Swan Links with Youth Ambassadors and Schools on Environmental Project

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30 August 2019

The Swan Trust is partnering with Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors and environmental artist, Julia Barton, to take a Scotland wide innovate environmental project to the isles.

#LitterCUBES mixes art and science to highlight the issue of plastic litter, how it affects all of us and what we can do as individuals to address it. Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors will help Julia deliver the project in Shetland, including public and school workshops, some of which will be delivered on Swan.

Julia Barton explains more: “I am working closely with Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors to deliver a number of outcomes. I will train the ambassadors to deliver three different marine litter workshops, and give them all the resources required for delivering these on an ongoing basis. They will also help me to promote and deliver the project locally.

I am also excited to be working with the Swan Trust, to deliver workshops on their 119 year old traditional sail training vessel. Showing my marine litter artworks on the boat, will add another dimension to my work, connecting it to our seas and maritime heritage. Taking school children out on the boat will not only give them an exciting sailing experience but also help them identify the various sources of marine litter and what they can do to tackle it. Teaching our next generation about environmental governance in a fun and engaging way is one of the main reasons I do this work, and this will make their experience all the more memorable.”

Artist Julia Barton working on one of her #LitterCUBES
Julia Barton creating one of her #LitterCUBES

Julia has created 4 #LitterCUBES, from plastics commonly found around Shetland’s shores – clear drinks bottles, pallet strapping, cotton buds and mixed plastic fibres. Each CUBE has a story to tell about the source of the litter, the type of plastic and its recycling potential. In partnership with Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors and the Swan Trust, she will also be holding a number of schools and public events to explore these subjects through interactive performance and workshops.

With the educational angle, especially in relation to marine plastics, this project fits well with the objectives of the Swan Trust: Peter Campbell, Trustee of Swan Trust, explains more: “Young people are at the core of the Swan Trust, be it through sail training, helping them achieve their goals, working towards awards, or supporting projects such as this. The youth of Shetland are very switched on to environmental matters and, focusing on marine litter, this project will also help protect the environment Swan works in. We are delighted to be supporting this project and Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors.”

The Swan Trust helped to fund the Shetland leg of the project, by entering a sponsorship agreement with John Lawrie Group, to sponsor the creation of two of the CUBES, and matching this through the Culture & Business Fund Scotland, as well as helping secure a range of in-kind support locally. They will also be helping Julia and the Ambassadors to take the schools workshops out to Unst and Yell on Swan.

Ray Grant, Environmental Director at John Lawrie Group, explained their reason for getting involved: “Having been operating out of Lerwick for some time now we were eager to get involved in this unique and innovative community project and develop our links with the community. As a business we’re focused on helping our clients realise their recycling potential and taking part in the #LitterCUBES project is the perfect opportunity to educate young people and support the circular economy of the future. Shetland’s importance in delivering this project and supporting and driving the circular economy across industry and across Scotland shouldn’t be underestimated. We’re proud to have been able to contribute.”

Culture & Business Fund Scotland enables the building of effective partnerships between businesses and arts or heritage organisations by doubling the value of the business support, allowing the project to reach a new level. Carl Watt, Head of Programmes at Arts & Business said: “We are pleased to be supporting the partnership between The Swan Trust and John Lawrie Group through match funding from Culture & Arts Business Fund Scotland. Projects like #LitterCUBES are vital at highlighting the issues our coastlines have with plastic waste and it is great that partnerships like this enable young people to get involved in workshops that can help deliver this message to local communities”.

Julia will be holding public #LitterCUBE workshops at the Shetland Museum and Archives on Saturday 31st August, 10am - 5pm, and Thursday 5th September, 10am - 2pm.

Shetlands involvement in the #LitterCUBES project will not finish when Julia leaves the isles. The Shetland CUBES will join all of the CUBES created throughout the project for an exhibition at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in April next year. Showing their commitment to the environment, Shetland’s Youth Ambassadors have an aspiration to join Julia at the Festival and meet with MSPs whilst there, to highlight the issues of marine plastics.

There is also the lasting legacy of the Youth Ambassadors trained to deliver a range of marine litter workshops, which they plan to deliver to all local schools on an ongoing basis.


Want to get involved in sail training boat trips in Shetland? There are a number of different ways you can volunteer.

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