Chris Fremantle

The Right Tree in the Right Place?

Creative Carbon Scotland in collaboration with Climate House at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh hosted an event entitled ‘The Right Tree in the Right Place’ on 27 March. A useful summary of the event has been published on the Sustainable Practices blog.

The rubric of right tree in the right place is a response to an earlier (post-war) culture of assuming that any unused land like peat moorland should be turned to productive forestry. The right tree in the right place is meant to suggest that we can do more intelligent planting, and it is certainly true that we understand the value of different landscape types much better. Scottish Government for instance is investing significant sums in peatland restoration – undoing drainage systems and in some cases removing commercial plantations. 

However the right tree in the right place assumes that there are fixed criteria and some people working in forestry believe we are post-normal conditions where there are multiple variables – landscapes are changing because of climate change, weather is becoming more extreme (increased ocean temperatures mean more humidity and therefore more severe storms, greater rainfall, etc), pests and diseases are becoming a significantly increased threat (ash die back and emerald ash borer beetle). These multiple factors suggest that any claim to be able to determine the right place for any particular tree now and for that to still be true in 30, let alone 50 or 100 years, is challenging. 

The challenge is what strategies are fit for ‘post-normal’ conditions? It requires a rethinking of what right tree in the right place might mean. Places become more important, and all the constituencies in those places need to be involved – right tree in the right place is no longer determined by science and centralised policy-making alone.


Powered by WPeMatico

Ecoart in Action: Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations for Classrooms and Communities

Ecoart in Action was published in 2022 and has now been featured in the e-flux Art&Education database

The book captures the scope of issues that art and ecology intersects with – the first contribution is on the need for media literacy in relation to environment and politics, and the last is concerned with how to work with grief and climate anxiety.

It has a section of ‘exercises’ – activities designed to be adapted; a section of Case Studies with examples of works that artists have created in places with communities (human and more-than-human) and scientists; and a section of theory which addresses the key pedagogical challenges of bringing together art and ecology. The aim is to enable and empower artists to develop their own approaches by opening up ways a wide range of artists have been working.

The book is much more than a teaching resource – it has contributions from four generations of artists, from the earliest pioneers of art and ecology to emerging practices.

Contributors: Changwoo Ahn, Marcia Annenberg, Lillian Ball, Liza Behrendt, Vaughn Bell, Jackie Brookner, Jenny Brown, Brian Collier, Reiko Goto Collins, Tim Collins, Marlene Creates, Cynthia Cutting, Betsy Damon, Cameron Davis, Mo Dawley, Hans Dieleman, Samantha DiRosa, Anne Douglas, Jesse Etelson, Cathy Fitzgerald, Chris Fremantle, Amara Geffen, Arlene Goldbard, Beth Grossman, David Haley, Tom Hansell, Ruth Hardinger, Newton Harrison, Susan Hoenig, Nancy Holmes, Eileen Hutton, Basia Irland, Sacha Kagan, Denise Kenney, Don Krug, Eve Andrée Laramée, Loraine Leeson, Stacy Levy, JuPong Lin, Amy Lipton, Mary Mattingly, Christopher McNulty, Elizabeth Monoian/Robert Ferry (LAGI), Kerry Morrison, Beverly Naidus, Devora Neumark, Chrissie Orr, Carol Padberg, Wioletta Piascik, Deanna Pindell, Milena Popov, Aviva Rahmani, Ann Rosenthal, Hope Sandrow, Fern Shaffer, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Margaret Shiu, Ginny Stearns, Lorna Stevens, Joel Tauber, Chrissie Tiller, R. Eugene Turner, Jan van Boeckel, Ruth Wallen, Linda Weintraub, Robyn Woolston, Shai Zakai. To learn more about the contributors, all of whom are members of the international Ecoart Network, visit here.

Recent review highlights include a series of pieces published on Climate Cultures – the first focuses on the ‘Activities’ section, and the most recent piece on the ‘Case Studies’. A future piece will discuss ‘Provocations’. Other feedback includes,

Ecoart in Action reflects major activist and art-political movements, feminism and ecofeminism, conceptual art, performance art, and deep ecology. Interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity underpin many of the book’s contributions … offering ambitious, well-informed practices for art to address climate change.


What a book! The examples show the role of art for building community and furthering important discussions about the way humans relate to the living world—and, crucially, the place for artists to highlight problematic issues, disrupt harmful ways of thinking, and stimulate positive change.


A vitally important and inspirational survey of ecoart. A beautiful pedagogical tool. And a great resource for anyone interested in a more ecologically minded world.


We had four linked Panels at the College Art Association Conference in 2022, and a session at The Nature of Cities Conference. A full list of the panels and events featuring contributors to the book (with links to recordings where available) can be found here.

(Top image: [1] Ecoart in Action, 2022. Photo: Amara Geffen. [2] Robyn Woolston, Habitus (Detail)2013. Steel, foamex, aluminium, and printed vinyl. Photo: Robyn Woolston. [3] Fern Shaffer, Cornfield Outside Mineral Point, Wisconsin, 1997. Performance costume made from canvas and raffia. Photo: Othello Anderson. [4] David Haley, Making Our Futures: MA Students from Art, Landscape Architecture and Architecture. Students Walking Research to Question their Urban Environment, 2016. Photo: David Haley. [5] Venn Diagram Representing the Three Interconnecting Fields of Ecoart Practice, 2018. Courtesy of the editors. Photo: Amara Geffen.)

Powered by WPeMatico

Art and Activism towards COP – Guest Review by Marc Herbst

“Better late than never” This review from Marc Herbst, Co-editor of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest explores art and activism at the time of COP26. 

Climate Crossroads by the Human Impact Institute
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, November 2 – November 4, 2021

Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes By Radha D’Souza and Jonas Staal 
Framer Framed, Amsterdam, September 25 – January 16, 2022.

En route to Scotland in the Fall of 2021 to attend the launch of Jay Jordan and Isa Fremeaux’ We are Nature Defending itself that I co-published through the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, I had the opportunity to attend the COP26 UN Climate Summit. In Glasgow, I checked out the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA).  I was on an extended art and ecology trip – I had just been in Amsterdam at Framer Framed to see the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes by Radha D’Souza and Jonas Staal.

As publisher of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, I have come to appreciate how public protest sometimes appear as a synecdoche of the socio-political zeitgeist. So, the following review of these exhibitions and discussion of the COP26 protest are a meditation on tensions within the wider activist culture, tensions between what movements know—what needs to be done now—and the capacity for activist organizing to achieve those goals.  

