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Upstream Battle art exhibition at Glasgow Science Centre

16 June 2022

We launched Upstream Battle on the Clyde in 2018, in response to the huge public and political concern around marine litter. Over the last three years the campaign has supported communities to raise awareness, gather evidence and inspire action in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.

The competition was judged by ocean adventurer Elaine Hopley, our CEO Barry Fisher and Carol McArdle from the West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaborative. It was open to early years, primary and additional needs establishment pupils from across the West Partnership area - Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

The children’s artwork – in a range of mediums from models and photography, to video and poetry – was based on their exploration of the source to sea pathway of marine litter around the River Clyde and how this was reflected in their own communities.

First place, with a prize of a £100 voucher to be spent on sustainable art materials, was won by Bardykes Farm Nursery School in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire. Children came up with the concept of #StartEcoBricking, to show that ‘what we save, saves us’. They created a live stage area in the nursery’s outdoor space, using eco bricks made from recycled plastic bottles stuffed with soft plastic (like empty crisp packets) and other things collected during local litter picks.

In second place was Hamilton School for the Deaf, in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Pupils from Primary 5, 6 and 7 created art showing two scenarios, one with our seas filled with healthy wildlife and ecosystems, and the alternative - if we allow litter to enter the seas - with wildlife struggling to survive in water filled with littered plastic and marine waste. Instead of plastic-based paint, which means artwork can’t be recycled, the children used homemade marble prints made from waste ink and old crayons, layering them with waste and recycled cardboard and foil shaped into fish.

Giffnock Primary in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire took third place. Primary 6 and 7 pupils surveyed children and adults in their local area, to gather their thoughts on litter in the community and how to help people stop littering. They used the information gathered to create a compostable 'flip book' with drawings, messages and ideas they hope will educate their community on litter. The book was made from recycled cardboard and homemade, biodegradable natural glue. Elaine Hopley commented, “This shows a fantastic understanding of the whole concept of source to sea litter, they investigated the issue and identified how to address the problem.”

Barry Fisher, our CEO said: “This exciting project was an ideal opportunity for pupils to engage in learning outside the classroom. I enjoyed judging the entries, which told the story of marine litter in imaginative and creative ways, representing hope as well as the huge scale of the problem. The use of different materials and artistic techniques to meet the brief is well thought out and the result speaks for itself.

“We know that 80% of marine litter comes from land and that we need to tackle this problem upstream.  Our stats also highlight that 88% of people believe that litter is a problem nationally, while 70% believe it is an issue in their local area – this is unacceptable.

“A big well done to all the children who took part in the competition - congratulations to the winners and those who were highly commended. The next generation is setting a great example for all of us in tackling litter from source to sea. Thank you to the teachers who encouraged and supported their pupils to create such fantastic, thoughtful artwork.”

Christie Cairns, Early Years Practitioner at Bardykes Farm Nursery School, said, “Thank you for this fabulous opportunity to put all of our eco school knowledge into practice. The children and I had a great time putting the video together and making our artwork.”

Carol McArdle from West Partnership said, “It is fantastic that the knowledge is there from such a young age. The children understand the impact that litter can have on the environment and are looking for ways to solve it.”

A big thank you to everyone who entered the competition - photos and information about all the entries will be published on the website in the coming weeks.


A range of other exciting educational projects for children and young people as part of Upstream Battle on the Clyde are coming soon, including a Professional Learning Programme for educators on Source to Sea litter and STEM. Registration of interest is open now!

Keep an eye on our website and newsletter for other highlights - including a young reporters’ competition, summer holiday events and STEM workshops. Find out how you can get involved in Upstream Battle across the Clyde area at

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