ClimateCultures Blog

The complete archive of ClimateCultures blog posts.

December 2017

By Understanding COP23, We Can Help COP24 Succeed

by James Murray-White, Lola Perrin & Paul Allen
8 Dec 2017
Conversations

 

 

One of the great benefits of working with TippingPoint over the past couple of years was meeting such a number and diversity of great people, all working in their different ways on the creative challenges of environmental and climate change. This is a theme which James Murray-White picks up in this joint Members' Post by him, Lola Perrin and Paul Allen. In their video, James and Lola discuss with Paul his experiences at the COP23 climate change conference in Bonn. As Lola says here, "it’s vital to know what happened at COP23 so we can make our strategies on how to work towards making COP24 a success;" and this three-way discussion is a valuable insight for those of us who couldn't be there in person.

The Beating Heart of COP24

by Paul Allen
6 Dec 2017
Cultural Change 

 

 

ClimateCultures welcomes a new voice to the blog, with Paul Allen sharing his reflections after taking part in the COP23 talks in Bonn - and looking ahead to the cultural challenges for COP24 next year. Paul is Project Director of the Centre for Alternative Terchnology's Zero Carbon Britain programme.

November 2017

A Personal History of the Anthropocene – Three Objects #5

by Nick Hunt
29 Nov 2017
A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects
approx 6 minutes

 

It's a pleasure to welcome back writer Nick Hunt for the latest post in our series A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects. Nick's contribution of three objects traces one path from our present into a future which he reminds us will not stay forever on any one course. He returns us to a longer view, of a past which honours the power and beauty of natural forms - the human and more-than-human.

Doggerland Rising #2: Sinking Into the North Sea 

by Justina Hart  
24 Nov 2017  
Challenges of Creative Engagement
approx 8 minutes

 

In part 1 of Doggerland Rising, Justina Hart introduced her poem, which was commissioned following the 2016 Weatherfronts conference. Drawing on advice from experts at Durham University, she investigated the prehistory of Doggerland, the lowland plains inhabited by mesolithic people before sea level rise created the North Sea. In this concluding part, Justina completes the story of her research and reveals how the poem's characters emerged and what she has learned from the process.

Anticipatory History: Living With the Question

by Linda Gordon
13 Nov 2017
Conversations
approx 2 minutes

 

In what I hope will be the start of a new 'Conversations' strand within ClimateCultures, environmental artist Linda Gordon responds to my review of the book Anticipatory history. Linda reflects on personal memories and intimations of change, and offers a recent example of her ephemeral art. 

Of Fire, Ice and Earth

by James Murray-White
10 Nov 2017
Review
approx 5 minutes

 

Film maker James Murray-White reviews the current exhibition at the award-winning GroundWork Gallery in King's Lynn. GroundWork Gallery is dedicated to artwork directly focused on the environment. Fire & Ice brings together three artists: photographers Gina Glover and Jessica Rayner (mother and daughter) and potter Hilary Mayo. 

The Rise of Climate Fiction #2: The Emotional Key

by David Thorpe
7 Nov 2017
Speculative Worlds
approx 9 minutes

 

In the first part of The Rise of Climate Fiction, writer David Thorpe looked at some of the early works to address the topic, and the definition of this not-quite-so-new strand of writing as 'Cli-fi'. In the concluding part, he considers approaches that engage readers with the human story within the climate change one, and how writers might use their responsibility to convey climate change, given that "stories are fundamentally how humans understand and spread wisdom as well as entertain themselves."

October 2017

What Use is Grief to a Horse?

by Mark Goldthorpe
27 Oct 2017
Review
approx 10 minutes

 

Peter Shaffer's 1973 play, Equus, explores incomprehensible violence against animals as an indictment of a society where the human ability to feel true passion is dulled, the human relationship with the natural world a distortion of nature. When I rediscovered it in my local Oxfam bookshop, I knew I'd revisit it and pass it on as one of the works of fiction that has had an impact on me. That copy of Equus goes to ClimateCultures Member Ruth Garde for her recent contribution to our series A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects, and here is my review. 