With a desire to attract media attention, protest movements often take pains to provide protesters with facilities to meet, eat and socially and tactically exchange. Organizers manage their protest’s image through platforming particular speakers, and also by providing workshop space and material for activists and activist artists to develop individual and collective expressions. Thus, through how protests appear, they can thus be understood as a synecdoche in ways similar to and different from art’s relation with the social-political zeitgeist. The similarities are around what is framed (in art or through protest) as notable to stage toward the public. The difference is that while art is present to sparks audience interest, critical discussion and some sort of identification, protest is organized towards some kind of socio-political effectivity.

En route to Glasgow, I’d listened to a then-recent podcast discussion between Tadzio Müller and Andreas Malm[1] about the current limits of climate activism. The podcast was billed as ‘what’s next for the fight against climate disaster in the global north’. Malm is an academic and author of the acclaimed climate activist book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline. Müller was until recently a professional climate activist organizer whose earlier academic work I was familiar with through the Alter-Globalization era Turbulence Journal.[2]  

In the podcast, Müller outlines a history of recent eco-activist movements in order to describe the current state of activist affairs. He describes the post-cold war alter-globalization movements as different from the 1960s movements because of their distinctly contemporary context-based movement method, their own origin story, and a generational memory that generally wouldn’t know about ’68. With some narrative shifts, he describes Fridays for Future/Ende Gelende as the end of that activist cycle, one that in the moment he assumed would eventually be able to push for some meaningful action on climate change. For him the Covid lockdowns created a dramatic break in practice and perspective and timing—one whose break is so dramatic he feels it will need an entirely new origin story and practice. For what that story and practice are, Müller has no suggestions.  

The uncertainty of what comes next seems reflected in the Climate Crossroadsexhibition at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts. Upon entering the exhibit, I’m unsure if I’ve just entered an NGO’s office; my first impression is that I’ve entered a room set aside for an NGO presentation. Though not in an arty way, the display feels impermanent. There are of several full-color vinyl print panels, hanging on a matrix of black PVC pipes. The prints are sizable, with high-impact illustrations and texts—each with an image and story of one an indigenous women or youth leaders.

I am taken by the image of the Watatakalu Yawalapiti, illustrated by Helton Mattei: each climate leader’s illustration was by a different artist, and Mattei’s picture of Yawalapiti has the graphic impact of a Killing Joke era Batman panel—gothic comic book chiaroscuro. Watatakalu is a founder of the Xingu Women’s Movement, and in her accompanying text Watatakalu’s says,

Eu desejo que as pessoas não olhem os povos indígenas como um atraso. Essas pessoas que acham que nós temos que defender a floresta, nós temos que defender os nossos rios, mais todos nós precisamos estar fazendo esse trabalho também porque não existe outra casa para nós. Só tem essa casa e se a gente não cuida dela ela vai embora.

I wish people would stop looking at Indigenous peoples as backwards. These people think that only indigenous have to defend our forests and rivers, but all of us need to be doing this work because there is no other home for us. There’s only this one and if we don’t take care of her, she will be gone.


I was not far from the mark regarding the exhibit’s NGO aesthetic—this Climate Crossroads exhibit is an NGO presentation. It was an exhibit put on by the Human Impact Institute, a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to bringing new voices, “women, youth, frontline, BIPOC and others”[3]  into the room. Two Impact Institute employees sat at the installation explaining how the Cop26 Coalition, a group of activists representing the broad swathe of protest groups at the summit, named it “the most elite and exclusionary COP ever held.”[4] This because of the UK’s refusal to grant visas to many summit attendees from the global South and the high cost of travel and lodging in Glasgow. Thus, they say that their organization aimed to ensure that voices from beyond Europe and North America were present in Glasgow.

There was something similarly suspended on the streets during the early days of the COP26 protests where Extinction Rebellion’s (XR’s) aesthetics and organizing logic dominated. Extinction Rebellion is an activist movement founded in the United Kingdom that utilizes non-violent civil disobedience focused on pressuring governments to avoid climate tipping points. Though a grassroots organization made of independent local groups, they appear as a well-organized and broad movement because of their highly visible, uniform aesthetic. That many XR activists wear hi-vis outfits, in one of the many shades on the color wheel, unifies them. They appear here as serious, sincere, and direct in their communication. At the edge of one protest, a collective of print artists are doing on-the-spot printing with carved rubber stamps and fabric ink. Their table has collections of patches, free to take with the familiar hourglass logos and slogans like ‘rebel’, ‘act now’, and ‘post hope, post doom’.

I suppress a cynical critique about art’s inability to respond to this moment. I instead appreciate how during this possibly eventful climate summit gathering, the CCA has undone normal barriers between art and real political life. One thing that distinguishes protest from art is that while protests have the potential to become an actually politically meaningful in the encounter between protester and protested, art is traditionally bound to be an object of exchange—of meaning or money. So instead of critiquing CCA for short-circuiting loops between art and politics, I chose to instead appreciate CCA’s understanding of the moment’s gravity, and while the Climate Crossroads exhibit feels poorly staged, it does feel that the CCA suspension of art norms in this moment was laudable.

It is in this ‘post hope, post doom’ affect that these protests somehow appear in suspension.  The crowd I’m in is subdued but very angry. I see no direct action but the disobedience of the protests taking unapproved march routes. [5] The anger is directed at the expected failure of the COP and a fear of what comes next. For this reason, the protester’s attention seems to have turned inward. With the support of the City of Glasgow, the local coalition supporting the protests have set up ‘hubs’ for protesters to connect with each other; with many of the hub’s descriptions taken from self-care manuals. For example, the youth hub’s webpage says it is a space “to organize or just relax and chat with other activists, the Youth Hub is equipped with sofas and enough tea to sink a ship.”[6] The Govan Free Space[7] mirrors aspects of self-affirmation, “As the 26th COP sprawled a few blocks away from us here in Govan, we set out to declare our independence, our interdependence and radical dependence.”[8]

I enjoyed the activist self-care events at the East Pollokshield Quads hub that was decorated with XR’s colorful banners. I attend workshops on activist burnout and a meditation circle held after a climate grief workshop. These workshops are explicitly connected to psychologist Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects that trains people to deal with climate grief. This focus reminds me of Dark Mountain’s bold 2009 manifesto, coming from Climate Camp activists who saw that the “ecological, social and cultural unravelling that is now underway.”[9]

I would burn my right hand in a slow fire
To change the future … I should do foolishly. The beauty of modern Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the Dream-led masses down the dark mountain.


