Bees

Arts projects in the Transition Network

This post comes to you from Culture|Futures

transition-articles-headerThe Transition Network is a growing network of over a thousand communities around the world. The network “supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness.” The summer issue of the magazine Transition Free Press, which was published on 1 May 2013, contains four articles about arts projects that relate to the topics of sustainability and ecology in various ways. In summary:


Art and Science meet at new Bee Festival

The Louth Festival of the Bees, organised by Transition Louth in the United Kingdom in May 2013, combines biological sciences with an art exhibition, exploring “the relationships between the aesthetic and the rational”.

“We may not, single-handed, be able to stop war, cure disease, end hunger, or save the planet, but we can, each of us, plant some flowers that give insects a better chance and make our world a little more beautiful,” writes Biff Vernon, a teacher who grows vegetables and flowers in Lincolnshire, and is, according to the magazine editor, “attempting to save the planet one Facebook post at a time.”

“If we are to make the transition to a truly sustainable post-industrial society, protection of biodiversity must be an urgent priority. The festival aims to raise awareness of biodiversity, focussing particularly on wildflowers and all their pollinators,” Biff Vernon writes.

Louth Festival of Bees includes a Family Fun Day, Conference Day and Art Exhibition with stalls, exhibitions, children’s activities, workshops, talks about wild bees, wild flowers, beekeeping and art.

transitiontownlouth.org.uk/bees.html


Anne-Marie Culhane and the art of ‘Abundance’

Anne-Marie Culhane, a performer, activist and catalyser of projects who lives in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, tells about the projects ‘Abundance’ and ‘The Diary Keepers’, about the festival ‘Grow Sheffield’, and about exploring the dynamic relationship between the artist and the community:

When Anne-Marie Culhane talks about Art, it is not as it is commonly understood, a commodity to be bought and owned, but a narrative co-created by people seeking to bring the earth and belonging into an urbanised culture.

“I’ve always been uncomfortable with the perception of an artist as a solitary creator who’s outside society,” she tells Transition Free Press.

To be resilient in the face of ecological and economic challenges, communities need to be adaptive and collaborative. As climate scientists admit, “we’re not managing to communicate properly”. Because what inspires us to change are not dry facts, but celebration, creativity, and most of all, belonging:

“We can’t go into any meaningful thinking about the future unless we are examining how we live now, and the diversity of the way different people in the community live now: really looking, taking time, slowing down, observing our place within natural cycles, seeing what we share. So we can say: OK, this is where we’re at. From this point we can look forward.”

Anne-Marie Culhane developed a project, ‘Diary Keepers’, to engage people into thinking about these things by keeping a diary for a month, where they would be trying to answer questions about what it is like to live now.

For Anne-Marie Culhane everything began when she came across climate change as a student of geography: “I was overawed by what it meant,” she said. Characteristically her first piece of work did not appear in a gallery, but in a city park in Leeds – twelve installations, actions and performances during one year.

“I began to ask: How can I support people to grow their own food, to be more knowledgeable about what they’re eating, to start seed-saving and seed-sharing and using organic and permaculture methods which nourish the land and communities? This where the main energy for ‘Grow Sheffield’ came from.

The idea was to hold a big season of events around harvest, giving people from different backgrounds lots of points of access – some creative, some more practical. We had guerrilla gardening in the city centre, a film screening and open space session in a local cinema, poetry walks and Allotment Soup, a celebration of allotment culture, with artists taking up mini-residencies on different allotments.”

Her creative project ‘Abundance’ started from an idea about harvesting unwanted fruit from street trees, but it also quickly took foraging and growing stuff to another level and became about doing and being with people.

www.amculhane.co.uk
www.charlotteducann.blogspot.com


Firing up the imagination

Jeppe D. Graugaard writes about ‘The Telling’ which he describes as “a new kind of grassroots, power-down, artistic event which draws on various forms of storytelling, performance, music and craft to explore what living through a time of transition means.

“Born in the imagination of Warren Draper, The Telling is inspired by The Dark Mountain Project and created on a DIY ethos as a reaction against the debilitating effect of the entertainment industry on folk culture.

The enchanting performance of Mr. Fox is just one of many that evening set in the post-apocalyptic Church View courtyard, which is adorned by a large mural by street artist Phlegm, depicting an archer sitting in a giant horn shooting down human bones tied to floating balloons. And the evening programme is just the culmination of a series of events and workshops that ran throughout the day: a pop-up cinema, the Sheffield City Giants (15 ft large puppets), bread-making, make-do-and-mend, a singing workshop, a talk on peace, and my absolute favourite: making iron in a clay foundry.

This diverse mix of activities and performances makes The Telling a place to be inspired and to learn practical skills at the same time.”

More information, pictures and videos of The Telling can be seen online atforthetelling.wordpress.com.

Jeppe D. Graugaard is a writer and researcher at UEA, with an interest in grassroots movements and projects. More of his writing is available on patternwhichconnects.com


Arts book in the making: mapping arts and ecological living

Fifteen artists and writers gathered at a Writing Residency at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire to lay the first tracks down for a groundbreaking workbook – mapping ways in which the arts inspire a different way of living within the ecological limits of the planet, reported Lucy Neal.

“At Lumb Bank we glimpsed an everyday ‘art of living’ which now remains to build on and articulate over the next few months, as the book and the project come together.”


You can read these four articles in full here:

Transition Free Press – Issue 2, Summer 2013 – published on 1 May 2013:
issuu.com/transitionfreepress


More about the Transition Network

Transition and literature

“Stories shape the way that we act,” says Shaun Chamberlin, author of ‘The Transition Timeline’, in this interview which is an excerpt from the film ‘In Transition 1.0: From oil dependence to to local resilience’ from March 2012.


