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

Photo shoot

Over the last few days I have sorted through hundred’s of litter items collected across the littoral zones  of  over 20 beaches  on the west coast and more recently Shetland to select 40 items identified  with Dr Cowie  two weeks ago for possible inclusion in the Guide to Beach Litter.

trays litter items

My aim is to select the ‘best’ samples that are representational of what might be found on the beach.

set up seaweed cropped
So far 20 items have been photographed  each item being  shot multiple times on a selection of settings to ensure I achieve the best image possible. The items will be  digitally ‘cut out’ and positioned on the Guide layout . My aim is that the Guide should echo the  natural history field guides where the species are collaged together on each page.

positioning items processing images

But before the processing can begin there are another 20 items to choose, group together, position, reposition and photograph.


I estimate that the ‘Guide to Beach Litter’ will cost £3,000 to produce. £1,100 has been pledged  which will cover the photographing , processing and layout of the work . I still need to raise  £1,900 to  cover the printing  – ideas of how to raise this would be much appreciated.   Many thanks.

Donations to the project can be made through Paypal  check out how to do this on the Sponsorship page.

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.



North West Strand-lines

This week I returned to the NW coast to take a look at the littoral zones (the areas of beach between the low and high tide marks) which I have come to know well over the past 18months researching this project .
After a winter of repeated storms I had braced myself before walking out to a selection of remote beaches – Dun Canna, Rhue and Reiff . After 18 months researching into beach and marine litter I consider myself toughened to the issue but looking along the strandline of twisted rolls of seaweed I felt deeply disturbed and upset as I imagined myself walking into a Dali like landscape with bright blue and orange plastic sheeting draped over plastic piping and the giant knots of twisted ropes, buoys and domestic objects punctuating the strandline.

Dun Canna knot
The knots of litter brought in by the wild weather and exceptional spring tides are bringing the issue clearly into view and are spurring me on to search out funding and to record my next Crowd Funding Appeal to take my project forward over the next two years. I am planning to produce an exhibition of work inspired by my research that will tour to five locations around Scotland over the next two years.
My intention is to raise £3,000 over April to produce a ‘Guide to beach litter’ to accompany the show. Copies of the guide and beach litter key rings will be offered as rewards. If you have any ideas where and how I can promote the Littoral Art Exhibition appeal please do get in touch.

Littoral presentation

This short compilation of project images is a distilled version of the project presentation I gave to participants, residents and pupils at  Ullapool Museum in October to celebrate the end of both my research in Ross-shire and  ‘Future Fossil Collection’ installation shown at the museum throughout the summer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 My sights are now set on producing a collection of  visual artworks based on my research findings  which  will explore and illuminate the magnitude and nature of litter on our beaches and in the marine environment.

The multi-media artworks will form the basis of an exhibition which will tour 5 venues in coastal locations around Scotland over the next two years.   The exhibition will expand incrementally with specific pieces created with participatory contributions and will include a series of presentations and events that will take place both inside gallery locations and outside on the beaches, ice towers, quaysides. In addition my work in Shetland will include a sci-art educational program .

The project will culminate in a final exhibition in Edinburgh with related performance event on the Firth of Forth on World Environment Day 2017.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To  enable my ambitious plans to take shape I will soon be launching a Crowd Funding appeal and directly writing to well known people who speak out and support environmental causes. If you can think of anyone I could try approaching please leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

2014 A Year in the littoral zone

Having completed a year’s research monitoring beach litter on the west coast of Scotland, I have selected twelve images that I feel summarise my findings along the west coast ‘littoral zone’ . The beaches I have surveyed are Grid- referenced and are located between Loch Broom (NH 133 939) in the south and Loch Inver (NC 094 973) in the north.

Ullapool E beach gun copy

Toy Gun Plastic   Ullapool
A poignant find that lay washed up along the upper shore of the north east beach of Ullapool. I have found toys on every beach I have surveyed.

Rhue polystyrene copy

Polystyrene   Rhue point
A common sight on each of the beaches I have monitored. Often large blocks, boxes or takeaway cups break into individual particles that float and litter the rock pools when broken against rocks. They are subsequently ingested by birds mistaking them for food.

IM plastic bottles copy

Bottles Plastic   Isle Martin
Found on every beach. Along the Back Beach (Camas a Bhuailidh) on Isle Martin the nearest of the Summer Isles in the mouth of Loch Broom, I recovered over 100 bottles which had contained drinks, cleaning fluids, oils etc. All the bottles towed from Isle Martin on World Environment Day were recycled.

IMartin melted plastic copy

Melted Plastic   Isle Martin
Hard to see rock-like forms which blend into the cobbles of the Ross-shire beaches. These predominantly grey plastic forms are the result of plastic rubbish that has been burnt on ships/trawlers or on the beach.

Dun Canna strandline mix copy

Strandline mix Plastic   Dun Canna
The strandline of this west-facing beach on Loch Kinnaird is one of the worst I have witnessed . Broken fragments of every type of litter is mixed into the seaweed.

Badentarebt prawn box copy
Prawn boxes   Badentarbet
Unsurprisingly, in a significant prawn fishing area, broken corrugated plastic prawn boxes are common place on every beach survey .

Badentarbet rope copy

Rope, cord, line and nets   Badentarbet
The highest percentage of litter that I have recorded has been made up of commercial fishing related materials such as ropes and cord: none of these at present can be recycled in the Highlands.

Altandu measuring cylinder
Fibres Plastic   Altandu
Close between the cobbles, sand grains or within the seaweed are millions of plastic fibres from deteriorating rope, bags, boxes which could be ingested by birds, fish and sand hoppers. I collected 1/2 litre of fibres  from 1m of  seaweed along   (Camas an Fheidh)

Altandu toy soldier copy

Soldier Plastic   Altandu
I found this soldier amongst one of the most severely littered beaches in the area. I intend to enlist him in my Littoral Art Campaign in the coming year

Rief loch gun catridge copy

Gun cartridges   Loch of Reiff
It was explained to me by two local beach watchers & cleaners in the Reiff area that the opaque splayed tubes that are numerous along beaches in this area are the inner sleeves of gun cartridges. In the water they are often perceived as squid by turtles and porpoise and eaten.

reiff loch cabling copy

Plastic tubing   Loch of Rieff
Evidence of large scale commercial dumping like this mass of plastic tubing is evident on the beaches close to commercial fishing areas. The scale of it takes your breath away

lochinver takeaway spoon copy

Food containers & implements   Loch Inver
On a much smaller scale but equally insidious is the common takeaway litter stuffed/trapped between the strandline rocks of harbour walls

I intend during 2015 – 16 to make artworks to hopefully encourage all of us to keep our seas and littoral zones clean. Please keep reading and supporting this project in any way that you can. Happy New Year