Exhibition: Edinburgh’s Shoreline


Edinburgh’s Shoreline  

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the exhibition runs until Sun 23 Sept 2018

My work MARINE PLASTIC OF SCOTLAND [Lothian] littoralis: belonging to the shoreline, is on display at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It is a collection of common plastic litter items found along Edinburgh’s shoreline. Their classification and display reflecting the herbarium’s taxonomy and preservation techniques. The analogy of colonising species echoes plastic’s living origin – oil. 

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh  opening times: 10.00 am — 5.45 pm                       Venue:John Hope Gateway , free entry.

1Please visit the exhibition, take a closer look and let me know what you think. 3



Shoreline Specimens



Join me along Edinburgh City shoreline on World Environment Day  Tuesday 5 June and World Oceans Day Friday 8 June where I will be collecting plastic litter samples to classify for my specimen  collection for the Shoreline Project exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh opening on 23rd June.

Please come – all community members and visitors welcome to join me in examining the specimens ready for classification.

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Meet at  Portobello beach on  Tuesday 5 June 10 – 11am  and New Haven/Wardie Bay  on Friday 8 June  1 pm

email for other times and locations.

Environmental Award

Environmental Award

IMG_9529 (2)I would like to thank all people involved from Shetland who helped Littoral Sci Art Project win a Shetland Environmental Award 2017

As communities  across Shetland  tackle the annual spring  ‘Da Voar Redd Up’ Beach Cleans,  I am happy  to share a recent Radio Shetland broadcast on #PlasticPollution  featuring  a report with Sita Goudie the Shetland Amenity Trust Environmental Improvement officer in which she describes  Littoral Art Project’s educational work  across Shetland in 2016.

Click here to listen >

This year’s awards were sponsored by Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Islands Council, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Shetland Civic Society, VisitScotland, Shetland Bird Club and Shetland Amenity Trust.  The awards plaques were sponsored and supplied by Cunningsburgh based Enviroglass, which recycles Shetland’s waste glass.

Link to the full programme Plastic Pollution  : https://www.mixcloud.com/BBCShetland/beyond-the-briggistanes-thursday-22-march-2018/






Close Examination

Close Examination

identifying plastic particles

Close Examination ULLAPOOL FERRY TERMINAL Fri 23 March 7.30 pm 

An investigative performance by S3 Ullapool High School pupils in collaboration with artist Julia Barton as part of the Littoral Art Project, telling the research journey that we have undertaken along Ullapool Harbour shoreline over the last few years.

Opens at 7.30pm for viewing the display of the Littoral Art Project findings recently exhibited at the Scottish Parliament. Plus updates on actions being taken to Beat Plastic Pollution by the Harbour’s Fishing for Litter Scheme and Ullapool Primary School’s ‘No Plastic Straw Campaign’. Performance starts 8pm – lasting approximately 30 mins

All welcome



Littoral reflection

Littoral reflection

Winter snowfalls are providing a welcome respite from seeing strand-line plastic – allowing time for focusing on the natural forms of familiar Northern shorelines.   IMG_8703 (3)                         One of the lowest tides this winter took place on the 2nd February- allowing access to see some of the biggest and heaviest of our marine algae – Laminaria (Kelp) beautifully bowed over, shiny and relaxed in the slack water . IMG_8791 IMG_8790 IMG_8793 IMG_8798                 The ‘stand of the tide’ provided me the opportunity for a few hours observation of these brown  seaweeds. Close up its easy to appreciate that they produce the main plant material for the coastal food web. Anchored along the low water line and out into the sub-tidal zone the submerged kelp form ‘forests’ – a perfect habitat for fish, shellfish and other animals to get food and find hiding places. img006The rich biodiversity of our coastline is fascinating and clear to see when walking through this dynamic inter-tidal world/zone .