Dark Mountain was accused of collapsitarianism[10]—and also embracing a Eurocentric apocalyptic liberaltarianism.[11] XR’s pessimism is like Dark Mountain’s—though with a major difference. Though they are ‘post hope, post doom’, XR has come to Glasgow to protest.  

In Ending the Anthropocene Belgian philosopher and art historian Lieven De Cauter discusses XR’s melancholic pairing of hopelessness with activism. He identifies this melancholy’s root in the nature of our socio-political moment– where the state that has effectively divided and isolated its subjects in favor of just a few of the most wealthy’s interests. For him climate change represents global impoverishment, an affect of the total dispossession of global humanity, and one that exceeds the standard post-1492 boundaries of global dispossession dividing West and North from East and South.

In the book Futurity Report, art historian TJ Demos identifies an aspect of those traditionally dispossessed, that dispossession happened though life has continued.[12]Demos then highlights the continuity of life after a common thread has been lost. Among other things, Demos understands dispossession as a failure of governance and mention’s Achille Mbembe’s concept of “becoming-black” (252) where Mbembe narrates the epoch of blackness over the course of 500 years. First the government-sanctioned Atlantic slave trade turning minorities into property, then successful abolition movements, and now neoliberalism’s financialization of the entire world.

Now, for the first time in human history, the term ‘Black’ has been generalized. This new fungibility, this solubility, institutionalized as a new norm of existence and expanded to the entire planet, is what I call the Becoming Black of the world.


This introspection of XR seems in part to be a reflection of the shock of recognition, that government’s favor has left them and that they like the rest of the world have been left to die.

So in high relief to XR’s melancholy, I appreciated the bravado of Jonas Staal and Radha D’Souza’s Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes at Framer Framed Gallery in Amsterdam. Their court was in session for four days– from October 28 to November 1st. I attended two sessions – on 29th and 30th of October—these seemed pre-determined to end in a guilty verdict. The framework for the court is based on D’Souza’s legal scholarship, published in What’s Wrong with Rights? (2018)

I reserved a seat for two days—spots were limited due to corona regulations. We are all seated upon benches specially crafted for the occasions. Above each seat is a banner of an extinct animal or plant, painted by Staal. And below each drawing is the word “comrade” in an extinct or endangered human language. On the first day of my attendance, I sat below and felt responsible to the vanished Tobias’ Caddisfly above meOn the second day, it was the Ochrosia Kilaueaensis plant that was (and is) my friend.

Each day’s proceedings were carefully scripted to run something like a traditional court, though for each five-hour-long court sessions, the attending audience acts as juror, and their rulings are only enforceable through the spirit of the court. Staal, as court clerk, pointed to the legal docket provided to all attending jurors, containing information and evidence for the day’s proceedings. He calls the court to order. Lead Judge D’Souza instructs the jury and then asks the prosecutor to make their case. All court proceedings take place in the room’s center, at podiums separated by a settling pool of crude oil within which a petrified nautilus shell is sinking.

Each day’s trial is against a defendant tied to the Dutch capitalist economy. On October 28th it is ‘Comrades Past, Present and Future vs. the Dutch State’. On the 29th it is ‘Comrades vs. Unilever’. Then its ‘Comrades vs. ING investment bank’, and finally ‘Comrades vs. Airbus’. A prosecutor presents a legal framework and then calls witnesses. Witnesses are present [MH3] mostly via a digital livestream. These presentations are remarkable for the mundane fact that we jurors, sitting in Amsterdam, can question far-flung witnesses via digital technology. For the case against ING, witnesses included: Meiki Pendong from the West Javanese Indonesian Forum for the Environment, Fabrina Furtado from the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janerio and three villagers from Mbonjo Cameroon, representing the Synergie Nationale des Paysanes et Riverains du Cameroun. After their presentations, the lead and attending judges posed questions to the witnesses. There are perfunctory efforts to see if defendants want to interrogate the witness. No defense appears, and at the end of each day, I raise my hand along with the overwhelming majority of jurists in a vote to convict.

In her academic and legal work, D’Souza identifies how, within contemporary human rights framework, rights have become a thing to be traded and negotiated, like a sack of rice, a carbon credit or a slave. D’Souza sees the basic units for conventional justice as built upon the unjust disentangling of non-western people from their entangled lives. Land, for D’souza, is the heart of this entanglement where whole relations conceptually resist their own abstraction.[13] But the West’s regime of rights have had the perverse effect of turning of all aspects of life into discrete objects, ‘things’ to be traded away.[14]

Rather than waxing poetic like Dark Mountain or Extinction Rebelion at the ruin of their world, D’Souza, Staal and Framer Framed set up a court to put contemptable criminals on trial, regardless of the court’s ability to enforce its judgments. While this might demonstrate the court’s impotency, it also can be seen as an affect of the ‘hope beyond hope’ that is a promise in each jurors’ heart that perpetrators are guilty despite the ability to hold them to account for their crimes.

This intergenerational court is serious play. They and the CCA’s NGOs and the COP protests project extrajudicial visions that transgress governmental scales. All three projects start with assumptions of guilt, and all three demonstrate and go beyond institutional limits. The CCA demonstrates an actual transgression of art’s limits, XR feels the limits of government interests, and Staal and D’Souza’s embody an unfulfilled capacity for judgment to be meaningfully enacted. In this commonality and differences, there is at least one important thing that unites all three.  

XR’s ‘post hope’ demands on governance embody a movement that has not yet begun to articulate a way to effectively organize through its origin story, even though it does demonstrate a way to act. The transgression of norms that CCA demonstrates by just helping activists get a message across demonstrates a similar frustration and one step towards a new cultural formulation—the old rules must be undone in order to come up with something that functions.

While D’Souza and Staal’s court does not provide an answer as to who will carry out their public judgements, their activity begs this question. The unanswered question as to what force can actually bring justice reminds me of decolonial scholar Sylvia Wynter’s[15] analysis of the failures of the post-colonial struggles to build new worlds after the end of formal European domination, that narratives for how post-colonial subjects govern themselves has not effectively changed since colonialism. This need for a new narrative can be generalized as Müller hope for a new activist narrative to emerge. D’Souza’s legal scholarship suggest some practical contours where this narrative comes from—from a generalized critique of wrongs done and a common body to hold the guilt accountable. But overall, the bundles of possible stories that might be motivated through activist practice remains obscure within the sadness of a melancholy trying its hardest to renew itself, despite everything.

