Sustainable Approach

The Southbank re-designed with the tides in mind

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Ella-Marie Fowler got in touch about her BA project on sustainability, and here she describes it.

I’m a graduating student from Design for Performance (BA Hons) at Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. For my final project, I chose to focus on sustainability within theatre and how the arts can affect climate change awareness.

I designed a proposal for a Sustainable Arts Centre on the Southbank, London (pictured). The centre would provide space for visiting artists, performers and theatre companies to respond to climate change awareness. The building would be constructed from reclaimed materials and use green energy sources. Visitors to the centre would encounter different experiences throughout the day due to the changing tide of the Thames.

Last year, I visited the Jellyfish Theatre and researched art organisations such as TippingPoint through the Ashden Directory. This sparked ideas about my final year project. As a graduating student in theatre design, I wanted my work to reflect contemporary issues and consider how to develop a sustainable approach to my future work.

“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

Developing a sustainable approach to public art

JRdetail1 – artist Jane Revitt

The first ever set of FREE guidelines to help artists and commissioners embrace the sustainable as well as the artistic impact of their work has been launched by Chrysalis Arts http://www.chrysalisarts.org.uk, a public art, training and development agency based in rural North Yorkshire.

Public Art Sustainability Assessment (PASA for short) is a free interactive assessment tool available from http://www.pasaguidelines.org/ which aims to promote sustainable practice in public art to artists and commissioners and has been developed to assist Chrysalis Arts in the process of analysing and evaluating projects that they are involved in.

Kate Maddison, Director at Chrysalis Arts comments:”
“ When we set out to discover how to address sustainability within our public art practice, we were dismayed to find so little information to guide us. This prompted us to take the first step and start the process of establishing our own method of working sustainably. What we found interested us greatly because it threw the spot-light on issues that are relevant to others involved in commissioning and creating public art and beyond that to the way society values sustainability.”

“ Art has an ability to reflect and potentially influence our behaviour and public art is by its nature in the public eye. Chrysalis Arts believes it has a role to play in promoting responsible behaviour in this context. It soon became clear that we needed to disseminate this information widely, as the issues need to be dealt with by everyone involved in the process of planning, commissioning and implementing public art.”

The online interactive checklist is easy to use and covers the key issues which surround sustainable practice in public art. This checklist is supported by full guidelines and useful case studies.

To use the free PASA checklist and download the guidelines please visit and register at www.pasaguidelines.org. Registered users can answer questions about their art activity or project online and when the checklist is completed, they can download their answers as a pdf document.

PASA has been created for artists and creative practitioners as well as public art organisations, local authorities, developers, commissioners, funders, architects, landscape architects, engineers, contractors, communities, schools and anyone else who may be involved in the commissioning, development, creation, maintenance and decommissioning of public art at different scales and in different contexts.

Chrysalis Arts have developed  PASA in consultation with a wide range of partners – including artists and arts organisations, local authority officers, specialists from higher education establishments and environmental consultants Gaia Research, as well as looking to government sources and other creative practitioners such as architects for guidance on sustainable principles and practice.

“While artistic considerations should be foremost in creating public art, there is no reason why artists cannot embrace sustainable principles in the way in which they conceive and implement their ideas, as long as this is supported through the funding and commissioning process… “ Kate Maddison

Initial feedback gained from the launch of the Guidelines at “Art Ecology and Sustainable Practice” an event held Chrysalis Art’s base, The Art Depot, was very positive and include:

“Helpful to have these points presented in a useable form” Barbara Greene, artist

“(PASA) asks and answers a range of public art questions” Harry Hodgson, Hull School of Art and Design

“Very useful tool… would like to try putting it into practice” Adele Jackson, artist and project manager, Loca, Kirklees Council

Chrysalis Arts view PASA as very much the starting point in the debate around public art practice and sustainability, and hope that by throwing the debate open to others, the result in the long term will be a more sustainable way of working.

Community Mosaic, Lord Street, Southport - Chrysalis Arts Photo by Chrysalis Arts

Press contact

For more press information and images contact Jane Redfern PR tel 01845 526720 / 07724 131179 email pr@janeredfern.co.uk

to speak to Kate Maddison, Chrysalis Arts tel 01756 749222 / Mob 07976 731151   email  kate@artdepot.org.uk

Curzon Square Public Art - Chrysalis Arts - Ceramic Mosaic and Forged Stainless Steel Panels, artist and photo Kate Maddison

Editors notes

Chrysalis Arts is an artist-led public art company, training and arts development agency based in the North Yorkshire village of Gargrave. The company was founded in 1985 by Rick Faulkner and Kate Maddison.

Chrysalis Arts are keen to embrace the principles of sustainability in creating public artwork, promoting both responsible professional practice and conscientious use of materials and resources, in line with a fully developed environmental policy.

On October 2nd, Chrysalis Arts launched the PASA guidelines at the seminar event “Art Ecology and Sustainable Practice” which was held at the company’s base, The Art Depot, the subject of one of the PASA Case Studies, in Gargrave, North Yorkshire. The event was well attended by public art practitioners including artists, commissioners, local government officers, university lecturers and researchers.

“Thought provoking” Suzanne Dimmock, Lancaster City Council

“ (PASA) gives a systematic form to much of what we already do instinctively…(it) sums up a transferable approach which artists can pass on to whoever works with them” Sue Harrison, artist

Transitionboatessm - Transition Helix-Spiral-Boat, Manchester, Building Schools for the Future - St Philips and Piper Hill Schools - Chrysalis Arts

More about PASA online

Anyone wishing to use the guidelines will be asked to register before gaining free access to the PASA Checklist Online which is an immediate sustainability tool. Registered users can answer questions about their art activity or project online and when the checklist is completed, they can download their answers as a pdf document.

To accompany the guidelines, Chrysalis Arts have carried out four PASA Case Studies of how to apply the guidelines as an assessment method and to show benchmark examples of the company’s projects and current practice.

Registered users can also download the PASA Guidelines free as a series of pdf documents:
Guidelines – a detailed assessment method which incorporates the checklist and also; The (Full) Guidelines, The Assessment Process, Appendix 1: Chrysalis Arts – Steps to Sustainability, Appendix 2: Sustainable Principles, Appendix 3: Bibliography (including Websites), Appendix 4: Case Studies – Slow Art Trail, The Art Depot, Lord Street, St Paul’s & Piper Hill BSF, Appendix 5 – Template


Additional Resources

PASA Q & A – available

PASA Case Studies: Projects analysed using the PASA Guidelines (available from http://www.pasaguidelines.org/ )

  1. SLOW ART TRAIL: a pilot, public art project – a series of environmental installations (Bolton Abbey/North Yorkshire) exploring sustainability and creative practice – developed by Chrysalis Arts to raise awareness of environmental issues and explore how artists could develop a more sustainable approach to their creative practice. The installations ranged from pieces that tempted visitors to sit down and contemplate their surroundings to those which challenged perceptions about contemporary art-making in a traditional rural landscape.
  2. THE ART DEPOT is the result of a collaboration between Chrysalis Arts and architects Wales Wales and Rawson and comprises an office, design studio and workshop for the public art company in North Yorkshire. The brief was to create a building that reflects the true integration of art and architecture and provide a base for future public artwork, arts development and training activity.
  3. LORD STREET GARDENS ARTWORKS commissioned by Sefton Council to create new artworks to complement the refurbishment of Lord Street Gardens, which were originally designed by Thomas Mawson in 1906, a renowned landscape architect of the arts and crafts movement, and retain many of their original features. The artworks included a new illuminated water feature, seats and a community mosaic.
  4. TRANSITION, Artwork commissioned by Manchester City Council’s Building schools for the future programme: St Paul’s RC High School and Piper Hill High School (for students with special needs) occupied two separate sites in Wythenshawe and were being brought together as two schools that would share some facilities in new premises on the St Paul’s RC School site. Chrysalis Arts worked with the students and staff of St Paul’s RC High School and Piper Hill High School to create a new artwork to celebrate the two schools coming together and to symbolise their ‘transition’ to a new beginning. The artwork is itself an eight-metre suspended helix-boat structure of rope, wood and stainless steel, occupying the space above the reception area.

Message vs. Action

This Post was originally posted to Mike Lawler’s ecoTheaer blog on April 25, 2007. We are reposting it here to share this ecoTheater classic with new readers while MIke continues to regain his health. You can read his blog about his ongoing battle with cancer, The “C” Word, by clicking here.

In 1992, American Theatre ran an article called Green Theatre: Confessions of an Eco-reporter, in which Lynn Jacobson traveled to three performing arts companies–Merrimack Repertory in Lowell, MA, the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, and Dell’Arte Players Company in northern California–and wrote about the work they were doing on the allegedly emerging front of “Green Theatre.”

In the fall of this year my first published foray into “greening” our theaters is slated to appear in the pages of American Theatre too–over fifteen years after Jacobson wrote, at the close of her piece, “Can theatre save the earth? I don’t know. But from sea to polluted sea, I’ve seen it trying.” Well, Jacobson was certainly right about one thing: Theater can’t save the earth–at least not alone. But, it does seem that it can make more of an effort than it has. Because, though Jacobson failed to really take it into account in 1992, the greening of our theater isn’t just about putting on ecologically themed work. It’s also about putting on ecologically friendly work, whether it be new, old, experimental, or otherwise.

In my research, I am struggling to find theater artists out there who are striving for a more sustainable approach to theater production. If you are one, or know of one, get in touch with me–I’d love to hear from you.