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



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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#CleanBeachesScotland Press Release

POST card HOLYROOD front image for MSP's

Event: 13th December 2017 The Scottish Parliament David Livingston Room

Julia Barton, in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, will be hosting a #CleanBeachesScotland event at Holyrood to celebrate new and successful ways of tackling marine litter in Scotland and the next steps Scotland needs to take.

This collaborative Sci-Art event is open to MSPs, researchers and invited guests. The #CleanBeachesScotland Exhibition will be on show along with key information displays from:

  • SAMS – Scottish Association for Marine Science
  • SAT – Shetland Amenity Trust
  • FIDRA – Environmental Charity based in East Lothian
  • KIMO – Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation
  • MCS – Marine Conservation Society

Audience members include a wide range of experts – marine biologists, community engagement groups, harbour masters, waste management consultants, ecologists and environmental group representatives from across Scotland, who will be on hand to discuss the issues and explore how we can achieve #CleanBeachesScotland.

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland for the Marine Conservation Society has said: ‘Public awareness and media profile of our seas and the threats they face has never been higher. This exciting and timely event will shed light on the dire impacts of marine litter on our beaches and marine wildlife, but will also celebrate some of the ways we’re tackling this problem, and galvanise support for the many actions still needed to clean up our seas.

Exhibition: 12th-14th December 2017 The Scottish Parliament Member’s Lobby.

Artist Julia Barton has been creatively investigating beach litter with coastal communities, for over 4 years. Thousands of hours spent on beaches has given her an utterly unique insight into the way plastic has become part of our environment, and this exhibition charts her extraordinary process of discovery. Julia’s novel way of widely engaging communities has recently been acknowledged with a 2017 Shetland Environmental Award for her Littoral Art Project work in the isles. It also prompted an invitation to Holyrood to inform MSPs of her observations at the shoreline from the micro to the macro point of view.

Julia will be presenting her Littoral Art Project exhibition to MSP’s for the first time in Holyrood. The #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition will showcase evidence collected from 120 Scottish beaches, highlighting just how much plastics have become part of the environment and the cost this represents to our society. An installation of collected plastics, based on Julia’s recent NEO Terra exhibition shown in both Shetland and the Highlands (link to review), will also inform the event.

Julia and her colleague Sita Goudie from the Shetland Amenity Trust’s Dunna Chuck Bruck Campaign will be sharing their knowledge of what works at a community level, as well as successful projects and initiatives for #CleanBeachesScotland. They will be asking MSPs to pledge action and support to reduce, recover and recycle waste within our economy rather than allow it to leach into the marine environment.

Next year Julia intends to create giant #LitterCUBES to display in harbours and streets, thereby confronting people with the volume of litter we are facing and the monetary loss to the economy that our plastic pollution represents.  If anyone would like to know more about this, please contact Julia:

Julia has received Creative Scotland awards supported by The National Lottery for the original Littoral Art Project R&D and NEO Terra exhibition  CS logo 1 copy

Notes to Editors:

ORGANISATIONS/PRESS : If you would like to join us for the #CleanBeachesScotland Event  on 13th December please get in touch ASAP: Julia Barton: 07977997605;

NOTE: Due to security restrictions, you must confirm the name of the person(s) attending the event, by 1st December, to ensure they are on the guest list

Please note, due to security reasons, the exhibition is in an area only open to members.  However, the exhibition will be moved to the David Livingston room for the event, giving press and invited guests the chance to see it.

For more information of the artist’s work visit:

Current events and wider lobbying can be followed @LittoralArt

Comments from Julia’s recent exhibitions can be viewed at:

Further information on the Marine Conservation Society at:

Further information on the Shetland Amenity Trust:

Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page:




Zooming in on plastic strapping threaded together to form #LitterCUBE                                 J Barton

My ongoing musings on our entanglement with plastic pollution and its interconnectedness  with the sustainability of our environment both here in Scotland and globally was greatly aided by visitng the  most recent An Talla Solais exhibition Murmur an exhibition of 5 women artists  reflecting on Climate Change .

Both the exhibition and a gallery talk by  John McIntyre (scientist) illustrated  the linkage between our actions and changes in world ecology.  John used this diagram called a  ‘Muir Web‘ drawn by Landscape ecologist  Chris Harrison as a visualization of habitat relationships and ecological associations of the Manhattan island, circa 1609.

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John Muir:  “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.”

Our inter-connectedness and responsibility to the environment, our species and each other was further wonderfully delivered that evening in a film of the American  philosopher/artist Donna Haraway entitled ‘Story Telling for Earthly Survival’  by film-maker Fabrizio Terranova.  Donna animatedly tells  anecdotes of her dogs prowess at complex agility courses, adding another layer to her own visual analogy of  our ecological and social mesh being as a ‘Cats Cradle’

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As I begin to select elements of the NEO Terra exhibition to take to Holyrood  in December to share with MSP’s and Ministers I am convinced of the importance of taking the #LitterCUBES particularly this one made from strapping  to help with imagining the depth and complexity of the issue that we are all enmeshed in.

COPcube2 - J BartonMy intention is to engage as many people as possible in the seeing of  the ecological web/mesh we hold in our hands.  To do this I am working up an idea to tour the       #LitterCUBES ( in much bigger forms) to harbours and festivals around the coast.

Please leave any suggestions  below of possible locations,  where you can see this working and ways to help raise funding to make this happen .  Thank you


Launch of Terra Nova

Launch of Terra Nova

As the exhibition closes tonight, I have been looking through the visitors book and am delighted and humbled at all the thanks and thoughtfull comments I have received. Please take a look here  they are themselves inspiring to seek out new places to take the exhibition too. Any ideas re galleries/museums/docksides to aim for and any funding sources would be much appreciated.

img116 (3)This great comment about the exhibition animation Terra Nova convinced me that the animation should go live here and on vimeo.  The film tells one part of my investigative journey with plastic pollution – how the burning of litter on beaches forms rock-like lumps of plastic, now named ‘Plastiglomerate’ .

Animation notes: low budget – low tech film, idea developed in Coigach,  storyboarded at An Talla Solais studios, models were made at different scales, in many locations, the delicate casting of litter materials in wax (for the final scene) were cast at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop  and the film was shot and edited in Shetland  filmaker JJ Jamieson. His enthusiasm was energising throughout the shoot and his inventivness in sourcing, creating and over-laying  special effects and sound completed the film beautifully.

It was fantastic to work with JJ Jamieson, the animation was shot both in his garage studio, back yard, on the banks of a nearby stream and editing studio. More information about the making of the animation can be found on my Vimeo site .