ClimateCultures interview

by Mark Goldthorpe
26 Oct 2017
Interview
approx 1 minute

 

When one of our Subscribers passed on one of our recent Re:Culture mailings to the folks at Manchester Climate Monthly - MCFly - Marc Hudson, MCFly editor and climate change policy researcher, contacted me for an interview. MCFly – “exists to inform and inspire and connect people in (Greater) Manchester who are taking or who want to take action to improve the quality of their lives and communities and to prepare for the changes that are coming because of climate change and energy price rises.” There’s all sorts of interesting and useful stuff on their site. 

Keyboard Conversations Across the World

by Julia Marques
20 Oct 2017
Preview
approx 6 minutes

 

Julia Marques offers a preview of ClimateKeys, the ambitious and visionary global initiative from fellow ClimateCultures Member Lola Perrin. ClimateKeys opened with its Gala Performance in London on 25th October, and Julia's post looks at the space it offers us for a more relaxed - but still urgent - sharing of thought and dialogue on the predicament of our times. 

Action, Participation, Feeling: Where’s My Igloo Gone? 

by Adam Ledger
18 Oct 2017
Challenges of Creative Engagement
approx 9 minutes

 

Adam Ledger of The Bone Ensemble and the University of Birmingham discusses the process of devising "Where's My Igloo Gone?" and the challenges of making participatory theatre about climate change as something that we can collectively address. 'Oolik is an ordinary girl who goes on an extraordinary journey to save her igloo home. On her way she meets some exciting friends to help her – including YOU!'  So says the back of the flyer. What this strapline tries carefully to invite is involvement in a participatory performance about home, community and climate change.

The Rise of Climate Fiction #1: Beyond Dystopia and Utopia 

by David Thorpe
16 Oct
 2017
Speculative Worlds
approx 7 minutes

 

David Thorpe gives an overview of the development of fictional works addressing climate change. This was a talk he gave to a recent workshop on Popular Narratives of Environmental Risk - part of a series called Fate, Luck and Fortune - and I'm delighted he is sharing this with ClimateCultures. In this first of two parts, David starts with his own discovery of the term 'Clif-fi' when he published his novel, Stormteller - and how its rise reveals the tension between our twin fascinations with utopian and dystopian visions. (Part 2: The Emotional Key).

A Personal History of the Anthropocene – Three Objects #4

by Ruth Garde
12 Oct 2017
A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects
approx 5 minutes

 

For our latest post in our series A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects, I'm delighted to welcome this contribution from curator Ruth Garde. For me, Ruth’s fascinating selection of three artworks evokes a sense of past, present and future that highlights how Deep Time and 'human time' are implicated in each other, and the imbalances in our relationship with the rest of nature that are produced by our culture of neglecting Deep Time. I'm grateful to have been introduced to these three artists. 

“Water’s Rising, at Their Ankles Now…”

by James Murray-White
10 Oct 2017
Review
approx 6 minutes

 

James Murray-White returns to ClimateCultures fresh from a trip to Hull, City of Culture 2017. James brings us his review of the remarkable and immersive performance of Flood, a production "stimulating and prodding and exploring our humanity and responses to the world." Part climate change drama, part biblical parable of human foibles and virtues and community self-determination, and chiefly a story of humanity telling its story in and about a “city by the sea”.

Walking the Winds: Mistral

by Nick Hunt
5 Oct 2017
In the Elements
approx 3 minutes

 

Between 2015 and 2016, writer Nick Hunt spent six months walking the invisible pathways of four of Europe’s named winds to discover how they affect the landscapes, people and cultures through which they blow. His new book, Where the Wild Winds Are, tells the story of these wind-walks through the continent. Our final extract comes from Nick's journey down France’s Rhône Valley on the trail of the Mistral - a name derived from the Latin 'magistralis', or Masterly. The Mistral is the ‘wind of madness’ or ‘idiot wind’ that inspired and tormented Vincent Van Gogh.

