Art in action: Not just a load of rubbish

This exhibition captures the result of 100 beach cleans, carried out by Elizabeth Vischer, artist, nature enthusiast and avid beach comber. In early 2020, over Covid-19 lockdown, Elizabeth set herself the challenge of completing 100 beach cleans. She returned to the same small stretch of beach at Longniddry Bents (a natural collection point due to its topography).

By the end of the beach cleans she had collected an astonishing 26,513 pieces of plastic! As Elizabeth began to sort through the litter she was amazed at the array and quantity of what she was finding: broken car lights, old plastic hair pins, buttons, pens, firework fragments, cable ties and tiddly winks. The 61 images in this exhibiton are all of these pieces of plastic, sorted by type/source.

Marine Plastic Mural Local artist Julie Barnes was commissioned with creating a mural out of the marine plastic Elizabeth collected which you can see in North Berwick Harbour. From a distance the mural looks like a regular piece of art. Look a bit closer and you'll soon spot the everyday items amongst the 13,000 pieces of plastic used. They sadly ended up in our seas and on our beaches.

The artwork was the idea of Jerba Campervans and Caledonian Horticulture, who in partnership with the North Berwick Harbour Trust, commissioned Julie to create this unique, colourful mural made entirely from the recovered plastic.

Marine plastic pollution is a huge issue:

  • Every day more than 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans.
  • Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution each year.
  • Over 5,000 pieces of plastic can be found in every mile of beach in the UK.
  • Less than 20%of all plastic is recycled.

If you’d like to try and help with the issue of marine plastic Caledonian Horticulture have recommended some easy things you can do:

  • Pick Up 5! Every time you visit the beach (or go on any walk), why not challenge yourself to take 5 pieces of litter home with you. If everybody did this, it would soon have a big impact.
  • Don’t flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet, particularly wet wipes and sanitary items as these often end up in the sea.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. There is a reason reduce is listed first, it is the most important step in helping avoid marine plastic. Carry a reusable bag with you, choose loose fruit and veg, think before using helium balloons and disposable bbqs, take a refillable bottle with you. All these actions will help reduce the amount of litter on our beaches and in our seas.

To get involved in future beach cleans visit Caledonian Horticulture - Scottish Coastal Clean Up.

Don't forget you can also borrow a beach clean kit from the Seabird Centre team or join one of our local social beach cleans.

This exhibition is supported by Caledonian Horticulture, Jerba Campervan, North Berwick Harbour Trust and Keystone Positive Change Investment Trust.