[1] Available online at

[2] The Turbulence journal published in print and online from 2006 to 2009. Its website is online at

[3] From the Human Impact Institute website,

[4] From the October 30th 2021 Guardian.

[5] 1.4718682 and

[6] From an online description of the Glasgow Cop26 Youth Hub, available online at

[7] From the South Glasgow Environmental Heritage Trust website, on a description of the Pollak Free State, available at

[8] From the Govan Free State hub, online at

[9] From the Dark Mountain Project’s website, online at

[10] In a 2014 article, New York Times writer Daniel Smith comments to Dark Mountain Manifesto co-author Paul Kingsnorth that many that many have seen him as a “collapsatarian”, cheering for an dooms-day scenario. To this, Kingsnorth responds that he does not want to have any false hope. Daniel Smith, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine,” New York Time April 20, 2014. Available online at 9

[11] For his mixed interest in and hopes for activism and his very fishy politics, the Out of the Woods eco-theory collective has questioned Dark Mountain’s co-editor Paul Kingsnorth relation to eco-fascism. Out of the Woods, “Lies of the land: against and beyond Paul Kingsnorth’s völkisch environmentalism”, Mar 31 2017. Available online at v%C3%B6lkisch-environmentalism-31032017.

[12] Demos writes, “Indigenous peoples, those of African Heritage, the colonized, the forcibly disposed and the displaced, the end of the world has already occurred, even long ago. Indeed, such events as colonialism, slavery and genocide, practiced over the last five hundred years during waves of globalization, have violently ruptured in many cases millennial-long traditions and cultural communities.” (Demos 252), In Eric C. H. de Bruyn & Sven Lütticken (Berlin: Sternberg, 2020) Futurity Report, 249-266.

[13] “Land is the glue that holds people and nature together to form places. Historically, rights transformed places into property, it transformed a relationship into a thing, a commodity.” (D’Souza 5)

[14] In a discussion with D’Souza and Staal about the Intergenerational Climate Crimes Act they authored for the court D’Souza says “when the rights of a river are harmed, the right of all humans, animals and plants that live in interdependency with that river are harmed as well. Thus you shatter the illusion that rights can be individualized: rights are interdependent, and intergenerational, meaning that our actions in the present will be inherited by unborn comradely humans, animals and plant life of the future.” (D’Souza and Staal, p.32).

[15] See Katherine McKittrick, ed. Sylvia Wynter: on Being Human as Praxis, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015).

Cited Bibliography

Radha D’Souza, What’s Wrong with Rights, (London: Pluto Press, 2018).

Radha D’Souza & Jonas Staal, Court for intergenerational Climate Crimes (Amsterdam: Framer Framed, 2021).

Lieven De Cauter, Ending the Anthropocene (Rotterdam: nai010, 2021).

T.J. Demos, “Beyond the End of the World: the ZAD Against the Anthropocene”, in Eric C. H. de Bruyn & Sven Lütticken eds., Futurity Report, (Berlin: Sternberg, 2020) 249-266.

Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine, Uncivilization: The Dark Mountain Manifesto, (Croydon: Dark Mountain Project, 2014).

Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).

Frank B. Wilderson, “Afro-Pessimism and the End of Redemption,” Humanities Futures 216.

Marc Herbst is an arts-based researcher, editor and publisher of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest. He is finishing up a research project around precarious cultural work with child asylum seekers available at Always Coming Home. He teaches research methodologies at TransArt Institute and is leads play-based eco-social workshops and projects involving play, ecologies, dreams towards cosmopolitical futures.

The author would like to thank Max Haiven for his editing help.


Powered by WPeMatico

Shelby Bennett reviews Robyn Woolston’s ‘Yours, in Extraction’

When entering Robyn Woolston’s recent solo exhibition Yours, in Extraction, the first word viewers see is “EMERGENCY.” The word is emblazoned on a stack of ‘Emergency Beacons’ stacked in the middle of the gallery at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts (Art Galleries at TCU). The beacons are tall, black, poles topped with blue lights that immediately catch the viewer’s attention. As Woolston states in the exhibition publication, the TCU campus is full of these Emergency Beacons that are topped with a blue light and equipped with a call button that connects directly to campus police. The beacons are ‘on loan’ from the TCU Facilities department and will be returned for reuse after the exhibition. Seeing them battered and lying on the ground is jarring for students who are used to encountering them as symbols of safety, securely standing in well-manicured lawns across campus.

Robyn Woolston is a visual artist who uses installation, photography, moving image, and print to inspire climate-based reflection in her audiences. Often working in non-gallery spaces, Woolston explores eco-grief, climate anxiety, land rights, and environmental extinction. Through her interdisciplinary and collaborative practice, Woolston’s work questions the structural frameworks perpetuating climate change’s violent and disastrous effects. For her solo exhibition at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts (19th October – 18th November 2022) Woolston presents a new film, publication, and series of discursive objects. Yours, in Extraction is the result of ideas and materials brought together over three years through residency periods in Fort Worth and collaborations with TCU’s Department of Psychology and BRIT, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The outcome is a thoughtful, complex, and interconnected exhibition that is both deeply rooted in Fort Worth’s extraction-rich geography and internationally relevant. 

Although the installation in the gallery seems simple at first, each independent element speaks to the others, creating a robust conversation on the current state of the climate. The film, the publication, the photography, the found and created objects, and the reflection spaces relate to one another, leading to a larger questioning of the frameworks and systems that perpetuate climate change. In this way, the exhibition functions as an ‘ecosystem,’ with each piece playing an independent and interconnected role. By creating an exhibition ‘ecosystem’ that relates to the local environment, Woolston communicates the large, complex, and overwhelming climate change issues in a tangible way to Fort Worth audiences. By collaborating with scientists and psychologists, Woolston also places herself within an interconnected system of agents working not only on visualizing but also embodying the realities of climate change to the public.

Facing the beacons are fabric banners and aluminum plates printed with Woolston’s photographs of Fort Worth’s landscape and the extinct-in-the-wild species specimens that Woolston studied at BRIT. The kaleidoscope effect of the images encourages close looking at the fragments while obscuring the entire image, creating a kind of visual dissonance that speaks to the alienation modern viewers feel from their natural environments. The fabric banners are made of ethically sourced organic cotton, and the aluminum plates are printed by a factory that runs on 100% renewable energy.