September 2017

Walking the Winds: Foehn

by Nick Hunt
28 Sep 2017
In the Elements
approx 2 minutes

 

Nick Hunt’s fourth extract from his new book, Where the Wild Winds Are, comes from his journey through Switzerland in pursuit of the ‘snow-eating’ Foehn. This wild wind brings clear skies and wildfires – as well as insomnia, nosebleeds, anxiety and depression – to the Alpine valleys as winter turns to spring.

Walking the Winds: Bora

by Nick Hunt
21 Sep 2017
In the Elements
approx 2 minutes

 

Nick Hunt’s third extract from his new book, Where the Wild Winds Are, comes from the end of his three-week journey from north-east Italy down the Adriatic coast, through Slovenia and Croatia, in search of the freezing Bora. This wild wind's name comes from Boreas, the ice-bearded Greek god of the north wind.

Space for Thought

by Julia Marques
18 Sep 2017
Spaces
approx 5 minutes

 

Julia Marques reflects on her research for an MA in Climate Change: Culture, History, Society, and the role that theatre can play in opening up space for us to take in climate change’s meanings.

Walking the Winds: Helm

by Nick Hunt
14 Sep 2017
In the Elements
approx 3 minutes

 

In the third extract from his new book, Where the Wild Winds Are, Nick Hunt describes his walk across England’s Northern Pennines on the trail of the Helm. This wild wind blows from desolate Cross Fell to wreak havoc in the Eden Valley. 

Necessity and Urgency – Summer of Learning

by James Murray-White
11 Sep 2017
Art & Eco Activism
approx 6 minutes

 

In our latest Members’ Post, film maker James Murray-White captures the energy and inspiration of a busy summer, with his passion for learning, engaging others, and sharing their stories.

Walking the Winds: Blown Away

by Nick Hunt
7 Sep 2017
In the Elements
approx 3 minutes

 

Nick Hunt has walked and written across much of Europe. His first book, Walking the Woods and the Water (2014) was a finalist for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Between 2015 and 2016, Nick spent six months walking the invisible pathways of four of Europe’s named winds – the Helm, the Bora, the Foehn and the Mistral – to discover how they affect the landscapes, people and cultures through which they blow. To coincide with the launch of his book telling the story of these wind-walks through the continent, Where the Wild Winds Are, I’m delighted to begin a special set of weekly posts: five extracts he has hand-picked for ClimateCultures. This first piece is from the book’s introduction.

August 2017

The Words That Make Our Stories…

by Mark Goldthorpe
31 Aug 2017
Cultural Change

approx 9 minutes

 

The second in a series on ideas explored in the book Anticipatory history, this post looks at four of the entries in the book, and other illustrations of how language reveals and shapes the way we understand and respond to environmental and climate change: 'The Stories We Live By'.

Beyond Tongues: Into the Animist Language of Stone

by Oliver Raymond-Barker
18 Aug 2017
Cultural Change
approx 10 minutes

 

Our latest Members’ post comes from artist Oliver Raymond-Barker, who I met at art.earth’s In Other Tongues conference in June. Here, he shares the talk he gave there, which I was keen to feature on ClimateCultures.

Doggerland Rising #1: Walking Across the North Sea

by Justina Hart  
15 Aug 2017  
Challenges of Creative Engagement
approx 7 minutes

 

Writer Justina Hart was one of five winners of commissions from Weatherfronts 2016. All the commissions from that and the 2014 event have now been brought together in a combined anthology, available as a free download from Cambria Books. In the first of two posts, Justina introduces how she collaborated with palaeo-scientists at Durham University – one of the Weatherfronts partners – and how the research she conducted with their help fed into the creative process. (Part 2: Sinking Into the North Sea)

Anticipatory History

by Mark Goldthorpe
13 Aug 2017
Review
approx 8 minutes

 

In the first of a series on "anticipatory history", I review the book of that name. A copy went to Jennifer Leach for her recent contribution to our series, A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects. Produced by an interdisciplinary research network, the book explores some of the thinking and possibilities involved in 'looking back' at histories of environmental change in order to help us 'look forward' to what futures might be in store, and which we might shape.

