Yearly Archives: 2017

Blog: Hawick Green Tease Reflections

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

In September, Creative Carbon Scotland took part in River Ways: A Future Heritage for Hawick – a series of events exploring the cultural heritage of the River Teviot and the role that culture can play in building the future sustainability of the Scottish Borders.

Organised by choreographer Claire Pençak and the Hawick Community Energy Group Ltd in partnership with Creative Carbon Scotland, Wilton Lodge Park and Alchemy Film and Arts, the programme included screenings of short films by the Moving Image Makers Collective (MIMC) inspired by the River Teviot, a guided river tour and a Green Tease discussion.

Gathering Forces – Working Together for Change

The context for Green Tease was set by Claire Pençak, highlighting that rivalry – from reivers to rugby – has and continues to define and shape much of the cultural heritage of the Tweed Catchment. Regeneration projects are currently underway across a number of Scottish Border towns including a £3.6 million regeneration initiative in Hawick and a separate flood protection scheme which has brought into focus the town’s relationship to the river.

Taken together these projects create a real opportunity for the Scottish Borders to transition to a more sustainable future, so how can the arts help shape a new culture of working together towards this change, a cultural shift?

To make visible some of the work already taking place across the Borders addressing these questions, the following speakers gave short presentations:

  • Derek Tait, Future Hawick Development Trust who work on making Hawick High Street an attractive place to live and work;
  • Artist and academic Inge Paneels who highlighted examples of cultural projects contributing to the sustainability of their locality including Eve Mosher’s HighWaterLine project and Working the Tweed out of which emerged this River Culture Project;
  • Mark Timmins, Tomorrow’s People who create opportunities for young people to participate and build their confidence through film and media-based work;
  • Ruth Wolstenholme, Sniffer, who spoke about Sniffer’s theory of change which is based upon collaborative working between communities, organisations and policy-makers, and their interest in learning through doing including through arts based approaches;
  • Louise Cox, Economic Development within Scottish Borders Council, who shared the council’s low carbon strategy which covers business competitiveness, quality of life, adaptation through infrastructure, and increasing community resilience; and her view of the council’s continued role in stitching together the work of individuals and communities on the ground.

Tour of the River Teviot, River Ways programme, September 2017

Opportunities for change and cultural shifts

Following presentations, we broke into smaller groups to think about the opportunities for change locally and what’s needed to bring these about. The questions we were asked to consider were

What are the opportunities for change in the Scottish Borders?

What is needed to make these changes possible?

Can we identify strategies that help shift cultures and speed up transformation?

Going Forward: Suggestions for the near, far and infinite future.

Key themes identified included the need for:

  • Greater connectivity: including transport, digital, physical spaces, people
    Letting go of ownership: in terms of ideas, land, spaces, narratives
  • Visibility: giving greater visibility to what is already happening within the Scottish Borders and more widely
  • Re-localisation: supporting what’s already going on and is working successfully
  • Movement and flow: increased possibilities for municipal/government to meet and exchange with grassroots/community levels. Need for more connectors bridging grassroots and top-down.

The opportunities for change which implied a cultural shift included:

  • Making the space for alternative ideas to develop. Creating a culture in which people feel encouraged to try things out, practice and develop ideas through informal processes and activities (rather than formal ones that can slow down, stifle or hinder ideas). Trying to remove the obstacles to this such as access to empty/unused spaces.
  • Creating more of a culture of sharing rather than owning ideas and resources.
  • Re-localisation. For example, a trial operating high streets differently to enable local people to shop locally (e.g. shift in opening hours so people can shop after work, electronic local shopping with collection points open after work).
  • Finding, shaping and telling stories that help to make change. Working with creative writers, journalists, local papers to tell more and different stories.

Through our culture/SHIFT programme, Creative Carbon Scotland is focused on creating opportunities for cultural practitioners to work with sustainability organisations to bring about wider change.

The opportunities identified in Hawick echoed those explored during our recent T-lab workshop at the Transformations conference in Dundee in which we discussed the role of arts in the opening up spaces – both conceptual and physical – for different ideas and communities to come together to generate locally-grounded responses to complex sustainability-related issues.

Similarly, our work with Frances Whitehead on the Embedded Artist Project foregrounds the strategic contribution which artists can make to decision-making processes through (amongst other things) their ability to synthesise complex facts, goals and ideas, and making explicit the implicit and visible the invisible.

We look forward to continuing the conversations sparked during Green Tease and supporting the arts and sustainability network in the Scottish Borders. Thanks to all who participated and contributed to the event.

More information about the Hawick Community Energy Group Ltd can be found on their Facebook Page.

