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.
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.
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.
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 Cunninghamresponded 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 .
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.
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.
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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.
Today artist’s working across the Arctic are coming together to share their work at the 2017 RELATE NORTH Symposium at the University of Lapland, Rovaniem – while I am sadly unable to be there a piece of my work from my NEO Terra exhibition will be on exhibit alongside those of artists working in Finland, Canada, Scotland, Alaska, Russia, Somi Republic, Norway and Sweden.
The piece I have sent is one of my #LitterCUBES, made from plastic particles collected from along the strandlines of Shetlands beaches during my residency there in 2016.
#LitterCUBE 2016 – is a compressed assemblage of mixed polymers Polyethylene terephthalate [PE-PET -PETE] Compressed assemblage 5 x 5 x 5 cm.
52 of the 60 beach sand/substrate samples I collected from Shetland contained plastic particles . Many of the strandlines were thick with plastic fibres and particles. In extreme instances the fibres & particles mound up metres deep – the link to their source ropes/nets/cord of the commercial fishing industry is plain to see.
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The consequences of such pollution are thankfully increasingly being monitored by scientists like Obbard. And marine biologists like Winnie Courtene-Jones who are researching and documenting the effects of micro-plastics on invertebrates in the Deep Sea. Plastic has been ingested by marine organisms as small as Sand-hoppers and Algae at the bottom of the food chain . The consequences of this pollution is ironically massive for the fishing industry . Below are a few of the creative community workshop images envisaging the issue of plastic fibres taken on during my project.
My visual essay of my work in Shetland is being published by the University of Lapland Press this week and will shortly be available on-line.
Shetland’s Littoral Zones: An art-science project revealing the legacies of plastic pollution on beaches in the north of Scotland.consequences of plastic leaking into Northern ecosystems.
2017 Election: VOTE #CleanSeas is up and running here on-line or at the NEO Terra exhibition @AnTallaSolais from 10am Argyle St, Ullapool
Many thanks for taking time to register your VOTE – all feedback about your experience of this and/or other @LittoralArt events you have taken part in, will be much appreciated and useful in arguing the case for support of public engagement Art Events/Exhibitions .
Comments can be left at the end of the Poll in the ‘Other’ box or by clicking on the comment button below.
If you would like to download an Isle of CHANGE chart in celebration of World Oceans Day 2017 please click Isle of CHANGE
Please share the link and use the image to make a difference with thanks to Creative Scotland
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.
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 first sighting of the exhibition NEO Terra, an archipelago of islands was seen on Saturday at Da Gadderie, Lerwick, by an inquisitive, thoughtful and appreciative audience. These first shots fleetingly record a walk through the exhibition, around the central floor installation a 10 metre map with plastiglomerate archipelago within the Polymer Sea. Exiting this space the Terra Nova animation made with Shetland filmmaker JJ Jamieson illuminates the origin and making of the islands/the plastiglomerates.
Turning left visitors enter an interactive space where plastiglomerates with their place of discovery can be examined. 60 beach samples from around the islands are arranged side by side , a selection of which with commonly found microplastics can be magnified and projected. Notes can be left of observations. Opposite is a photo documentation of education workshops carried out in schools this spring.
Five cubes constructed out of plastic items found on beaches and a simply drawn timeline notating how long different items/materials might last on beaches completes the exhibition.
The exhibition runs until the 12th of November at Shetland Museum & Archives and is open very day 10-4pm. I will be present in the gallery on many days during the exhibition naming coastal features and analysing the samples collected. I look forward to meeting visitors particularly on Friday afternoons between 2-4pm
Many thanks: to JJ Jamieson for his creative collaboration and technical dexterity in making the animation. Thanks to John Hunter Shetland Museum & Archives curator for going along with plans for re-configuring the gallery, physical help in constructing the walls and keeping us smiling while installing and to Davy Cooper from the Shetland Amenity Trust for lending us equipment and calm we can fix it support.
Installation was only possible with the help of artist/photographer Ailsa, art students Alice and Kirsty, Jane from Sumburgh Head, and Sita Goudie and Alice from the Trust.
Thanks to Jean Urquhart for making the connection between my work on the NW coast and the work of Sita Goudie running the Shetland Amenity Trusts Environmental Improvement work who in turn enabled the Littoral Art Project in Shetland to happen.
Plus all my friends and supporters on the mainland and world wide thank you !
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.