August 2017 – Re:Culture #2

 


ClimateCultures launched in late March and has already attracted an array of creative minds engaging with environmental and climate change issues. It’s an online platform for all kinds of artists – writers, composers, painters, sculptors, performers, video and sound artists and more – as well as scientists, social scientists and humanities scholars, and curators in galleries, museums and online spaces. You can read about our Members here.


In Re:Culture #2 
> Latest Members' posts 
> News in Brief from Members & Subscribers 
> Coming Up - August on our Events page 
> Views from Elsewhere - readings from the web > Book Club - the story so far... 
> On the horizon: this month on the site

Latest Members’ posts

On Symbols of Hope for the Future

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

I’ve been taking a new, free online ecolinguistics course. It’s 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 is helping me get past a barrier in my thinking about climate change…

 

Meinrad Craighead and the Animal Face of God

Illustrator and writer Mat Osmond introduces Meinrad Craighead – an American painter whose career has included fourteen years living as a Benedictine nun at Stanbrook Abbey, England – and her intense religiosity, her sense of sustained encounter with a feminine presence that first flooded into her child mind.

 

Taking the World for a Walk 

I’ve been trying out the Deep Time Walk app. This is a walk through 4.6 billion years of Deep Time of Earth’s history towards Now. A journey taken by a Fool and a Scientist, trading insights, knowledge and deep questions as they go – and along the way they bring us into their explorations of life and our world.

 

‘A Plastic Ocean’ at North Devon Arts

Linda Gordon, a Devon-based artist, reflects on a recent exhibition she contributed work to, and the issues that inspired such a diversity of art. A couple of months ago, members of North Devon Arts viewed the film A Plastic Ocean, which investigates the dangerously escalating problems relating to plastics production and disposal – particularly the horrific amount that’s continually being dumped in our oceans.

News in Brief from Members …

Lots of updates this month, including some news on how recent Members' posts on ClimateCultures have been having an impact.

If you have news for Re:Cultured #3, send in just two sentences + a link - by 21st August at the latest.

Paul Allen is leading this 5th-7th September course at CAT: “Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen! is a three-day, in-depth introduction to our latest research showing how we can deliver a climate positive future, whilst maintaining a modern lifestyle. A great way for creatives wanting to get a grounding, it also covers how Zero Carbon Britain can be used as a powerful tool for groups and individuals to inspire positive action, stimulate debate and build consensus in their communities and places of work.” See CAT Short Courses for details.

Nancy Campbell: “My book The Library of Ice has been signed by Scribner UK – a literary division of Simon & Schuster UK – and will be out in 2018. The genesis of the book is an essay I wrote on ice cores and climate change, which won the Terrain Nonfiction contest a few years back. See Terrain for the essay.

Camilla Cancantata: “Both with the theatre group Terabac, which I helped co-found last year, and in my own music/songs, I seek to re-frame the world from an arthropod’s point of view – even though of course it is the human speaking through the arthropod. What a contradiction – yet I believe by imagining what other species might say to us, we can deepen our understanding of ourselves, not as other, but as connected to all the myriad life forms, evolved and evolving, with whom we share the earth.” Listen to Dragonfly at Soundcloud.

Helen Chatterjee: “The National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing have funding from Arts Council for four more years to merge the two. The new body constitutes the biggest alliance of culture and health organisations and practitioners that there has ever been and this represents a major opportunity for both the culture and health sectors.” See National Alliance for Museums and Wellbeing.

Mary Eighteen: “Following a Call for Abstracts, I have been invited to present Between Seduction and Defilement: A Visual Encounter with Abjection via Concepts of Framing Within Painting and Video to the Kristeva Circle at the University of Pittsburgh. This is an exciting prospect as the paper presents a proposal for an exhibition I mentioned on ClimateCultures, and explores notions of the frame which I explore in another post appearing there soon.” See Kristeva Circle.

