Close Examination

Close Examination

identifying plastic particles

Close Examination ULLAPOOL FERRY TERMINAL Fri 23 March 7.30 pm 

An investigative performance by S3 Ullapool High School pupils in collaboration with artist Julia Barton as part of the Littoral Art Project, telling the research journey that we have undertaken along Ullapool Harbour shoreline over the last few years.

Opens at 7.30pm for viewing the display of the Littoral Art Project findings recently exhibited at the Scottish Parliament. Plus updates on actions being taken to Beat Plastic Pollution by the Harbour’s Fishing for Litter Scheme and Ullapool Primary School’s ‘No Plastic Straw Campaign’. Performance starts 8pm – lasting approximately 30 mins

All welcome

 

 

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.

5 NW SAND SAMPLEs panel

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.

MAIN HOLYROOD BEACH IMAGE smallest pic
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.

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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

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?’

southampton-polymer-mix

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.

Making….

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.

Shetland Notes 4: Learning

A big aim of mine is to inspire young people to creatively tackle the massive environmental issue of plastic pollution in our marine and coastal environments.

Pupils in Shetland each year take part in the great Da Voar Redd Up spring litter pick and so know only too well the size of the problem and how much effort it takes to collect and carry hundreds of bags of litter from remote beaches.  Last week 70 Scalloway primary pupils cleaned Burick Beach a mile west of the school they collected 363 bags of bruck (rubbish) off the beach approximately 100m long.

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Jane Outram (environmental officer for the Shetland Amenity Trust) & myself have now begun to deliver three educational workshops across Shetland. Each workshop begins with an observational session on a beach near to the school. The outside learning element of the day long workshops fitting well with many of the schools, as writ on the wall at Nesting Primary School

learning words (2)

We are criss-crossing the isles to deliver 3 different workshops devised for different ages across the Primary and Higher School years with the aim of looking at how we can tackle the litter before it arrives on our beaches, so Shetland’s  children’s children won’t have to collect hundreds of bags of rubbish each year.

school workshop locations (2)

We have had an amazing response over 14 schools will be taking part, including the outer isles. Pupils taking part will also complete a questionnaire developed and written by researchers Lynette Robertson, Agnes Patuano and Reyhaneh Mozaffar so we can assess the benefit of our creative approach to investigating  beach litter and how we can help to reduce plastics in the environment. So far we have delivered a training session to members of Shetland Environmental Education Partnerships (ShEEP) an environmental project which will continue to help schools deliver the workshops on in future years.

LAP Edu Pack 2   LAP Edu Pack 3

Our first ‘Close Examination’ into the micro plastics of our beaches was carried out by lower high pupils of Aith School, who after taking a selection of particle samples from their local beach, used simple separation techniques to discover the variety of forms that plastic particles take. Using electronic magnification identification of the types and possible sources of the particles was discussed.

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Using projected images of  drawings of sand hoppers, the smallest organisms known to ingestion micro fibres, we began to experiment with ways of visually making the links between the ingestion of  micro plastics by marine organisms, the related hazards particularly to birds and mammals. The pupils and biology and art teachers now plan to explore this connection further through graphics.  I look forward to seeing the work!

Year 7 pupils enthusiastically took up the roles of a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team, on the western end of Burick Beach to collect evidence to carry out a ‘Return to Sender’ workshop. Back in the art room our team eagerly and thoroughlyscrutinised their evidence to build up a detailed product profile.

DSCF9913   DSCF9923   DSCF9919 evidence board

Each Crime Scene Investigation team set about interrogating the litter items to learnas much as possible about the type of material it was made from,who manufacturered the product, the retailer involved, plus  recycling symbols and anti-littering information etc.

IMG_1598

With this information pupils are now composing highly visual letters, FaceBook messages and Tweets to be sent shortly to manufacturers/retailers to ask for their help in reducing packaging, encouraging recycling and investing in  research into biodegradable products to help them keep their beach free of their products. Follow the blog to see their work and manufacturers responses

A cross age group of Outer Isle School pupils from Foula, Fetlar, the Skerries and Fair Isle visiting mainland Shetland searched for ‘Future Fossils’ amongst the Voxter shoreline stones. The children took part in 2 full sessions collecting and examining rock samples,  and then excitedly broke open the fossil pebbles to reveal a variety of common objects found on shorelines all around Shetland.

observation drawing rocks & FF Voxter magnifying  Voxter timeline Voxter

Later they took time to carefully work out how long litter items such as plastic bottle tops, gun wads, balloons and ropes might last into the future and considered this in context of the time line of the world, Shetlands geology and their own existence having put their names and birth dates onto the line.  A powerful days learning outside, together. I look forward to meeting all of these children in the interactive laboratory that I am designing for the exhibition at Da Gadderie.

Special interactive school event at the museum on Thursday 27th October

Many thanks to Awards for All , Zero Waste Scotland and North Link Ferries for enabling this educational part of the project to  be devised and facilitated .