7 November

Public art with a message about energy saving and renewables

This post comes to you from Culture|Futures

transition-sculpturesIn Newton Abbot in United Kingdom, five tall ‘Energy sculptures’ have been up for six months now, with a sixth on its way, to highlight a debate about energy and how it is at the heart of the economic and environmental challenges facing humanity today.

A group of volunteers in a Transition Town group in Newton Abbot wanted to create something tangible and visible around the ideas of energy saving and renewable energy that would spark a discussion in their town.

Not always smooth but in the end successful, their journey to raise five three-meter tall sculptures in a number of settings in and around the town started in 2009 and turned out to be “long and interesting”, as it is described in this blog-post on the home page of the Transition Network.

The sculptures use wood from a 150 year old cedar tree that needed to come down in the district. They are adorned with symbols representing five sources of renewable energy, which are based on 35,000 year old cave paintings.

This summer, the artists plan to organise a sculpture guided walk “to show-case the town and the use of energy past and present and give food for thought.”

Press about the sculptures:

9 November 2012:
Sculptures are fanning out around town

7 November 2012:
Energy Sculptures to expand the mind!
E=X=P=A=N=D YOUR MIND on ENERGY. Strange but beautiful structures have appeared this week in and around our town. Where are they from? What do they mean?

5 November 2012:
New transition sculptures have landed in Newton Abbot
Public art in Newton Abbot highlights our relationship with energy

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The Cultural sector that we refer to is an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policy-making, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research and development. It is those decision-makers and practitioners who can reach people in a direct way, through diverse messages and mediums.

Affecting the thinking and behaviour of people and communities is about the dissemination of stories which will profoundly impact cultural values, beliefs and thereby actions. The stories can open people’s eyes to a way of thinking that has not been considered before, challenge a preconceived notion of the past, or a vision of the future that had not been envisioned as possible. As a sector which is viewed as imbued with creativity and cultural values, rather than purely financial motivations, the cultural sector’s stories maintain the trust of people and society.
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Designing out Waste – panel discussion at the Royal College of Art

On Monday 7 November, Arcola participated in an exciting discussion about designing out waste in the art and design sector. It was organised by the London Community Resource Network with speakers from TRAID  and the East London Furniture Project; it was an exploration of how artists and designers can ensure sustainability in the first place by Designing Out Waste.

The talk was part of the Sustain series of talks at the RCA. For more information, see HERE

Go to Arcola Energy

Emma Ridgway on Gustav Metzger


Gustav Metzger with Jeremy Deller: June 5 2009, UN World Environment Day, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Does the fact that an artist like Gustav Metzger, who has been creating politically agressiveaggressive works for 60 years, is so much in the spotlight at this late point in his career say anything about what we want of our artists now?

Tomorrow, RSA curator Emma Ridgway talks about the work of Gustav Metzger as part ofGustav Metzger Decades 1959 – 2009, currently at London’s Serpentine Gallery. It’s at 3pm Saturday 7 November at the Serpentine.

If you want a flavour of the talk,  Ridgway’s recent interview with Metzger about his appeals to artists over the years, is a vivid demonstration of how passionate he is about art’s need to involve itself in the political sphere:

You were an activist before you were an artist. Was there a particular moment, or was it through Bomberg, that you decided that contemporary politics was going to be a core part of your work?

Yes, my interest in politics was there from the age of around 17. That was in wartime, around 1942 – 43, when I was living in Leeds and there I almost completely converted to the idea of becoming some sort of revolutionary figure –art at that point had no place in my conception of the future. It was only in the late summer of 1944, when I felt I would move away from the ideal of becoming a political activist to becoming an artist. So moving into art was a way of moving forward without giving up the political interest; because I thought one could fuse the political ideal of social change with art. For example, the writing of Eric Gill who was both an artist and a craftsman and politically involved was a kind of inspiration to me. I could see this possibility of using the ideas of social change within art, with art and not simply through political, economic activity.

Sometimes we visit exhibitions together and discuss the work. On a number of occasions you have been disinterested in the work because it lacked any political bite or ethical aspect. Is this something you feel artists work must contain?

Yes, I think that is inescapable and the more the world changes, is changing, in the direction of more speed and more activities. And the more that happens the more necessary it is for people to stand back and, not merely in the art sphere but in every sphere of intellectual activity, to stand back and distance oneself and come up with alternative ways of dealing with reality than going along with a direction that is essentially catastrophic and consuming itself and turning itself into a numbers game. Where the technology, especially the technology of the mobile phones and this endless sound machinery that people force into their biological mechanism, seems to be unstoppable; and the more it goes on, the more we need to stand aside and distance ourselves from this rush towards destruction.

Read the complete interview.

Photograph by Benedict Johnson

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology