HOPE 2017

I am very happy to be back based in Ullapool and to begin collecting beach samples from along the  Wester Ross coastline..rhue-beach-jan-17 Rhue Beach – todays collection location

Over the next month I will be collecting  samples ffrom 60 beaches for examination in the NEO Terra  exhibition taking place at An Talla Solais‘s Caledonian Gallery May 13th -June 18th.   I intend involving as many people as possible in the collection and will be encouraging discussions as to how to build  HOPE for the future. Shared ideas will be added to those collected and sketched out from Shetland residents on HOPE isle  below…..  hope-isle-3_li Please add your own ideas  into the comments box below of ‘how we can stop plastic leaking into the environment and  improve environmental sustainability’ I will add them  to the isle of HOPE.  My own HOPE is based  on the support and feedback I have received to the  Littoral Art Projects 2016 ‘s achievements recorded below :

         Littoral Art Project LEGEND 2016

                               Featured Image -- 3554  nt-beach-samples-cu nt-beach-sample-results                 Exhibition: NEO Terra, Shetland Museum      Oct-Nov

                     img_3940 commando-lands terra-nova-end-statement                        Animation: Terra NOVA,  Shetland Museum     Oct-Nov

               scalloway-evidence-bags  magnifying-voxter  whalsay-micro-plastics                                 Education Workshops: across Shetland            May-June

                             COPcube2  cairn  img_0912                                            Presentation: Edinburgh Humanities Network – Deep Time    April

                           29th MArch IM collecting PR's plastic rock reveal copy  PR's section 2                   Expedition: to Isle Martin        March

                 Studio 4 Studio 4 TS Studio 4 postit                               Residency: at An Talla Solais developing animation storyboard

             CS logo 1 copy                                    Awarded  Creative Scotland -Open Project Funding towards LAP                                         exhibition in  Shetland and Ullapool 2016-17

NEO Terra: findings

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.

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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.


…. the process of making work for the exhibition has steadily been taking place over the last month in a series of places across the country.

Drawing and configuring island plans for my archipelago map and filming micro-plastics  at Wasps Studios in Edinburgh

Collecting & photographing litter items on the Firth of Forth beaches. The Guide to Beach Litter will be launched at an interactive educational event during the exhibition.

Modelling and photographing my toy commando in Borders 128 changes and shots were made to produce a short stop frame sequence for the exhibition animation.

Moldmaking and casting wax replicas of beach litter and the toy commando in the well equipped mixed media workshop at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

Canvas dying experiments took place this week with friends at An Talla Solais in Ullapool. Scaling up the dying process revealed  difficulties in maintaining the consistent colour I want to achieve, an Ordanance Survey sea blue. Taking this liitation on board the canvas/map will now be made in a time honoured reliable way using paint

The final making stage  of this exhibition work will begin tomorrow when I arrive back in Shetland, where I will be delighted to take up my place as Artist in Residence at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse.

Post written while I wait to board the MVHrossey  from Orkney. Thanks to North Link Ferries support towards my passage.  The show opens on 8th October at Da Gadderie Lerwick Museum and Archives and runs until 12th November.


2016 post 2My itinerary for 2016-17 is taking shape, I hope you can join me along the way on this exciting journey on the beaches, in the galleries or on line…..

March- April : West Coast

o Finalising  artwork for the ‘Guide to Beach Litter’

o Location filming on Isle Martin (28th-4th April)

o Collecting & classifying materials

April – June : Shetland 2016 post 1

o Delivering educational workshops

o Animation filming & editing

o Collecting & classifying materials

o May 5th World Environment Day Event

o Exhibition preparation for Shetland Museum


2016 post 5Sept -October:Shetland

o  Residency at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse

o Construction of interactive Pod

o Printing limited edition maps

o Install the exhibition

o Show opens at Da Gadderie  Shetland Museum – 8th Oct

o Show continues until 12th Nov

                                  2016 2017 post

2017: Ullapool  

o Production of 2nd Exhibition Map

o Exhibition preparation in Ullapool

o May 5th World Environment Day Event

o Summer Exhibition at An Talla Solais Gallery (information to follow)

o Project /exhibition evaluation and plans

I will be updating this outline itinerary over the coming months and  I will be posting an Exhibition Press Release on the 1st March which will be down loadable. I am looking to build media interest in the exhibition  over the coming months and would much appreciate and suggestions of contacts in the environmental and arts press and beyond.  Please leave a comment below or send a message  littoralartproject@btinternet.com or via @LittoralArt

Many thanks to my collaborators JJ Jamieson and Dr Phillip Cowie , partners Shetland Amenity Trust, An Talla Solais, Isle Martin TrustShetland Museum and to supporters Creative Scotland, Sumburgh Head, Shetland Arts  and Crowd Funding Sponsors  for making this exhibition programme possible

CS logo 1 copy

Studio 4

Spending much longed for time – concentrating on growing ideas for my Littoral Art Project exhibition in 2016 & 17. To do this I have become a happy inmate of studio 4 at An Talla Solias  in Ullapool. My week’s residency has so far focused on beginning to story-boarding  my animation idea which will be an integral piece of my exhibition . Its  exciting to be venturing into an new medium which has intrigued and inspired me over the years.

Studio 4 Studio 4 TS

With over arching thoughts writ large to keep me on track  post-it notes multiplied daily and my narrative has begun to develop, re-positioning the notes aiding rethinking twists and turns of the plot.