On the opposing wall, a series of kiosk flags in a gradient of bright red and pink hues line the entire wall. The flags are printed on both sides with words like “organic,” “biodiversity,” “redlining,” and “home,” literally ‘flagging’ the climate crisis while calling the viewer’s attention to what the natural world can mean to us and how it can be manipulated and controlled. The flags are made from post-consumer recycled materials.

Facing the kiosk flags, a series of agricultural tags, replicas of the tags placed on the ears of cattle, are hung in a cluster on the wall. The tags are printed with words like “oil,” “morality,” and “land rights,” referencing Fort Worth’s cattle trading history while calling attention to contemporary climate issues. The tags are made from 100% recycled material.

On the back wall, a television screen plays the Yours, in Extraction film. The film is made up of footage Woolston filmed during her residency in Texas and interviews recorded with researchers in TCU’s Department of Psychology and BRIT, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

A table at the front of the gallery displays books, including the publication Woolston created for the exhibition, along with titles for further research about climate change, trauma, and healing. The books will all be given to TCU’s library after the exhibition closes, allowing students to continue engaging with the materials long after the show moves on. Another table displays engagement materials, including printed pamphlets encouraging visitors to respond to prompts like “how does climate change make you feel?” Asking viewers to engage with their feelings about climate change directly, whether before or after viewing Woolston’s exhibition, allows them to confront their own grief, trauma, or fear.

Clearly, Yours, in Extraction is an exhibition where form follows function. All materials are recycled or ethically sourced; even Woolston’s trips to Texas were carbon offset. For the full environmental statement on the exhibition see Woolston’s website. More than just the materials, though, Woolston was intentional about creating work that itself would be regenerative. The film and publication created for Yours, in Extraction will continue to be shown, maximizing the potential for continued reflection and conversation about climate change outside the physical exhibition space. Woolston’s research at BRIT also continues to evolve as plant species thought to be extinct when she began the project three years ago have since been rediscovered.

When reading about the rediscoveries of plant species thought to be extinct, I was glad to find a hint of optimism, the possibility of a ‘happy ending.’ However, this thread of optimism that comes from a rediscovery is predicated on the necessity of loss in the first place. Woolston turns to environmental studies scholar Donna J. Haraway to capture the condition of embracing loss to act on our responsibility to one another

Each time a story helps me remember what I thought I knew, or introduces me to new knowledge, a muscle critical for caring about flourishing gets some aerobic exercise. Such exercise enhances collective thinking and movement in complexity. Each time I trace a tangle and add a few threads that at first seemed whimsical but turned out to be essential to the fabric, I get a bit straighter that staying with the trouble of complex world-ing is the name of the game of living and dying well together…

We are all responsible to and for shaping conditions for multispecies flourishing in the face of terrible histories, and sometimes joyful histories too, but we are not all response-able in the same ways.


Accepting the idea that there is no regeneration without loss, as Woolston does in Yours, in Extraction, allows us to confront the harrowing truth about climate change, mourn what we have lost, and then acknowledge our agency in moving together towards some kind of healing.

Shelby Bennett is an art historian and writer. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Art History at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Her thesis investigates how depictions of Jeanne Duval reveal anxieties about race and women’s roles in nineteenth-century France.

This post “Shelby Bennett reviews Robyn Woolston’s ‘Yours, in Extraction’” appeared first on ecoartscotland.

Powered by WPeMatico

BD Owens reviews ‘Assuming the Ecosexual Position’ by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle have taught us all more about ecosexuality than perhaps any other artists. Their new book Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth As Lover, reviewed by BD Owens, opens up their development of this practice in new, joyful ways. BD’s review of their film Water Makes Us Wet has been very widely read and reposted, so we asked him to give us the low down on this important new publication. He also highlights Beth and Annie’s installation as part of the NEoN Festival in collaboration with Sharing not Hoarding. BD draws on his reading of academics who make art, poetry and writing which is firmly positioned in decolonial thinking.

2021 Guggenheim Fellowship recipients Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle have written, with Jennie Klein, an extraordinary new book. Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover (University of Minnesota Press)is a romping chronicle of love, art and research collaborative practice. It weaves together: memoir, art texts, photo collage, artwork archives, self-reflective criticism, theory, and stories of love, care, grief, threat, censorship and nail bitingly exciting mischief. Even before I had finished reading Una Chaudhuri’s immensely delightful forward, titled “Foreplay”, I had already cuddled this book. Thank you, Una Chaudhuri, for encouraging me to cuddle it again! Being dyslexic I am a slow reader, but this has been an advantage. Spending time with these packed pages has been hugely pleasurable. By the time I had read Paul B. Preciado’s “Afterward” and Linda Mary Montano’s “Postscript” I found myself having a dreamy and cathartic wee greet.

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle’s collaborative art and activism practice has reached a broad range of audiences through their feature length films Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story (2014) and Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure(2017). Their performance works, and happenings, have been presented at documenta 14, the Venice Biennale and many other art festivals, galleries and venues across the Earth. Their socially engaged performances have included: â€œEcosexual Wedding” extravaganzas“Sidewalk Sex Clinics”“Ecosex Walking Tours”“Cuddle” sessions and â€œExtreme Kissing”. The stories in Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover detail some of their behind-the-scenes adventures while making these projects. Readers from Scotland will be thrilled that the Glasgay! Festival (and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow) played a “juicy” part in their love story. Stephens and Sprinkle have been in a relationship, and collaborating, since 2002. The founders of the E.A.R.T.H. Lab at UCSC, describe themselves as, “two ecosexual artists in love, in a relationship with each other as well as with the Sky, Sea, Appalachian Mountains, Lake Kallavasi in Finland, the soil in Austria, the Sun, the Moon, Coal, [their] late dog Bob and current dog Butch, and other nonhuman and human entities.” Although they acknowledge the long-established position framing the Earth as mother, they assert that the Earth can also be a lover. Reconsidering the Earth as a lover, creates a shift in the dynamics of responsibility and mutual respect.

Sprinkle and Stephens tread gently and respectfully when addressing serious subject matter; especially since at the core of the “Ecosexual Position” is a conversation about climate crisis and ecological devastation. However, for some, it can be difficult to absorb the hard truth of things. With that in mind, using the device of comic relief, the authors have planted puns, playful semiotics and outrageously high camp throughout. In this way, they are using humour as a desirable pathway into territory that may be challenging or unfamiliar to some readers. Joy is central to Stephens and Sprinkle’s ecosexual practice, process and purpose. It was Paul B. Preciado who “introduced [them] to the work of the Argentinian social activist and conceptual artist Roberto Jacoby, who advocated for what he called “strategies of joy”: small actions that face down and confront the fear in people’s minds.”