July 2017

On Symbols of Hope for the Future

by Mary Eighteen
30 Jul 2017
Spaces
approx 4 minutes

 

Artist Mary Eighteen discusses powerful associations she sees between the 20th century art of Barnet Newman and a 21st century technology in Venice that will protect that city and its Renaissance heritage from some of the impacts of manmade climate change.

The Stories We Live By

by Mark Goldthorpe
30 Jul 2017
Review
approx 8 minutes

 

I’ve been taking a new online course on ecolinguistics and it’s been fascinating to delve into how we structure and receive our various discourses – texts, dialogues, advertising and news reports – in ways that shape our attitudes and beliefs on environmental, social and economic issues. And maybe some of the learning here is helping me get past a barrier in my thinking about climate change…

Meinrad Craighead and the Animal Face of God

by Mat Osmond
17 Jul 2017
Spiritual Ecology
approx 10 minutes

 

I met illustrator and writer Mat Osmond at art.earth’s In Other Tongues summit in June. His post is accompanied by powerful paintings by artist Meinrad Craighead, who is the focus of the piece. Mat says, “This paper, which I delivered at Schumacher College’s Landscape, Language and the Sublime summit in June 2016, is the first part of a longer piece. Part two will discuss the connections between Craighead’s art and her lifelong devotion to the Black Madonna.”

Taking the World for a Walk

by Mark Goldthorpe
14 Jul 2017
Review
approx 6 minutes

 

I encountered the Deep Time Walk app through a chance conversation at art.earth’s creative summit, In Other Tongues, in June. I was fascinated to give it a go on my local woodland walk, and have been returning to it for repeat exposures. Here is my review of the app.

‘A Plastic Ocean’ at North Devon Arts

by Linda Gordon
11 Jul 2017
Environmental Change
approx 4 minutes

 

Linda Gordon is a Devon-based artist with a deep interest in place. Linda’s art works are temporary, “in keeping with the eternal movement of life – lasting for perhaps many years to just long enough to take a photo.” Here, she reflects on a recent exhibition she contributed work to, and the issues that inspired such a diversity of art.

June 2017

It Begins …

by Julia Marques
30 Jun 2017
Cultural Change
approx 5 minutes 

 

In our latest Members’ Post, Julia Marques introduces her research on climate change in theatre for her MA Climate Change: History, Culture, Society. Studying the increasing interest in climate change within new drama, Julia’s visual discourse analysis will chart how the topics are addressed explicitly or form a backdrop to the world of the performance. 

 

A Personal History of the Anthropocene – Three Objects #3

by Jennifer Leach
27 Jun 2017
A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects
approx 3 minutes

 

A welcome return by Jennifer Leach – fresh from another season of Reading’s year-long Festival of the Dark – with her excellent contribution to A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects. Jennifer’s selection of three objects evoking a past, a present and a future highlights care and nurture as constants across humanity’s ages and communities, and her words move from prose to poetry with an ease that makes for a timeline of hope.

 

The Art of Noise

by Mark Goldthorpe
23 Jun 2017
Review
approx 
8 minutes

 

A lively, loud gathering of scientists, musicians, journalists, sound artists and social scientists can be both fun and thought-provoking. But my biggest impression from the creativity that unfolded at Climate Symphony Lab was the sheer noise. Physical noise echoing in the studio, and the overhwhelm of data placed in front of us as raw material for our creative thinking. Later, unexpectedly, I found Hilary Mantel helping me make sense of my impressions. ‘History is not the past’, ‘the map is not the territory’ – and the review is not the performance. These are merely my highly partial impressions and reflections on a day making music with the Anthropocene.