IMG_8800 IMG_8830 As the media begins to wake up to the ‘Plastic Pollution’ issue evidenced on our shore lines, I revel in my momentary ‘Plastic Free’ time in the Littoral Zones

reinvigorated  by many winter walks in this rich dynamic environment I am preparing to seek out support for my work – to visually tell the story of this important ecological CONTACT ZONE that is now constantly  battered and often smothered by our litter.

I am looking for online help to crowd fund for the next  phase of this project focusing on making work in public settings this year, to be toured to Harbours, Ports, Museums, Street Festivals next year. Please get in touch if you can offer any help by leaving a comment below or emailing me Julia Barton littoralartproject@btinternet.com

31 MSP’s pledge to take action on plastic

31 MSP’s pledge to take action on plastic

31 MSPs pledged to take action on plastic pollution by signing at #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition & event at Holyrood in December 2017. I created the exhibition based on my recent  NEO Terra  installation shown in both Shetland & Ullapool, to illustrate to MSP’s the scale of coastal & marine plastic pollution in Scotland.

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Of the MSPs who signed, 50% ticked all of the pledges demonstrating a personal commitment to backing measures to reduce the amount of plastic that contaminates our beaches and sea. 63% are keen to meet with Littoral Art Project to take a closer look at plastic pollution along their constituency shorelines. We will meet local beach cleaning groups (Marine Conservation Society MCS , Surfers Against Sewage SAS and  Harbourmasters to  learn more about specific beach litter issues in their constituency  and to enrol them in becoming Beach Champions.

Photographs by Alan McCredie

Joan McAlpine MSP joined me at Dunbar in her South Scotland constituency, to examine the particular litter issues concerning the Dunbar Harbour Trust as a multi-use Harbour and to take a sand sample from the regularly cleaned south beach.

#CleanBeachesScotland event. Scottish Parliament 13.12.18
#CleanBeachesScotland event. Scottish Parliament 13.12.18

The exhibition and event  received wonderful cross-party support from MSPs, including Graeme Day convener of the  Environment, Climate & Land Reform Committee with interesting conversations with many members of the committee. Environment spokesperson for the SL Claudia Beamish who attended the event, later commented in a Parliamentary Debate on the 20th December that  it was truly inspiring to see what art can do to support communities and others in their work on the issue”  Roseanna Cunningham responded in the debate that ‘……The work of the organisations that the member flagged up is incredibly important, and it needs to be backed up by Government and global action…….’

Thanks to Mark Ruskell, Environmental spokesperson for the Scottish Green Party, for his time to hear about Littoral Art Project’s findings and to talk through the value of LAP’s citizen science approach. He outlined his commitment to rigorous debate about plastic pollution and the connection to climate change legislation. I look forward to following up his links to Fife environment and arts education organisations.

I will also be contacting the other MSP’s interested in bringing the LAP to their constituencies ( Joan McAlpine in South Scotland, Rachael Hamilton in the Borders, Kate Forbes in Skye, Liam McArthur  and Jamie Halcro Johnston in Orkney ) and to explore the potential of this creative approach to engage their communities in tackling #MarinePlasticPollution  as in Shetland and Ullapool where people  joined me in collecting and examining beach samples.

The results of this interactive arts-cum science approach formed the  photographic evidence shared with MSPs and is available to share with councils and community groups.


Following on from the success of the Holyrood exhibition, the Shetland Amenity Trust and I will be requesting a meeting with Scotland’s Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham. I intend to pass on the LAP research from 120 beaches and the findings of partner organisations, community groups and individuals that took part in the #CleanBeachesScotland event co-hosted by  MCS , with major contributers  KIMO, SAT, FIDRA, SAMS ).    I will be highlighting the extent of plastic pollution originating from the fishing and aquaculture industries, which often makes up to 90% of litter on Northern Scottish beaches and are often under mentioned . 

fishing rope on beach

We welcome the recent Scottish Government’s announcement to legislate against environmentally damaging items:

The positive response of so many MSPs during the #CleanBeachesScotland event and the Scottish Governments environmental announcements give hope to all those working to #BeatPollution in Scotland. These are great achievements that need to be actioned and broadened to include the fishing & aquaculture industry’s plastic pollution as soon as possible, so that Scotland can truly be seen to be leading the way internationally towards achieving a cleaner more sustainable environment.