Linda Gordon: “The Plastic Ocean exhibition by North Devon Arts has generated a wonderful response – triggering strong interest and conversation between exhibition visitors, as well as the artists themselves. There has also been much online interest resulting from my blog post on ClimateCultures, amongst local artists and environmental organisations – as well as globally, receiving an enthusiastic and positive response from the makers of the film A Plastic Ocean.” See Linda Gordon.

Scarlet Hall: “I’ve been inspired this month by Reclaim the Power’s creative rolling blockade at the fracking site in Lancashire. I visited for three days and loved feeling connected to a movement full of warmth and determination.” See Reclaim the Power.

Justina Hart has been invited to present a paper to an Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies conference on literature and the “two canaries” of climate change (disappearing islands and polar places). It takes place next spring in Australia, marking the twentieth anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, and Justina is looking for funding to present her paper in person: please email any ideas about grants etc to justinahart@mac.com . See Eventbrite.

Nick Hunt: 7th September sees the launch of Nick’s Where the Wild Winds Are: Following Europe’s Winds from the Pennines to Provence. Nick walked the invisible pathways of four of Europe’s local winds – the Helm, the Bora, the Foehn and the Mistral – to discover how they effect landscapes, people’s and cultures. See Nick Hunt.

Jennifer Leach: “Outrider Anthems’ sell-out production Song of Crow is returning to Reading this September as part of Festival of the Dark. Creator Crow, crotchety, passionate, magical, unambiguously unimpressed with his human species, returns to Planet Earth (single stop Reading) for two nights only, pep talk fizzing.” See Outrider Anthems.

Julia Marques: “With regards to the arts (and theatre in particular) I would like to advocate a combination of space-creation for thought and a re-presentation of climate change without the need for didacticism. In this way, people can be presented with the familiar idea of climate change in a new and (hopefully) thought-provoking way that doesn’t tell them what to think, but instead gives them pause for thought on the matter.” See Julia Marques.

James Murray-White has shared this announcement of a new set of films from 350.org: “The indigenous Saami live in the Arctic regions of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, at the frontlines of climate change. These are four stories of Saami people speaking their truths about what climate justice means to them.” See 350.

Stephen Peake: Stephen is leading a show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August: “The Hero Who Overslept is a never seen before mix of climate science, psychology, philosophy and surreallist dance. Our quirky ‘Clark Kents’ of climate change will shake your inner snooze button awake, so come and see a performance that stretches what’s possible in an hour but will be a lifetime in the living.” See The Hero Who Overslept.

Lola Perrin has been interviewed by the UN on her ClimateKeys initiative. This is part of their series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. See UNFCC.

Arran Stibbe: “I gave a talk at the Rachel Carson Centre in Munich a year ago and they’ve just released a video of it. It covers much of the same ground that’s covered in the The Stories We Live By course and I’d recommend watching the course videos first.” See Rachel Carson Centre on YouTube, and The Stories We Live By.

David Thomas is offering a new course next year with poet Emily Hinshelwood: “Writing about Climate Change will experiment with a variety of approaches for poets, fiction writers or those who prefer factual writing, investigating ways of tapping our emotional reactions, using research, imagining possible scenarios, and generating great stories. How do we write about that often hidden connection between our profligate use of fossil fuels and the loss of habitat, life and lifestyle that many in the world are already experiencing?” See David Thorpe and Ty Newydd Writing Centre.

… and Subscribers:

Gareth Goldthorpe has launched a new website combining powerful imagery and writing on his conservation and creative work: “I am a conservation biologist with a camera. My work (and play) takes me to fascinating and beautiful parts of the world and it seems only natural to take a camera with me, and to start using photography as a tool for conservation.” See Gareth Goldthorpe Photosphere.

Robert Holtom:Stories For A Change: Narrative Skills – whatever change it is that you’re making, make it better with stories. In this series of workshops learn the top tips from fiction and how to practically apply them to your work.” See Robert Holtom and Stories for Change on Eventbrite.