May 2017

A People of the Fall

by Mark Goldthorpe
30 May 2017
Review
approx 
8 minutes

 

Rediscovering William Golding’s novel, The Inheritors, in an Oxfam bookshop not only provided the ‘book prize’ offered for Julien Masson’s excellent contribution to A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects, but an opportunity to reread this classic a couple of decades after I first discovered it. Here is my review of this essential reimagining of a key transition in the story of humanity.

 

The Anthropocene Writ Small: My Friend Jules

by Ken Eklund
29 May 2017
Art & Eco Activism
approx 3 minutes

 

In this Members’ Post, artist and game designer Ken Eklund shows how working with stories offers popular, engaging, and accessible routes into the past and present of our life with energy, as well as imagining possible futures. And he has a creative challenge for you – get your storytelling sparks flying.

 

Óshlið: River Mouth \\ Slope

by Sarah Thomas and Jon Randall
25 May 2017
Environmental Change
approx 1 minute

 

In this reflective and evocative multimedia post, filmmakers Sarah Thomas and Jon Randall hold a conversation around the ideas, stories and creative processes behind their project exploring Óshlið, an abandoned road in Iceland. As you listen in on their conversation, you can see a slideshow of images they’ve brought back from this unique and changing place – and then watch a preview of their film.

 

A Personal History of the Anthropocene – Three Objects #2

by Julien Masson
16 May 2017
A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects
approx 2 minutes

 

I set ClimateCultures Members a challenge: share your choice of three objects that have personal significance for you and that say something of the past, present and future of the emerging ‘Age of Human’. In this post, artist Julien Masson offers an intriguing selection: his personal contribution to a History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects.

 

Utopia and Its Discontents

by David Thorpe
9 May 2017
Speculative Worlds
approx 5 minutes

 

Writer David Thorpe was one of the five winners of a commission from the 2016 Weatherfronts conference. All the commissions from that and from the 2014 event have now been brought together in a combined anthology, available as a free download.

April 2017

Generating Counter-Factual Worlds

by Deborah Mason
28 Apr 2017
Speculative Worlds
approx 4 minutes

 

Multi-disciplinary artist and cultural activist Deborah Mason — with additional reporting by Ann Light, leader of the University of Sussex Creative Technology Group — outlines their collaboration to engage people in counter-factual imagination. What if one historic event had been otherwise, giving us an alternative present to the one we live in? What would be the possibilities in our altered ‘Now’?

 

A Questionable Shore

by Mark Goldthorpe
15 Apr 2017
Review
approx 5 minutes

 

In my post Interstice #1, I quoted naturalist and writer Tim Dee’s account of Odin’s mythic ravens, Hugin and Munin. So I was delighted to see Richard Alwyn’s new and poetic film of the man himself as he walks off into the edgelands of the Wash, in search of a pure wind. Here is my review of the film, Into the Wind, which was shown on BBC Four on 12th April. You can catch it on BBC iPlayer, where it will be for the next couple of weeks.

 

The Polar Tombola

by Nancy Campbell
13 Apr 2017
Endangered Worlds
approx 4 minutes

 

As the UK tour of The Polar Tombola draws to a close, ClimateCultures Member Nancy Campbell reports on this Arts Council funded project, which aims to encourage awareness of endangered Arctic languages – and the environment recorded in their specialist vocabularies.

 

You, Familiar

by Scarlet Hall
8 Apr 2017
Art & Eco Activism
approx 2 minutes

 

Our latest Members’ Post is a striking collaboration representing a performance by Climate Cultures Member Scarlet Hall and Isobel Tarr as part of a Coal Action Network action at the HQ of the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in London. Scarlet Hall’s performance of her poem You, familiar (which has its debut here) over Natasha Quarmby’s and Ron F’s photos of the clay sculptures (made in workshops hosted by Coal Action Network) is accompanied in this post by text from Isobel Tarr.