Studio 4 board

Gradually ideas are being sketched out across the studio wall  to try and envisage the 2 min film I’m aiming for. Thankfully I have  many friends and colleagues here in Ullapool well versed in my journey and happy to listen to my latest sequence of thoughts.  I also wonderfully have film and documentary maker Sara Nason to call on for mentoring advice , who reminds me of the importance of keeping emotion in the mix.

Studio 4 postit Studio 4 CU post its Studio 4 storyboard Studio 4 story bosard 3

My aim is for sound to be central to the animation though crucially without dialogue, with this in mind I am about to re check my sound notes  on each page before copying and posting to my film collaborator JJ Jaimieson in Shetland for his comments and input.    My plan is to shoot the film on both Isle Martin (Summer Isle) here in Ross-shire and on Shetland in the spring.         JJ Jaimieson will be generating the sound track and editing, this will take  place at the Mareel, Shetland Arts Centre next summer. Shetland Arts have sponsored the studio and editing time for the film.     Thank You.

Studio 4 strapping 2 studio4 strapping

Before leaving  my wonderful  ATS studio and heading back to Edinburgh I will be sorting through a bag of beach litter carefully selected to make a piece of work  which connects this coastal WASTE issue to the bigger Climate Change issue. I will be showing the work here on the blog and on TWITTER #artsgogreen as part of the ArtCOP Scotland events  responding to  the important climate change negotiation (30 Nov-12 Dec). Other arts responses can be found at  Cape Farewell with UN updated over view at COP21

Scotlands Climate March

Saturday 28th November 2015, gather at 12 noon on The Meadows, Edinburgh



Sharing ideas – Ragged University Talk

On Thursday evening I embraced  the  ethos of the Ragged University’s talks: ‘to share ideas you are passionate about and to learn something new’ and I enjoyed illustrating my ‘News from the Littoral Zone’ at the Counting House in Edinburgh. The evening also included a mind stretching talk by  Susan Brown from Manchester University on Sustainable Education and allowed the audience and myself to join in with the current thinking on educational approaches to ecologically aware education

The audience was wonderfully  attentive and I was happy to illustrate my research process of exploring the littoral Zones on the NW coast of Scotland  through images taken over the past 2 years  that I have  shared in this blog.  These included my initial shocking strand-line walks, learning survey methods, related hazards and the longevity of respective materials found, plus my trials to creatively share my findings with local community members. Take a look back through the posts.

I began by passing around  evidence bags  of litter items collected over the past two years from 18 beaches and exhibited during my residency at An Talla Solais, Ullapool’s Arts Centre during my residency in 2013 and then shown as part of my installation at Ullapool Museum in 2014.

evidence bags 1

I then shared my thoughts on how I am now honing down my research  findings to be able to focus on specific findings that are the most poignant to me and that inspire me to make strong vital imagery.  Item wise I am now looking in more depth at 3 of the less easily seen litter items found.

Gun Wads: plastic wadding to keep the ammunition in place   either in a gun-barrel or in a paper or metal shell.


180 plastic wads were collected last autumn on beaches  around Reiff on the Coigach peninsula by committed local beach cleaners concerned  by the fact that these  ‘wads’ have been found to significantly contribute to the death of porpoises, dolphins and turtles.Which is understandable when you view the gun wads floating in the sea as they are so similar to squid. Ecowad alternatives are available.

gun cartridges our contribrition to the ocean conveyor belt

Last week on Shetland I witnessed plastic gun wads on every beach I visited, as there is no known shooting activity on the islands, the Shetland Amenity Trust ‘Dunna Chuck Bruck’ team that I was working with thought it probable that they originated from the from the same place that the lobster tags washed up traced back to Canada’s east coast.   If we follow the conveyor belt of the ocean currents  round it is therefore likely that the  gun wads dropped on Scotland’s NW coast will be ending up on along the eastern Seaboard of America at some point.

Micro-fibres: degrading particles of plastic litter  e.g. rope, bags sacks, cord


Even on the cleanest looking beaches, where no obvious  litter items are seen,  I have  found micro-fibres laced within sand grains or caught up in/on the seaweed. On mass the fibres are easily visible but when not visible they can be seen easily amongst collected sand grains or seaweed with a hand lens or USB magnifier.   Marine Biologist Dr Phillip Cowie at Millport Field Study Centre explained filter feeding organisms  such as Prawns, flat fish and even sand hoppers are being recorded with such fibres in their guts.

Plastic rocks: melted plastic waste, formed by burning plastic litter on the beaches


Plastic rocks are perhaps one of the hardest litter items to ‘see’  as the process of burning so many different coloured plastic materials together, often results in  range of grey muted tones which blend in easily with the beach pebbles . I have recorded most of these ‘rocks’ in the mid zones of the beach as they are one of the densest of the plastic items and are less prone to being wind blown.

As I explained in my last post  the melted plastic rock  has now been named  ‘plastiglomerate’ by a Canadian research team and their research findings have led them to argue that the proliferation of the plastic rocks around the world can be seen as a marker horizon of human pollution.

Plastic Rock

I explained that I felt that this broad project knowledge was vital to gain before I could begin to envisage the series of  visual and performance artworks that I am now planning. I am presently working with Shetland Amenity Trust and Highland Arts organisations to raise funding to make the Littoral Art Exhibition possible in the coming year.  I intend to make installations and related stop frame animations focusing/using plastigomerate’s and the micro-fibres that I find practically on every beach I investigate.

Many thanks to Alex Dunedin who organises the Ragged University Talks, and to Susan Brown who through her fascinating talk on Sustainable Education has enabled to me see how my practice fits well in the Sustainable Education models currently being discussed and developed.