Coming up – August on our Events page

Check the Events page for further information and links on these events and others over the next month and beyond. 
  • A Plastic Ocean, the North Devon Arts’ Summer Show, continues until 2nd September. As featured in Linda Gordon’s post, “After screening a documentary titled “A Plastic Ocean” at a members’ meeting earlier in the year, which examines the impact of plastic waste on the oceans and marine life, it was decided that this would make a good theme for the summer show. Over 20 members entered and have produced a wide variety of works including a poem, a sculpture made out of plastic waste and paintings incorporating found objects from the shore which all help to highlight the issue and underline the complacency of mankind.”
  • End of the World Garden is running near Falmouth, Cornwall, until 27th August. A unique project – a two-acre perennial forest garden in Cornwall cultivated over the last twelve years which will become a collaborative platform for artist residencies, durational trans-disciplinary research, and residential seminars exploring land use and post-capital futures – the site will host a diverse programme of public events, practical workshops in off-grid living, horticulture, ecology, and participatory art commissions.
  • The Hero Who Overslept is at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every day 2nd – 28th August (not 14th & 21st). “We all love a lie in, but the alarm clock is definitely ringing. The time has finally come to throw back the duvet and leap into this playfully unhinged show about finding the hero under the covers. It’s a sincere and heartfelt invitation to defy indifference and experience a new, tender love story for our long-neglected earth, one in which we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. In a never seen before mix of climate science, psychology, philosophy and surrealist dance, our unlikely heroes strive to remake themselves in preparation for an overdue remaking of the world.”
  • Reframing Environmentalism in London on 20th August is an afternoon conference split into two panels. “Decolonising Environmentalism will explore how histories of colonialism have been erased from contemporary environmental discussions, racist mainstream environmental narratives, as well as the neo-imperial nature of resource extraction. Reframing Environmentalism will critically examine the ways in which we need to reframe the environmental movement in order to revert the current environmental crisis. We will try to pose some “solutions” as well as debunking the narratives surrounding ‘green capitalism’.”
  • Balance-Unbalance: A Sense of Place runs from 21st to 23rd August in Plymouth. 
    The 6th edition of the Balance-Unbalance conference: “Our increasingly mediated relationship with the environment brings new insights to the invisible forces that affect complex ecologies. From meteorological data flows to temporal climate change models, our relationship with our environment is becoming more abstract, simulated and remote – tempering our desire to act. Could it be that we know more and experience less? It maps the coordinates of our Sense of Place – the horizontal landscape to the vertical transcalar spaces of the macro/micro.”
  • Stories For A Change: Building Community With Stories is on 29th August in London. “Whatever change it is that you’re making, make it better with stories.
    Learn the top tips from fiction and how to practically apply them to your work. Hone your storytelling, listening, empathy, community building and problem solving skills. Explore creative writing, popular culture and contemporary issues to discover how stories can help you make a change.”

Views from Elsewhere – readings from the web

Some themes emerging from my selection of posts and articles this month…

Somewhere between the ‘environment inside us’ (the microbiome in our guts, and what we may have lost in the transition from hunter-gatherers) and the environment around us (and rediscovering a science of beauty and emotion) are the artificial environments we seem to be turning to in attempts to ‘save nature’. And what we are trying to save it from was visible to Thoreau from the supposed ‘primitive retreat’ of his Walden experiment: in reality his cabin was “a front row seat to the ravages and displacements that would become the Anthropocene.”

The long and ongoing political struggle betwen climate science and climate scepticism is highlighted in posts about climate scientist Stephen Schneider’s pioneering 1976 book, The Genesis Strategy, and critiquing recent blogging by humorist Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) that exhibits some the lazy thinking ‘inspired’ by all the climate nonsense circulating out there. Meanwhile, a new media campaign is witness to the deaths of environmental defenders – 98 already this year.