Green Tease is an ongoing informal events programme which connects creative practices and environmental sustainability. Our Green Tease Open Call is here to support cultural and sustainability practitioners and orgnisations to run your own events with support from Creative Carbon Scotland.

Find out more about previous and upcoming events and how you can get involved in the Green Tease network.


The post Blog: Hawick Green Tease Reflections appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Imagining Water, #2: Flooded McDonald’s

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

The second in a year-long series on artists who are making the topic of water a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances and publications that are popping up in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme.


Flooded McDonald’s

Although created nine years ago by the Danish three-man art collective Superflex, the haunting film Flooded McDonald’s is every bit as relevant today, if not more so, as we recall with horror the recent television coverage of unprecedented water damage caused by mega-hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean. Just 21 minutes in length, Flooded McDonald’s was produced by Propeller Group (Ho Chi Minh City) in association with Matching Studio (Bangkok), and co-produced by the South London Gallery, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark) and Oriel Mostyn Gallery (Wales).


Superflex, founded in 1993 by Bjornstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger, and Rasmus Nielsen, calls their art projects “tools” that they feel can be used in many ways and in many contexts beyond the art world. As they describe it, Superflex “challenges the role of the artist in contemporary society and explores the nature of globalization and systems of power… with art work that addresses serious social and cultural concerns.” In Flooded McDonald’s, Superflex has taken on the topic of rising tides, a now-uncontested result of global warming, using a life-size replica of a McDonald’s restaurant that gradually floods with water. The British art critic Charles Darwent summarized the film by stating: “Imagine if a rising tide caused by global warming claimed the very thing that contributed to it.”

The Set

The set of Flooded McDonald’s was created in meticulous detail over a two-week period in an empty swimming pool in Bangkok, Thailand. Eerily devoid of staff or customers, it includes a fiberglass, life-size Ronald McDonald, real Big Macs, counters, freezers, banquettes, hundreds of paper cups, cardboard hamburger containers, fries, sodas, napkins, trays, signage and all the accoutrements of the real thing. For 21 minutes, the restaurant is gradually flooded with 80,000 liters or 21,000 gallons of water.


Still image from the film Flooded McDonald’s. Courtesy of Superflex.

What Happens

At first, the water seeps in slowly under the door. The accompanying sound track is similar to the sound of the gentle lapping of the sea against the shore. Gradually, the level of the water rises, taking with it everything in its path. But even as the rising water fills the space, the scene is not what we expect of a forceful, full-fledge flood. As Superflex describes it, the film portrays a flood that is “destructive but in a mild, Scandinavian way.”

Although the artists admit that they scripted most of the shots for the film, in the end, the water “does what it wants,” creating unexpected and sometimes ironic images: the fiberglass sculpture of Ronald McDonald topples over and waves to the camera, bringing to mind the iconic image of Saddam Hussein’s statue, arm upraised, crashing to the ground in Baghdad and marking the end of an era; a plastic sign reading “wet floor” floats by, an understated reference to the way in which many government leaders have purposely underestimated the dangers of global warming.


Production image from the film Flooded McDonald’s. Courtesy of Superflex.

The random beauty amidst the destruction is evident throughout the film. With its ability to reflect what is above and below the surface, water is its own work of art. Camera shots taken underwater reveal a murky world where oil, French fries, paper debris, bits of food, and even furniture form pleasing shadows and abstract images.


Still underwater image from the film Flooded McDonald’s. Courtesy of Superflex

So What Does It All Mean?

In a video titled Why We Flooded McDonald’s, created by the Louisiana Channel, a non-profit website based at the Louisiana Museum of Art in Humlebaek, Denmark, the Superflex artists “walk” the viewer through the film and talk about their artistic intentions.

In their narration, the artists describe the film as an “end of the world scenario,” a “conversation” on global warming that uses the most famous fast-food chain in the world as a powerful symbol of corporate greed and consumerism. In what to me is a brilliant metaphor for climate change in general and rising tides in particular, they state that “when you add water, you can’t move backwards from what it does.” Like climate change itself, once unleashed, flood water destroys everything in its path.

In preparation for writing this post, I sent an email to Superflex asking them how they feel about the film nine years later. I received the following response: “Flooded McDonald’s hints at the consumer-driven power and influence and impotence of large multinational companies in the face of climate change, questioning with whom ultimate responsibility lies.”

Where to see Flooded McDonald’s

If you are lucky enough to live in the Los Angeles area, you can watch the film at UCLA’s Hammer Museum through October 15. Otherwise, check out the Louisiana Channel video Why We Flooded McDonald’s for film clips and commentary by the artists or watch a brief film clip here.

(Top image: Still image from the film Flooded McDonald’s. Courtesy of Superflex.)


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog