Anna Beech

Matthias Merkel Hess at Las Cienegas Projects until 10/2

Devil’s Tower has officially become an LA Monument, at least for a little while, until the clay dries in the exhibition of Matthias Merkel Hess‘ new work, which comes down on October 2nd at Las Cienegas Projects. The notion of recreating an iconic natural wonder (the original is located in Wyoming) in an urban setting, even in a gallery, is a novel one. Hess, who is the creator of the EcoArtBlog and editor/publisher of Mammut magazine, which he launched in 2008, is also a recent MFA graduate from UCLA (and undergraduate in Journalism and Environmental Sciences). For his first solo show in a LA gallery, he has chosen to combine his interest in art and ecology with his love of clay, in a brillant “outpost” installation where visitors can purchase handmade postcards, paperweights and miniature color glazed clay replicas of Devil’s Tower, all under $20 each. Wall posters are original works of art and go for a lot more, but still under $1,000. If you cannot afford to go to Wyoming to see the real Devil’s Tower, it is highly suggested you head on over to La Cienega near the 10 Fwy and catch a glimpse of Hess’ handmade wonder ASAP.


MAKE:CRAFT at the Ben Maltz Gallery opens Oct. 2nd

Ben Maltz Gallery

Otis College of Art and Design

October 2 – December 4, 2010

Kim Abeles, Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Frau Fiber, Garnet Hertz, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, Seth Kinmont, Liza Lou, David Prince, Mark Newport, Alyce Santoro, Shada/Jahn (Steve Shada and Marisa Jahn), Eddo Stern.

Inspired by the cultural currents represented in the popular magazines MAKE and CRAFT published out of Northern California, MAKE:CRAFT includes contemporary artists who combine handmaking and building techniques to create, engineer and hack unique, mostly functional devices, objects, machines and accessories; making either a sociopolitical statement, creating new markets for individual styled products, or creating inventive ways to experience the tactile world, non-virtual, the “real.”

The exhibition is guest curated by Patricia Watts, founder and west coast curator of ecoartspace, who feels that recent trends in the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) movement of making and crafting have empowered contemporary artists and designers to create more socially relevant work that supports sustainable communities.

Go to the Maker blog HERE

Go to MAKE:CRAFT Facebook page HERE


London Leaders Programme

“London Leaders brings together London’s leading lights in sustainability, to deliver real change, and inspire others to do the same“.

The London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) launched London Leaders in October 2007 to inspire and catalyse positive change, demonstrate sustainability in action, and increase London’s capacity for sustainable development leadership.

By bringing together sustainability leaders from all walks of life across London, SDC’s intention is to demonstrate the power of crosssector partnership and innovation for tackling London’s sustainability challenges and delivering improvements in quality of life. The goal is to motivate and empower individuals, organisations and communities to take responsibility and make the changes necessary to realise the vision of making London a global benchmark for sustainable development.

To find out more have a look at:

Future Arcola was part of Ben’s London Leader pledge

Go to Arcola Energy

London to Groningen – across Europe by Train

Putting my bum where my mouth is, when invited to speak on arts and sustainability at the opening of the Noorderzon Festival in Groningen, I though I’d better go by train rather than plane. NB I didn’t look at a map before making this decision…. Groningen is a long way from London

Here is how it went:

From: London, South East UK
To: Groningen, North Netherlands
Distance: 500km approx
When: August 2009.
Via: Eurostar to Brussels then Intercity.
Alternative: Train to a London airport, flight to Amsterdam, train to Groningen

Summary: Train takes about twice as long (all day), costs about the same or less (EUR107 first class eachway) but is more pleasant and productive.

Details: The conclusion of my experiment is that it is fully possible to productively travel across Europe on business by train but that it requires careful planning and if planning for someone else very clear instructions – train systems are optimised for national rather than international travellers and are less accomodating of ignorance than airports.

Some notes:
1. The subtle changes in the way that platforms are arranged and information presented (particularly related to changes in schedules) across Europe make it difficult for unfamiliar travellers to quickly identify which train to take.

2. A simple google map of the route with changes marked and key city names highlighted makes understanding staff, friendly passengers and announcements much easier (google maps application for Blackberry is great)

3. The ability to use of a first class Eurostar ticket to travel first class on any (non-thalys) train makes an incredible difference – first class is quiet and comfortable and not needing to purchase individual tickets eliminates much hassle.

4. Travelling by train requires some thinking and planning of the route as well as the destination. Unlike plane travel which is point to point, train travel remains more like the ‘real’ travelling we used to do. This is the ‘price’ paid for avoiding all of the horrible waiting, queues, metal detectors and fear found in airports.

