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Appeal From The Littoral Zone By Julia Barton

Littoral: the zone between the low and high tide marks”

I am a member of Ragged University, an artist, and activist I have spent the last 18 months cataloguing the litter on 18 beaches along the NW coast of Scotland, as part of Littoral Art Project which I set up 2 years ago to investigate and draw attention to draw attention to the volume, nature and effects of beach litter.

Beach debris

As might be predicted the biggest volume of litter on the Highland beaches I have surveyed comes from commercial fishing but a closer look at my findings shows we are all responsible. On one remote island beach (100m) I found over 100 plastic bottles and 180 caps.

The recently published 2014 the Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch report highlighted a 50% increase in cleansing wipes found on beaches. It’s an alarming sign of what is happening in our coastal environments and the continuing ignorance regarding the disposal of waste items.

Alongside my research the Littoral Art Project has introduced and engaged over 100 people in NW Scotland in beach litter issues through their participation in a programme of arts/science events. I am convinced that art can make a difference and people want to be involved.

As a result I am planning to use all the information I have collected to make a series of artworks to create a number of multi-media art works culminating in a touring Littoral Art Project exhibition draw attention to the volume, nature and effects of beach litter.

My aim is to change people’s behaviour to help reduce litter on our beaches, prevent loss of marine life, highlight the damaging impact on the food chain and wider environment

To enable this to happen I am asking for your support to produce a key part of this exhibition a ‘multiple artwork’ – a practical laminated colour ‘Guide to beach litter’ which I will use and give to community groups that I work and engage with as the exhibition is created and tours to five locations around Scotland over the next 2 years.

Please take a look at my kickstarter appeal and consider making a pledge to help save our beaches and protect our coastal and marine environments. I need to raise £3000 by the 4th May 2015. Further information available at www.littoralartproject.com

I will be sharing more of my observations from the littoral zone with members of Ragged on Thursday May 28th, please come along.


 

I will be creating a number of multi-media art works over the next 8 months as part of Littoral Art Project to draw attention to the volume and effects of beach litter, culminating in a touring exhibition based on 18 months research on Scottish beaches.

Littoral : the zone between the low and high tide marks

My aim is to change people’s behaviour to help reduce litter on our beaches, prevent loss of marine life and highlight the damaging impact on the food chain and wider environment.

Beach Litter
Commonly found commercial fishing litter

 

 

I am asking for your support to produce a key part of this exhibition. A practical laminated full colour Guide to Beach Litter which I will use and distribute to community groups that I plan to work with as the exhibition is created and tours to Shetland, Inverclyde, Peterhead, Ullapool and Edinburgh over the next 2 years.

 

Beach Litter Guide
Guide to beach Litter – chart idea

 

The chart will:

  • illustrate different types of litter found on our beaches
  • outline the specific hazards that each type of litter poses to marine life, humans and the wider environment
  • describe where the different types of litter are commonly found within the littoral zone (the area between the low and high tide lines)
  • detail the percentages of different litter items found and their source
  • suggest ways of changing our behaviour to reduce litter and the dangers it causes

 

The process of making the guide will involve:

  1. Selecting a number of beach litter items that represents what is commonly found on the beaches in Scotland and the UK generally
  2. photographing the litter items in the studio
  3. designing the guide layout
  4. researching the hazards relating to each type of litter and the percentages
  5. illustrating where items are commonly found within the littoral zone
  6. ways of reducing litter on our beaches
  7. printing of the work.
World Environment Day 2014 - towing litter off Isle Martin for recycling
World Environment Day 2014 – towing litter off Isle Martin for recycling

 

I intend the Guide to be completed by September 2015 when I will begin the first leg of my exhibition work with schools and community groups in Shetland, where I will be working in partnership with the Shetland Amenity Trust.

 

The Guide to beach Litter will provide a lasting legacy far beyond the life of the exhibition.

Risks and challenges

My biggest challenge to the success of this project is to ensure the scientific and ecological accuracy of this artwork.

To find the most accurate information about the hazards that each litter item presents to marine and wildlife organisms I will consult with Dr Phillip Cowie, marine biologist at the Millport Field Study Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae. Dr Cowie has researched plastic contamination of Nephrops (prawns) in the Clyde estuary for 15 years and has become an important consultant to my work.

He says “The scientists haven’t managed to get the message across, so maybe it’s time to let the artists have a go”

To ensure the accuracy of the ‘Guide to beach litter’ I will utilise the Marine Conservation Societies (MCS) latest annual Beach Watch statistics and consult with the MCS Scottish team as to whether my selection is representational of the shores we have been surveying.

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