to make these events possible.



Looking out to sea through yet another plastic bottle picked up from the rocks of a Scottish beach, my resolve is to use my art as activism. To show and tell a local Scottish story which is contributing to #ClimateChange and to add to the global evidence that scientists, the media, activists and commentators are cataloguing to pressure world leaders into making decisions that will mitigate global warming and its increasing effects on climate and world ecology.

Our actions using and allowing plastic to bleed into our seas contributes to the waste of finite resources (Embodied Energy) that the plastic represents.

Help me show this local – global connection to the #ClimateEmergency in Glasgow during the next UN summit COP26. Please get in touch/leave suggestions of contacts that might enable me to share this story.


Looking to 2020

As I take stock of my project this year making 20 #LitterCUBES, I am inspired by the  hundreds of conversations that were triggered at events, about our Climate Emergency and our need to urgently change our habits.

I am convinced that Art more than ever must reach out to connect people and help to bring about change.

In 2020 I want to take my #LitterCUBES to COP26, the next Climate Conference which will be held in Glasgow. So, I have put together this 2 minute video pitch, to reach out and link up with other artists, galleries, arts and environmental organisations beginning to plan events in Glasgow.

Please share the video, leave a comment below or get in touch via

Looking to recycling

‘I feel an awful lot of people would like to see recycling taking off. Projects like yours have successfully put plastic pollution in the public gaze. I feel we are at the point where we are waiting for a workable recycling process to happen especially in harbours. Connections need to be made especially in the fishing industry.’  Eyemouth Harbour Master, Richard Lawton

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It is for this reason that all the #LitterCUBES events have taken place in unexpected locations like the old Eyemouth fish market, under the gaze of passers-by, giving the opportunity of making connections between young and old, trawler crews, visitors, divers, fish merchants and residents.  Even on chilly days questions are asked, conversations begin and un-thought of connections are made.

Broad discussions with the local fish-merchant about the recycle-ability of fish boxes and box strapping, led to a useful connection with a visiting packaging supplier keen to emphasise the ‘good & bad polymers’ e.g. the ease of recycling Polypropylene products compared to Polystyrene ones, which is less easy especially when contained fish and absorbed fish oils & blood.

My Polypropylene #LitterCUBES made from prawn boxes and strapping now have an end destination in Grimsby in 2021 after showing the finished collection next year.  All the bottle CUBES including the one started in Eyemouth will be easily recyclable as they are made from valuable PET [Polyethylene terephthalate].

It is the heavy Rope/net and fine fishing line CUBES that the enthusiastic young people from Eyemouth High and  Primary Schools joined in weaving and sewing that will prove more difficult to recycle. The end of life of the thousands of pieces of rope and fishing line, collected on the Berwickshire beaches by tens of beach cleaners locally is far less certain. Please get in touch with recycling possibilities!

Eyemouth group shot

A massive thanks to all who took part, particularly the schools and teachers, plus supporting organisations Splash, Berwickshire Marine Reserve, Blue Marine Foundation, Eyemouth HarbourEyemouth Harbour and Eyemouth Hippodrome. I am grateful to the many donations from supporters through Crowd Funding and philanthropic arts, community & environment trusts, plus local business Eyemouth Marine Ltd.

“As someone who is concerned about the future health of our marine environment, I would encourage everyone to take action and change habits to ensure the health of our seas. At Eyemouth Marine we are conscious of this, and take steps to minimise our impact on the marine environment.

By supporting the #LitterCUBES project we hope to highlight the scale of marine plastic pollution; This is an issue for our community locally as well as a national concern, and Julia’s display’s in Eyemouth will serve as a reminder to us all of our responsibility to look after our seas, we have one world, one ocean, we need to look after it”.

Patrick Flockhart, Director Eyemouth Marine Ltd





Weaving connections in Eyemouth


Preparation is underway to weave thousands of pieces plastic cord, rope, net, fishing line and hundreds of plastic bottles collected along the Berwickshire coast into 3 #LitterCUBES.  Each cube will also contain a 30% mix of materials from the NW Highlands, East Lothian, Shetland and Angus and will present an account of the nature, scale and the complexities of marine plastic pollution in our coastal communities. I hope it will inform the need to break with polluting habits and expose the actual value of plastic involved.

The week’s events will provide practical opportunities to weave together and to weigh and calculate the energy value of plastic pollution

Public events at SPLASH, Community Space, along Eyemouth’s Quayside  everyone welcome, free and fully accessible event.

Thurs 26th 3-5 pm           Fri 27th 1-5 pm              Sat 28th Sept 10 am – 5 pm

Thanks to everyone for collecting litter items and to Eyemouth Hippodrome, Voluntary Marine Reserve, Eyemouth Harbour Trust, SPLASH Commuity Trust, for in-kind support and for donations from Eyemouth Marine, local residents, crowd funding and philanthropic arts, community and environment trusts.


Plus a wider thanks to Ullapool Harbour Trust, Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape,the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage, and for donations from: individuals,  rag, Sheihallion, Dunbar Harbour Trust   North Light Arts and An Talla Solais  for their support with the #LitterCUBES events. Thanks also to  volunteers and all those who donated money to make these events possible.  Please get in touch if you would like to learn more/join the events.



Angus Coastal Festival

Glad to be in Arbroath to launch this year’s Angus Coastal Festival (13- 23rd Sept) with its bio-diverse programme of events, covering all the things I love and enjoy about working within the Scottish Littoral  zones, from the geology of cliffs, rocks and pebbles, to investigating rock pools, identifying seaweeds, coastal plants, butterflies and bird life. And importantly connecting and working with people who care and want to help to make our marine environment healthy and sustainable.

Over 12 beach cleans are taking place, already tonnes have been removed from Arbroath beaches and more bottles saved  by the Ladyloan Primary School  with Turning the Plastic Tide and Our East Haven  volunteers for the Angus #LitterCUBES.  60 eager pupils joined me to learn more about sculpture, plastic as a material and its origin in oil and energy. I am asking  Festival goers to join me today Saturday 14th threading and weaving the next #LitterCUBES at the Arbroath Signal Tower from fishing net and rope. All welcome.