In the early chapters, Sprinkle and Stephens answer some burning questions: What were the circumstances that led them to meet in the first place? How did they end up in artistic collaboration? How did ACT UP and “third-wave, sex-positive feminism” influence their thinking? What was the genesis for the seven year project â€œLove Art Laboratory”? How did they cope behind the scenes of the â€œBreast Cancer Ballet”? Why did they choose to make performance art weddings to marry the “more-than-human”? What sparked their interest in developing Ecosexual and Sexecology research? And, what shaped Beth and Annie’s childhoods? As a rural Queer myself, I very much related to Beth’s account of her adventures while growing up in Appalachia. “The mountains and woods inspired [her] ecosexual desires. The hills were the commons where food was free if you could find it and the water was so clean that you could count the fish for dinner while they were still swimming.” Even before Beth and Annie had unearthed ecosexual orientation through their art practice research, it had always been there. In the same chapter, Annie recollects her early love of swimming. “I took in the sound of the splash and then the silence of being underwater. I became one with the water.” Reading their “Ecosexual Herstories”, a quote from Mary Oliver’s Upstream comes to mind, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

In their devotion to “Theoretical Ground”, the authors draw upon theory and scholarly illumination from Greta GaardBruno LatourDonna Haraway and Kim TallBear(amongst others). Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, and “[her] ideas about science, posthumanism, new materialism and contemporary ecofeminism have been tremendously influential for [Stephens and Sprinkle] as [they] have formulated ecosexuality and sexecology.” Stephens and Sprinkle interview Haraway in their film Water Makes Us Wet. Kim TallBear “has also been generative to [Stephens and Sprinkle in the] formulating of [their] theories of ecosexuality.” TallBear’s “work examines the historical and ongoing roles of technosciencein the colonising and subjugation of Indigenous peoples.” In the chapter “Between the Covers: Related and Recommended Books and Movies”, Stephens and Sprinkle have provided an extensive list of scholarly writing from the aforementioned thinkers (and many more). I was thrilled to see the essay â€œImagination and Empathy: Artists with Trees” by Glasgow based artists Tim Collins and Reiko Goto -Collins in “Between the Covers”. For additional reading on decolonial thinking, I would also recommend the work of Zoe ToddBilly-Ray Belcourt and Sebastian De Line.

In addition to working with Annie and Beth on this book, art historian Jennie Klein (Ohio University) organised The Purple Wedding to the Appalachian Mountains on the university campus in Athens, Ohio. Some readers may be familiar with Klein’s work through her collaboration with Deirdre Heddon, University of Glasgow, co-editing the book Histories and Practices of Live Art (2012). From an art historical perspective, I found Assuming the Ecosexual Position to be a web of delights. One of the things that I hugely appreciate about Beth and Annie’s feminist practice is that they generously platform all who contributed to the performances and projects. The book opens with a very sweet dedication “to two beloveds”, Madison Young, curator and performer, and Paul B. Preciado, curator, writer and Queer theorist. In most chapters, there are cascades of credited project collaborators including: curators, artists, designers, directors, performers, writers, musicians, sexperts, scientists, academics, activists, Radical Faeries and technicians.

They pay tribute to notable artists who have shaped their approach to their practice such as Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Linda Mary Montano and Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. Significantly, Geoffrey Hendricks and Martha Rosler were two of Beth’s professors while she was pursuing her MFA at Rutgers. It is remarkable that, even before Beth and Annie met, they both had mentorship from different Fluxus artists, a chosen Fluxus family tree of sorts. Willem de Ridder on Annie’s branch of the family tree and Geoffrey Hendricks on Beth’s branch.

Throughout the book, the project-related texts give great insights into the blossoming of the Ecosexual Position. These texts could stand alone for use in classroom or group discussions, they include: artist statements, manifestos, wedding vows, wedding homilies, how-to-guides, lyrics (by Peaches), protest chants and protest signs with slogans such as: “FUCK DON’T FRACK!”, “COMPOSTING IS SO HOT!”, DIRTY & PROUD”, “ECOSEXUALS UNITE!”. In another kind of protest, readers who are firmly against marriage will be pleased to see Barbara Carrellas’s Top Ten Reasons Why Marriage Should Be Abolished!!! included with the account of the Red Wedding. Furthermore, the selection of full-colour archive images, and the diagram of the “Sprinkle/Stephens Scale: How Ecosexual are you?” will also be revealing to the uninitiated.

Another section that greatly amused me is the “Ecosexual Glossary” which ends with an invitation to the reader to add to the collection. This glossary reminds me a bit of Alec Finlay’s chapter ‘From A Place-Aware Dictionary’ in the Antlers of Water anthology, but Annie and Beth’s “Dirty Words” are a newly fabricated lexicon, and certainly more tongue in cheek than Finlay’s. Traveling through the pages, there are many behind-the-scenes stories from their projects including some things that didn’t quite go according to plan, but they tell us how they rolled with it. Reading their accounts of rolling around in earth during their performances Dirty Sexecology at Bone II—A Performance Saga: Encounters with Women Pioneers of Performance Art (Bern), Dirt Bed at Emmetrop (Bourges), and their Dirty Wedding to the Soil at Donau Fest (Krems), brought the last line from Love Poem: Centaur by Donika Kelly into my head. “Love, I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth.”

It appears that Scotland is a hotbed of fertile earth for ecosexual art practice and poetry.

Rachel Plummer’s poems Titan Arum and Iris, the oldest particle physicist at CERNbreathe sexecology and “part-tickle theory” into the LGBTQIAE+ community.

Meanwhile, Kate Clayton’s glamorous performance character Pearl Compost stars in a new film Pearl & Theory Make Compost. It “is a soil-based, earthbound, intergenerational collaboration between Kate Clayton and Sophie Seita.”

Cloudberry MacLean also has a new film in post-production. In Low Rent, MacLean examines the politics of land ownership, drawing on her experience of living secretly in her community garden allotment for the duration of the pagan calendar year. Both of these films contain scenes of nude garden-frolicking, demonstrating that gardening in Scotland can be political, intellectual, glamorous, sensuous and sexy.

In November, Nosheen Khwaja showed Invocations for Love and Loss as part of the RotU Collective (en)countering crisis + re:making futures exhibition series. If you didn’t get a chance to see the RotU series, watch out for Nosheen Khwaja’s upcoming expanded version of Invocations for Love and Loss in Newcastle, 2022.

