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

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.


#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.

muir web jpg

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’

images     images (2)  images (3)

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




Join in celebrating WORLD OCEANS DAY on Thursday June 8th in Ullapool casting votes for #CleanSeas. Events happening across the world and on line.

DBfUOVRXsAIi2Jt.jpg large World Oceans Day is a designated UN day to celebrate & honour the world’s oceans.

“Urgent action on a global scale is needed to alleviate the world’s oceans from the many pressures they face, and to protect them from future dangers that may tip them beyond the limits of their carrying capacity. ” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The Day provides an opportunity to get directly involved in protecting our future, through a new mindset and personal and community action and involvement.   

My response is to take to the shores of Loch Broom ( Ullapool harbour) where I will be leading a Guided Guide walk sharing information from the Guide to Beach Litter and highlighting the importance of healthy Oceans discussing the many initiatives here and around the world to protect the oceans.X poster 1 (2)_LI

As its polling day here in the UK, participants will be invited to join me at An Talla Solais Gallery, to share experiences and ideas of how to bring about change and to cast your votes for a variety of approaches to reduce plastic pollution in the World’s Oceans and specifically in Scotland.

Ullapool Event:  – meet by the pier on West Shore 11am or 5.30pm, followed at the gallery at  12 noon & 6.15pm  An Talla Solais Gallery, West Arglye St, Ullapool

Poster extract (2)In return voters will receive a copy of the  ‘Isle of CHANGE’ map from the  NEO Terra exhibition presently showing at An Talla Solais until the 18th June

A PDF copy of the map will also be available to download on World Ocean Day from here. Please leave a comment  below and join in the debate .

Find out more about the actions being taken in the UK and around the World.       Visit

View the  Ullapool World Oceans Day event on Twitter follow @LittoralArt