Scientific research and artistic creativity have never been more relevant to how we make sense of and respond to all this. A university celebrates researchers’ creative side; a creative practitioner offers “the one question that will make you more creative – guaranteed”; a new podcast explores the lessons of 20th century French composer Olivier Messiaen’s “catalogue of Birds”; a climate scientist produces a series of data animations inspired by a classic 1979 album cover; a historian reviews an account of how knowledge of colonial expansion and the intensification and commercialisation of agriculture are revealed in the genetic ‘deep time technologies’ of seeds.

You can find more on this month’s selection, the readings from April onwards, and links to all the original stories at our Views from Elsewhere page.

Book Club – the story so far…

Our small but dedicated band of Doughnut Economics reviewers have been heads down, reading and considering the first couple of chapters of Kate Raworth’s fascinating book. We’re learning that we need to take good time over the ideas, stories and histories that Kate has recounted, and we are giving ourselves another week to ‘see the Big Picture: from self-contained market to embedded economy.’ Several of us have commented on how refreshing Kate’s language and imagery are: a good example of this being how she brings to life the ‘players’ in ‘conventional’ economics as if they were characters in a play (telling me something new about Shakespeare in the process): Society, State, Market, Household, Business, Commons, Finance, Trade, Power. She then turns the dramatic tables, casting the same characters in the new ‘renegade economics’ that she will be explaining in more depth in the rest of the book.

I’ve also found it instructive to be taking the ecolinguistics course mentioned above alongside reading Doughnut Economics – both of which have also prompted me to dip back into Mike Hulme’s writing about myths in Why We Disagree About Climate Change – as explored in my post on The Stories We Live By.

I will feature more insights from the book and from our discussions as the Book Club progresses. Members, of course, can follow the discussion – and join in. It’s not too late to grab a copy from your favourite bookshop, your local library or via the magic of your ereader, and catch up. A good read is guaranteed!

On the horizon: this month on the site

My review of the short book Anticipatory History, which I promised last month, will appear in August – and will kick off a short series on the some of the work it has inspired and informed (including some of my own) and the creative and research possibilities this could open up.

I will be joining a Summer School run by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, hosted by Bath Spa University. The weeklong programme explores Creating Greener Narratives through the Environmental Arts and Humanities, with workshops and field trips to Avebury, Avalon Marshes and other sites. This might slow down some of the work on ClimateCultures for a week, but the learning will certainly be reflected in new items later on this month.

I’ll also be sharing my continued reading and thinking on The Stories We Live By course. I recommend it to anyone interested in how language reflects and shapes the different ways we think about (or don’t think about) environmental change. I’d welcome other ClimateCultures Members’ experiences and reactions to the course and ideas on how we could make use of the resources – in ClimateCultures and our own practices.

And, of course, we already have new Members’ Posts in the pipeline and more in prospect. That could include your words, images or sounds! And will you be the next contributor to A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects? I think it’s a distinct possibility…

Finally

Remember to check out the new items on the Opportunities and Anthropocene Learning pages in our Resources section. And if there are other resources you’d like to see alongside these and our Events, Views from Elsewhere and Links, do let me know.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed posts to the ClimateCultures blog since we launched, and to all who have joined the group, signed up for this newsletter or sent appreciative emails about what you have liked most on the site.

Please do link to ClimateCultures on your own sites and feel free to point your contacts or networks to our posts or resources. ClimateCultures is not yet geared up for social media and all that malarkey (a Malarkey Strategy is on its way…), but is delighted to be put out there by Members and Subscribers!

 

Re:Culture is a monthly newsletter from ClimateCultures; both are edited by me, Mark Goldthorpe. If you have items you'd like to share as News in Brief, or suggestions for the website, contact mark@climatecultures.net

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Thanks,

Mark

Mark Goldthorpe
Editor, ClimateCultures & the Re:Culture newsletter
mark@climatecultures.net