Meanwhile, Alberta Whittle, who will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale, currently has her work featured in the marvelous Sex Ecologies exhibition (and exciting MIT Press publication) at Kunsthall, Trondheim until March 9th, 2022.

This year, curators in Scotland have been programming Stephens and Sprinkle’s projects. NEoN Festival 2021, entitled Wired Women*, presented the Assuming the Ecosexual Position exhibition in both an online gallery space, and also as a public art poster installation in collaboration with Sharing Not Hoarding at Slessor Gardens in Dundee (there is a great slide show if you follow this link – Ed.). In addition, NEoN presented a screening of Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure, which included a Q&A with the filmmakers.

‘Assuming the Ecosexual Position’ posters installed on Sharing not Hoarding, Dundee. Photo: Kathryn Rattray

Earlier in the year, Glasgow Artists’ Moving Image Studios presented an outdoor screening of Goodbye Gauley Mountain with a fabulously fun short film by Emma Bowen called Feminist Economics Football: A Cooperative Game (a game created by Ailie Rutherford, Sapna Agarwal & Mandy Roberts). Feminist Economics Football highlights the “overlaps in common ground” between the 3 teams: “Decolonisation”, “Degrowth” and “Climate Activism.” It is clear by this curatorial programme that there is a recognition in Scotland that Ecosexual art & activism make a great partnership with the Feminist Economics movement!

Adding the “E” to the LGBTQIAE+ alphabet makes perfect sense to those who have felt excluded from the established environmentalist circles. Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens have created a much needed “space outside the environmental activist mainstream” where people can be themselves.

“[A] tributary alongside the mainstream where people of colour, drag kings and queens, sex workers, freaks, queers, experimental artists, punk rockers, genderqueer, trans people, and others could be part of a creative, fun, friendly, environmental justice activism community and movement together.”

In these times of compounding crises, the grief and anxiety that many people are grappling with can cause paralysing despair (or worse). This book is a reminder that there are joyful strategies for, what Donna Haraway would call, ‘staying with the trouble.’ Assuming the Ecosexual Position has the potential to encourage a wide variety of individuals (and communities) to imagine and to create hopeful possible futures.

If you missed NEoN Festival 2021, you can still see the Assuming The Ecosexual Position exhibition at Sharing Not Hoarding until January 16th, 2022.

In addition to some new vibrant artworks, the 18 installation posters feature some of the gorgeous photos, digital collages and texts from the Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover book. The place, space and surroundings of the exhibition site, including the trees, sky, park space, River Tay, rolling hills and Dundee Urban Orchard’s Edible Garden, bring additional layers of interpretation to these works. For example, from a historical context, public parks are locations in which LGBTQIAE+ communities have generated a collective sense of belonging, or even a radical mindset of ownership; whether it be in parks in Dundee, Montreal, San Francisco or Istanbul. As a former resident of Dundee, I am elated to see Stephens and Sprinkle’s uplifting, humorous, ecosexy artworks embedded next to public park space at Slessor Gardens. This installation is such a fabulous companion piece to the book. Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover is now in my selection of beloved books that I desire to return to over and over.

B. D. Owens is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Shandon, on the Gare Loch. Owens holds an MFA in Art, Society & Publics from DJCAD, University of Dundee, and a BFA in Sculpture from Concordia University, Montreal. Since 2012 he has shown his artwork internationally; including in festivals such as MIX NYC, NEoN Festival and Ars Electronica. His writing has been published in We Were Always Here: A Queer Words AnthologyNew Writing Scotland: Talking About Lobsterseco/art/scot/landMedia-N: The Journal of the New Media Caucus; and Bella Caledonia. He serves on the Executive of the Scottish Artists Union. 

For their 2021 festival programme, NEoN Digital Arts commissioned B. D. Owens and layla-roxanne hill to write a collaborative think piece, titled Bread, Roses, Coal, Water and the Ecosexual Position which is published by Bella Caledonia.

(Top image: Photo credit Julian Cash and Design Credit Sandra Friesen)

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

Powered by WPeMatico

Statement from Culture Declares Emergency on COP26

We are reproducing the Statement issued 7th October 2021 by Culture Declares in full. ecoartscotland fully supports this statement. We call on arts institutions, particularly the Boards and senior managements, to fully engage with the Culture Declares ‘call to action’. 

October 7, 2021

Statement from Culture Declares Emergency on COP26  


  • We are a growing movement of individuals and organisations in the Culture sector who have declared a climate and ecological emergency. 
  • COP26 is based on the Paris Agreement, which offers an inadequate trajectory to stabilise the climate. Most nations, including our host nation, are not even on course to keep to the Paris Agreement path. 
  • The worsening Earth crisis, both ecological damage and climate impacts, is shocking scientists and causing suffering, particularly for Most Affected Peoples and Areas.
  • In light of these failures in the face of the worsening Earth crisis, we make two urgent calls to politicians and policy-makers, and to the Culture sector.
  • We draw attention to the role of Culture: we invite politicians/policy-makers to collaborate with the Cultural sector to stimulate imagination, to generate ideas for innovation and to engage with communities. 
  • We invite Culture sector workers to join us in declaring emergency, and to make work and action plans that reach beyond COP26 to stir radical imagination and systemic change. 


We are a movement of arts and culture sector workers and organisations, mostly based in the UK, who have come together to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency. This is a statement about COP26 from those active in the working groups of Culture Declares. 

We are in a time when six of nine planetary boundaries have been breached, and most of the control variables for the boundaries are moving away from the safe operating space. We have declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, so we are taking and calling for action across all interconnected environmental issues, including biosphere degradation. Our attention this Autumn is on two international initiatives: COP15 on Biodiversity and COP26.

While the Biodiversity summit is vital, Climate Change is the most serious boundary because of its impacts across the whole Earth system and humanity. The intensity and scale of the extreme heat in America and floods in Europe have shocked climate scientists, who did not expect records to be broken this much, over such a wide area or this soon. Tipping points are being reached. For example, the Amazon rainforest now emits more CO2 than it absorbs. 

COP26, hosted by the UK in November 2021, aims to continue holding nations to account to their Paris Agreement promises, but most nations’ plans are inadequate to stabilise the temperature increase between 1.5C and 2C. The target of 2C has been wrongly seen by some as an upper safe limit and it now appears that 1.5C is not safe either, based on the intersecting impacts unfolding now at 1.2C. 