A transition art piece

About the art piece Oil Memorial
Another excerpt from the same film, ‘In Transition 1.0’.


• Transition Towns channel on YouTube
www.youtube.com/user/TransitionTowns

• Documentary film from April 2012
The Transition Movement – An Introduction

• TEDx presentation about the Transition Towns and Transition Network
“My Town in Transition: Rob Hopkins at TEDxExeter” – 1 May 2012

• The Transition Network’s home page:
www.transitionnetwork.org

Culture|Futures is an international collaboration of organizations and individuals who are concerned with shaping and delivering a proactive cultural agenda to support the necessary transition towards an Ecological Age by 2050.

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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Natural Capital

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Does the (natural) world exist to provide ‘services’ for human beings?  Should we attempt to justify the importance of bees or trees or rivers or mountains or bacillus acidophilus in terms of an ecosystems services analysis, i.e. what services they provide to us?

Alternatively should we analyse what services we provide to ecosystems?  This question was raised by Shai Zakai recently during a discussion about ecosystem services.  It seems to focus precisely the problem with the ecosystems services approach, which is that it leaves us as the beneficiary of the services, limiting our responsibility to those we can comprehend.

For some useful background on this subject see the Arts and Environment network at CIWEM resource on Natural Capital, and in particular their introductory document From Microbes to Mountains.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

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New metaphors for sustainability: symbiosis

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Zoë Svendsen, theatre director and researcher, continues our series New metaphors for sustainability by turning to ‘symbiosis’ as a better term.

When I was given the challenge of thinking about a metaphor for sustainability, I realized I didn’t really know what it was, other than the idea that maybe you shouldn’t do quite so much of something so that you could do things again in the future. But then I got to thinking about the underlying questions. What do we need to sustain? What’s the idea of sustainability? It’s linked to current discourses against consumption and to ideas about austerity and about doing less.

What could you replace sustainability with as a metaphor that would allow you to do something as opposed to just not doing something? I was thinking about things like conversation and reciprocity and some kind of interaction with your environment that didn’t deny the pleasures of exchange and of use. I eventually arrived at the term ‘symbiosis’ and symbiotic thinking.

What’s interesting about the term ‘symbiosis’, is that as a metaphor it takes us away from the ‘nature versus culture’ idea or ‘human benefit versus benefit for nature or the environment’, and rather asks us to think about how there might be certain kinds of human symbiotic interactions and at the same time benefits for the environment.

The symbol for this kind of activity are bees, and bee-keeping. There can be a human relationship to these kinds of symbiotic practices that happen in the environment already – such as the spreading of pollen and the creating of honey.

And around that word ‘symbiosis’, there’s a whole series of other underlying terms or thoughts that could be replaced. Instead of thinking about ‘austerity’ – which is a negative thinking towards the future – that we can always only do less and life isn’t going to be as good – you might replace that with ‘ingenuity’. This celebrates invention and entrepreneurialism and thinks about what’s at hand and what possible in what may be limited circumstance but treats those circumstances as a pleasureable challenge.

Part of the problem with austerity is that it makes you want to rebel. I have occasional bouts of recycling rebellion – I go ‘fuck it’ and throw it away. ‘I want to waste, I don’t want to be sensible’.

This is something to do with the moral imperative around the idea of austerity – it’s just not fun. Part of the idea about  ‘symbiosis’, is that you don’t have that same kind of moral anxiety around all of your actions. You’re directed to a positive action instead of endlessly thinking about the negative – which just makes you want to be naughty and not do it.

Zoë is included in our film

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

New metaphors for sustainability: my sweet pea

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

In a recent series of seminars on site-based performance and environmental change, our Ashden Directory co-editor Wallace Heim met Alison Parfitt, of the Wildland Research Institute, and writer on conservation. Here, Alison considers her sweet pea as a metaphor in our series New metaphors for sustainability.

Sustainability. After the Rio Earth Summit 1992, I was impassioned about this challenging aspiration, with head and heart. Many of us struggled over complicated diagrams, wanting to encompass everything. We talked about ecological systems and the need for the sacred and spiritual, the connectedness of all. We explored social and environmental justice and quality and equality – with diversity. Models and metaphors came and went, bees in a beehive.

Now I see this challenge of understanding the potential and power of sustainability in a more intimate way. And I suspect that the full and inspiring notion of sustainability (sometimes understood but often not) is showing a way, a direction for the human species to evolve, if we can.

As I write this there is a sweet pea, picked this morning, beside me. A soft fresh fragrance. This flower is creamy pale with a purple, or even nearing indigo, fine edging on the petals. It looks and feels precise, very clear yet fragile. It moves in the air coming through the door. The flower is here today but gone tomorrow, the plant goes on and I shall gather seed. It is everyday and uniquely precious.

I accept that my sweet pea is not really a helpful metaphor for sustainability but for today, now, it enlightens me and reminds me of my relationship within all else. And how I could be more human. And that’s where my quest to understand has got to. I suspect it will move on again, soon.

 

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Bees

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Scottish Natural Heritage’s recent video on the importance of bees.

More information:

Thanks to Nazim Merchant and the World Development Movement for these links.  Please add comments with other links and information.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

R Beau Lotto: the mathematical impossibility of vision

As part of Radical Nature, The RSA Arts & Ecology Centre hosted this extraordinary talk Seeing Myself See: the ecology of vision by neuroscientist R Beau Lotto. It was half-illusionist show, half evolutionary science. Look out for the wonderful experiments with the vision of bees towards the end.

More information: http://www.lottolab.org/

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology