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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

 

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

Making….

…. 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.

Searching…….

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….coastal geographical words, understanding of different polymers, appropriate materials, remaining animation shots to use in the making of my  exhibition  installation and for specifically for specialist support:

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a laboratory to carry out a chemical analysis of the different polymers fused together in the plastiglomerate samples that I have collected over the last year. The analysis will form a important part of the part of the installation

 

 

 

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promotional help, such as  contacts in news papers, journals, on line sites,  who would be intersted in telling the marine plastic issue from a new explorative visual angle using the Littoral Art Project story and exhibition

 

 

 

Any suggestions/comments/networking help for the exhibition would be much appreciated.         A press release with short summary of the project, exhibition information and schedule  can be found and copied from the Press Release page. Please forward this to any supportive organisations, journalists and colleagues/friends asking for editorial coverage/ help with promoting the exhibition. Neo-Terra: a burning marine issue  at Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum & Archive, Lerwick. Oct 8th-Nov 12th . Many thanks.


Footnote:  ‘inappropriate  resting place’ taken along the Forth estuary,  while completing the photogrphic illustrations for my Guide to Beach Litter.resting place

 

 

Shetland Notes 6: Birds

Tonight I take my leave of the Shetland Isles with Black Guillemot’s  diving in Garthspool harbour. Stepping onto the deck of the ferry I am able begin to unravel what I have learnt from my extraordinary Shetland expedition.Almost 8 weeks criss-crossing the Isles, examining beaches, collecting Plastiglomerate, filming  animation footage and leading workshops with pupils with 14 schools. On this journey my constant yet ever changing companions have been the wonderful bird life that fills the skies and extensive coastline.

             Drawings above of a Common Gull, Raven and Skua (Bronxie) by Urafirth School Pupils

As the ferry swiftly leaves the dock and makes its passage through the Bressay Sound Arctic Terns dart across the prow of the boat and Fulmars fly down skimming  the seas surface dipping to pick up food.

IMG_1882Steaming down the east coast of the isles I focus hard on the shoreline through the mist trying to recognise some of the beaches I have collected Plastiglomerates from and lead litter investigations on with pupils from 14 schools over the last 7  weeks. The first beaches I spot are effectively the small town beaches (less thean 50m long)  there are many of them tucked in between buildings with a  small tidal range.

We soon pass by the Voxter beaches of stone and shingle then Hoswick  beach were we examined the beaches with local Sandwick School pupils, collected micro-plastics from the beach and considered the disturbing images (below) taken by a scientist Jan Andries van Franeker who carried out an autopsy on a Fulmar found locally on Shetlands south mainland.

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The dead Fulmar had over 9oo polystyrene beads plus small pieces of plastic and nurdles. Fulmars  feed on the surface of the sea and understandably mistake the polystyrene and plastic pellets/pieces for fish eggs. The result of eating so many piece of plastic is starvation as the bird thinks its full. Fulmars also feed the plastic to the chicks. The extreme dangers of micro plastics to bird life was central to our Close Examination workshops and was carefully explained by my workshop colleague Jane Outram the environmental officer of the Shetland Amentity & Guide at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse (bird observatory). Jane has been a great bird knowledge and has been an invaluable project colleague  who has helped me to facilitate the workshops and help me  differentiate  the numerous type of  waders, gulls and .

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We have both been delighted and impressed by the children’s knowledge of birds while delivering the educational workshops. The Urafirth Primary Schools beautiful  illustrations used here are taken from the schools notice board which names the birds seen around their school and points out the dangers that face specific birds  like the Shag below,  from beach and marine plastic litter.

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Shetlanders are rightly proud of the vast aray and number  of bird and  wildlife that lives and visits the islands throughout the year. I have delighted in being able to witness this at close hand  as I criss-crossed the islands visiting beaches and schools. I have caught sight of otters cruising along the Grathspool harbour wall (Lerwick) at sunset and Red-throated Divers diving in the afternoon sunlight on Voes out west.

As MV Hrossey ploughs through the North Sea I try in vain to photograph a lone Gannet gliding  fast across the wake of the ship which is broken up by the fresh north easterly.

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As we pass by  Sumbrugh Head cloaked in cloud after  weeks of continual sunlight. I reflect on the fascinating natural beauty of Shetland and the dangers that wildlife and Birds are facing here and around the world given the increasing volume of plastics in the oceans and on the beaches.

Birdlife: (top) melted plastic rope,  (LHS) Guillemot egg on Yell,  (RHS) waders eggs increasingly exposed as nests change from muted brown to brightly  coloured

With such images in mind  I leave with an even greater determination to make work that envisages this environmental problem  in new and dramatic ways and  to stimulate  discussion and the need to act /change behaviours. I look forward to returning in September to install my work at Da Gadderie  Shetland Museum and Archives

Thanks to Creative Scotland for funding towards my animation and exhibition development work and thanks to Awards for All  and Zero Waste Scotland for funding for the educational workshops and to North Link Ferries  for help towards my travel.

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