 

The Coccolithophores Project

by Julien Masson
3 Apr 2017
Environmental Change
approx 3 minutes

 

Our latest Members’ Post comes from Julien Masson, a collage, sculpture and video artist who collaborates with other disciplines to expand the notions of what is art and participate in the very dynamic dialogue between digital technology, science and the arts.

 

The Ocean as Abject: Between Seduction and Defilement

by Mary Eighteen and Julien Masson
3 Apr 2017
Environmental Change
approx 4 minutes

 

In a return to ClimateCultures, Mary Eighteen – a Fine Artist working with ocean toxicity – produces our first joint Members’ Post with Julien Masson, a Multimedia Artist working with the Anthropocene. The text, images and video explore their collaboration on a new work.

 

Bringing Our Monsters Back Home

by Mark Goldthorpe
3 Apr 2017
Review
approx 7 minutes

 

Returning to a theme of ‘Wicked Cultures’ for ‘Wicked Problems’, I give my personal review of John Gardner’s Grendel, a 1971 novel that speaks to us about ‘Othering’ the natural world, and how our monsters insist on coming back in.

 

A Razor-Sharp Fragility

by Lola Perrin
1 Apr 2017
Challenges of Creative Engagement
approx 4 minutes

 

In our latest Members’ Post, composer pianist Lola Perrin shares some musings on isolation.

March 2017

On Night in the Daytime

by Mark Goldthorpe
30 Mar 2017
Review
approx 6 minutes

 

On a Spring day, we gathered for The Night Breathes Us In – part of Reading’s Festival of the Dark.

 

On Sullied Seas

by Mary Eighteen 
23 Mar 2017
Environmental Change
approx 4 minutes

 

Mary Eighteen is a fine artist with a deep concern for how humanity is destroying the future of our oceans and in turn ourselves. She introduces her ongoing collection of works on the Sullied Atlantic and Acidification.

 

A Personal History of the Anthropocene – Three Objects #1

by Mark Goldthorpe
22 Mar 2017
A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects
approx 8 minutes

 

I set a challenge: share your choice of three objects that have personal significance for you and that say something of the past, present and future of the emerging ‘Age of Human’. Here is my personal contribution to a History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects.

 

Festival of the Dark – Dark February

by Jennifer Leach
22 Mar 2017
Spaces
approx
3 minutes

 

Our second Members’ Post comes from artist and event maker Jennifer Leach of Outrider Anthems. She introduces The Night Breathes Us In, the next event in Reading’s year long Festival of the Dark.

 

Interstice # 1: An Excursion Between Culturing and Climate Change

by Mark Goldthorpe
22 Mar 2017
Interstices of Things Ajar
approx 6 minutes

 

The birdish metaphor stuck with me, and slipped into the cracks where I was busy dividing up ‘culturing climate change’ into wickedness, uncertainty and navigation.

 

The Interstices of Things Ajar…

by Mark Goldthorpe
22 Mar 2017
Interstices of Things Ajar
approx 3 minutes

 

Interstice – “a space that intervenes between things, especially between closely spaced things.” And a sometimes tangential blog ‘found’ in the spaces between the main posts at ClimateCultures: further reflections and references, on looking through a narrow gate…

 

Spaces for Joy and Grief

by Laura Coleman
22 Mar 2017
Spaces
approx 4 minutes

 

Our first Members’ Post at ClimateCultures is from Laura Coleman at ONCA, on the two spaces in the world that she thinks about every day.

 

Culturing Climate Change – Part 1: A Wicked Problem to Have

by Mark Goldthorpe
22 Mar 2017
Cultural Change
approx 6 minutes

 

Climate change could almost define ‘Wicked Problems’. Unlike ordinary, ‘tame’ problems, these have multiple causes, produce a web of effects, entangle themselves in interdependencies, are riddled with complexities, uncertainties and contradictory interpretations and induce a sense of both confusion and urgency.

 

Welcome to ClimateCultures

by Mark Goldthorpe
22 Mar 2017
Spaces 
approx 2 minutes

 

ClimateCultures is where we connect to explore cultural responses to environmental and climate change issues.