Scotland’s beaches are beautiful – but increasingly contaminated with Plastic Pollution

Please follow up with your MSP e.g. suggest helping to bring the project to their constituency. If you/your organisation/group has evidence of plastic pollution on a stretch of the Scottish coastline please leave a comment below or email me so I can include it in the #CleanBeachScotland document that I will present to the Environment Minister.

Please follow the progress of the Littoral Art Project by pressing the blue FOLLOW button on the left and follow on twitter @LittoralArt

Help to support this research-art-action project to continue, develop and to reach more communities by making a donation. Press the orange DONATE button on the left. Thankyou

Julia has received Creative Scotland awards supported by The National Lottery for the original Littoral Art Project R&D and NEO Terra exhibition that led to this exhibition. The #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition was self-funded by the artist.


My week in politics

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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.





Follow #CleanBeachesScotland

In a week when I take my Littoral Art Project to the Scottish Parliament  to hopefully draw MSP’s attention to what’s happening along  their own constituency  shoreline; Blue Planet II concludes & David Attenborough gives us a sobering reminder of how plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change is causing untold damage to ocean habitats; the UN’s One Planet Summit brings together local & national leaders to discuss how they can support efforts to fight climate change.
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Turtle washed up on South Queensferry shoreline , Firth of Forth , 2017
The UN Environment Programme warns that :  Unless we take action our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 
The evidence I have collected from over  120  Scottish beaches is equally  shocking and demands actions to stop plastic  entering the sea at this exponential rate. 
 Learn more this week  by following  @LittoralArt twitter feed  #CleanBeachesScotland  #OnePlanet #BluePlanet2 re-tweet and comment on the exhibition – add your own visual evidence Tweet @LittoralArt @ScotParl.    Add a comment on the importance of art as a way of engaging people with the issue.

The #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition of beach samples and artworks made from plastic litter collected from the NW Highlands and Shetland  will be on display for MSPs to see  in the Members Lobby 12th-14th Dec.  The exhibition has been sponsored by Joan McAlpine  MSP . Please tweet  your MSP’s encouraging them to visit  the exhibition /attend the event on Wednesday 13th and ask them to make/tweet a pledge to support  actions to stop plastic entering the sea .

Unfortunately this exhibition  isn’t open to the public – but do get in touch if you know a gallery/venue that would host the show so more people can view the work

Over 50 guests will also see the exhibition and be able to examine samples at the accompanying  #CleanBeachesScotland event  on the 13th Dec.  The event  co-hosted with the Marine Conservation Society will  bring together a host of brilliant people working along the Scottish shores all working on the frontline of  marine plastic pollution an all determined to work together to stop plastic leaking into the sea.

2a53e3ba-ca13-4860-996e-61755b6ecb7b                   I remain optimistic after Mr Attenborough says “Never before have we been so aware of what we are doing to our planet – and never before have we had such power to do something about it,”

Please support Littoral Art project. I have no funding in place to continue this project in 2018 .  The Island Charts (below)  produced as part of the NEO Terra exhibition which map out the Blue Planet message and chart changes  that can reduce plastic leaking into the environment are on sale now.

The Island Charts come in 2 sizes  large Prints 60 x 60cm:£80 ( the pair) plus £5 postage & package. Small prints 30 x 30 : £40 (the pair) £3 P & P,  printed on  smooth heavy 300 gsm matt paper. Place your orders  by email  littoralartproject@btinternt.com



Any small donation to towards future work would be really helpful and gratefully received and keep the momentum for #BeatPollution  #CleanBeachesScotland . Please use the donation button on the left hand side.  Thank You!

The development of the Littoral Art Project was supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

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