5. Interesting to note that we are willing to knowingly wait hours, find and pay for transfers and taxis in airports but get impatient in train stations.

6. Ability to remain in phone contact on trains is a great benefit. Lack of internet on many trains (like planes) is unfortunate but likely to be quickly remedied through proliferation of internet connected phones –
resulting in almost uninterupted business productivity throughout the journey (unlike on planes).

Specific to Noorderzon:
From Groningen to Rotterdam takes 3 hours even with perfect connections. Rotterdam to Brussels is 1h45 and the connection v.tight (I missed it and had to wait one hour) thus the non-eurostar part of the journey is a minimum of 5 hours and probably 6 hours (everyone I spoke to the night before it was 4 hours)

Post image is of the freak storm which caused the closing of the first night of the Festival (I did my presentation in the pub)… an example of the imact of climate change on arts?

Go to Arcola Energy

Green Touring

The Elephant in the room for many arts organisations. For the record we are not against touring, any more than we are against having babies.

Arcola does not do much touring nationally or internationally, however we do have a sister theatre in Istanbul and we have plans to increase our own touring and our staging of international shows soon, so we are starting to think hard about this matter.

First thoughts…

Why are we touring:
1. Is a tour genuinely beneficial e.g. for artistic, cultural, financial reasons
2. Can similar outcomes be achieved in a lower carbon manner e.g. by a different artistic approach, alternative cultural intervention or different business model
3. Are we going to the otherside of the world simply because we met a producer from there – can we not meet someone closer?

How we are touring:
1. Can the miles involved in the tour be reduced e.g. through focus on a single or more proximate region (Europe rather than Australsia), or by programming a local rather than international company
2. Can the size of the touring party be reduced e.g. through local partnerships, revised set/technical, multi-tasking company members
3. Can the negative impact of the tour be reduced e.g. through use of trains rather than planes and by planning the intinerary to minimise distance between consecutive stops
4. Can the positive impact of the tour be increased e.g. by staying longer or adding engagement activities

Others looking at this:
British Council
Arts Admin

Some useful links:

Go to Arcola Energy

Friends of the Earth Show: Act Now Don’t be Bio-Fuelled

Produced by Arcola theatre as part of Friends of the Earth’s Summer of Action on Biofuels.

The 10 minute street performance addresses the complex issues surrounding the use of biofuels.

The playful but uncompromising piece demonstrates that biofuels are a false solution to climate change.

In the performance we meet:

  • A politician looking for a quick fix to climate change.
  • A business man looking for easy money.
  • A farmer who will pay the price for their misguided actions.

Taking to the streets

Arcola will be performing their street theatre around London and also in Brighton during the summer.

Director: Phil Ormrod

Cast: Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Daniel Millar and Sean McConaghey

Performance dates:

  • 2-3 Aug: Innocent Village Fete, Regents Park
  • 8 Aug: Barge – Paddington, Camden
  • 9 Aug: Islington Green
  • 15 Aug: Canary Wharf
  • 16 Aug: Brighton beach
  • 22 Aug: Soho Square
  • 23 Aug: Leicester Square
  • 29 Aug: Golden Square
  • 30 Aug: Sloane Square
  • 5 Sept: Victoria Embankment Gardens
  • 6 Sept: Soho GardensArcola Theatre

Go to Arcola Energy

Low Energy Lighting – Carbon Trust Information Packs

The Carbon Trust ( has some excellent information on low energy lighting solutions. See:

Spend some time on the website – there is a huge amount of relevant information. Much of the information requested by the arts sector is already there…

Go to Arcola Energy

Waste Wood as a Bio Fuel

There are significant issues with widespread adoption of bio-fuels from energy crops (i.e. growing wood or oil seed specifically to burn it). See for example the Friends of the Earth campiagn (

However this does not mean that we cannot make better use of waste materials. Effectively we are considering incineration of selected wastes to produce useful heat.

There is some excellent information on this subject at:

We are specifically interested in using:

  • Untreated wood -,18712&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
  • Fibre Board (MDF) -,18712&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Note that there have been changes made to the categorisation of Waste to allow the use of untreated timber and SOME wood composites as bio fuels. In preparation for using redundant set materials (which cannot be re-used) we need to consider elimination of materials which cannot be cleanly burnt (ply is probably one of these).

Go to Arcola Energy

Green Sundays at Arcola

Dear friends

Our next Green Sunday takes place on 7th June, all are welcome, drop in anytime between 3pm – 7pm for tea and cake on the roof, activities with the Secret Seed Society, a swap shop, market, debate about ethical consumerism with Neil Boorman, Oxfam and Morgan Philips plus music, film and books!

Best wishes


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