The Paris Agreement was based on the IPCC 5th Assessment which had been watered down due to pressure from high emitting nations. The actions from the Agreement are in no way adequate to mitigate or adapt to the emerging climate catastrophe in ways that will bring justice for Most Affected People and Areas. The latest evidence suggests that the Paris targets will be insufficient to prevent a Hothouse Earth pathway as impacts are ‘baked in’ from historic emissions and the most likely trajectories of mitigation. The leaked IPCC 6th Assessment report from Working Group II due in early 2022 predicts a ferocious century of climate impacts, particularly in poor countries. 

COP26 aims to hold nations to the ‘ratchet mechanism’, increasing their contributions to reduce emissions. However, ambitions to increase action will be harmed by the example of the host, the UK Government, which is not even meeting its existing promises. Also, the UK Government has cut foreign aid by £4 billion, leaving people to starve who are most affected by climate impacts and conflict in places such as Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Congo. 

In light of these failures in the face of the worsening Earth crisis, we make the following urgent calls: 

To politicians and policy-makers:

  • We call for sustained and ramped up action to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency across nations, regions and sectors. This action must be greater than any plans set for COP26 and pledges based on the Paris Agreement. 
  • The Emergency, which includes the risk of pandemics like COVID-19, should be at the heart of all your thinking, at every level. This requires injections of imagination about how harmful systems and embedded inequalities can change for the better. 
  • We invite you to collaborate with the Cultural sector to stimulate this imagination, to generate ideas for innovation and to engage with communities. 

To people working in the Cultural sector*: 

  • We invite you to join us in declaring emergency if you haven’t already, and to pursue pathways that tell the truth, take action in your practice and communities, and seek global justice and decolonisation. 
  • We invite you to go beyond creating events or art to be seen and heard due to the spotlight of COP26, instead forging your own spotlights that illuminate the systemic issues that matter to you and your communities, and to make plans to keep these issues shining into the future as challenges unfold. 
  • Consider your role beyond COP26 to help people cope with grief after its inevitable failure. 

*We interpret the Cultural sector extremely broadly, to include arts, design, heritage, and personal & community creativity. 


About Culture Declares Emergency 

We are a growing movement of individuals and organisations involved in art and culture. We declare this is a Climate and Ecological Emergency and we pledge to tell truths, take action and seek justice. Launched in April 2019, we were the first sector to form a declarer’s movement, inspired by local governments’ emergency declarations. Based in the UK, but collaborating internationally, we offer community and resources to ensure that sustained action follows a declaration. 

Please contact us on to discuss this statement, or other aspects of our work. 

Find out how to declare and get involved in the community 

Some creative initiatives by declarers and friends of our movement that you can get involved with include:

  • Paint the Land: In the months leading up to COP26, Writers Rebel’s Paint the Land project is teaming a handful of high-profile writers with well-loved visual artists to create landscape graffitos with a powerful ecological message. This will take the form of striking words “painted” on natural outdoor canvases.  
  • Letters to the Earth: In collaboration with The Climate Coalition and Listening to the Land (a 500 mile pilgrimage to Glasgow), Letters to the Earth is hosting creative workshops as part of a series of nationwide community interventions to collect people’s fears and hopes for the future, in the run up to COP26. 
  • Culture Takes Action: We are amplifying the actions that declarers are taking, using #CultureTakesAction and, in the run of to COP26, also #CultureCOP26. If you’d like your action or project to be shared on social media, or perhaps at one of our online events, please complete this form: 

See more actions & artworks for COP26 by declarers here.

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 Research, Gray’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

Powered by WPeMatico

occasional papers #5 WetlandLIFE

Perceptions of wetlands vary considerably – from disease-ridden ‘swamps’ that should be drained for farmland or housing, to wildlife havens generating local employment and enjoyment for thousands of visitors. Meanwhile, the mosquitoes that live in them are typically seen as a nuisance with no useful purpose – few people champion them for their aesthetic or intrinsic value, and their contribution to the resilience of wetland ecosystems remains largely unrecognised.


ecoartscotland published a number of articles on WetlandLIFE and the project’s work with artists Victoria Leslie, Kerry Morrison and Helmut Lemke during 2017 and 2018, including pieces from the artists as well as from other team members including Principal Investigator Tim Acott, Dave Edwards of Forest Research, and Adriana Ford.

The WetlandLIFE project focused on the multiple values of wetlands. It was part of Valuing Nature Programme which set out “…to improve understanding of the value of nature both in economic and non-economic terms, and improve the use of these valuations in decision making.”

WetlandLIFE and the contribution of artists came under scrutiny in a workshop organised by the Art and Artists in Environmental and Landscape Research Today(AALERT) as part of the AALERT4DM project

We have put together all the articles published on ecoartscotland as an issue of our series of occasional papers. We’ve also added Chris Fremantle’s piece for The Nature of Cities which provides a wider context of artists working with wetlands highlighting examples relevant to the major challenges identified by the Ramsar Conventionincluding pollution, biodiversity loss and urban development.

Download the collected articles here.

(Top photo: Tim Acott, Linear Landscape: South Swale Nature Reserve, Kent. From the photoessay ‘Wetlands, Wonder and Place‘. With permission.)


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 Research, Gray’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

Powered by WPeMatico

Ecosystem Services and Gaelic report published Pt2

The intersection of the cultural and the ecological highlighted in the previous post, including the ways that artists and cultural practitioners engage with cultural dimensions of biodiversity, in this case manifest in language, engages the cultural sector directly with understanding and articulating ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services and the associated assessments provide a critical method used across environmental research and management. Too often the cultural dimension has been focused by tourism and the role of the arts and culture in opening up understandings of ecosystems has been overlooked.

Dave Pritchard contextualised the Ecosystem Services and the Gaelic language report(NatureScot 2021) in relation to wider policy work being done by different bodies. In terms of language and ecosystems, he highlights:

The cultural services chapter of the status & trends volume of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment places languages in the ecosystem services context – .

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment produced an excellent report on cultural services . It combines linguistics in the sense of vocabularies with linguistics in the sense of distinct languages.

In the wider context of language as part of intangible cultural heritage, Dave highlights:

The United Nations 2003 ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’.

There has been specific work to highlight the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development (publication in English here other languages also available). UNESCO have developed an interactive interface highlighting the connections between specific exemplary intangible heritage including dance, rituals, festivals and other forms, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity have joint programme and have identified a range of resources including publications on cultural and spiritual values of biodiversity. There is more information on the programme here

According to Dave, internationally the pre-eminent organisation is Terralingua which promotes understanding and appreciation of the vital value of the world’s biocultural diversity for the thriving of all life on earth.— the diversity of life in nature and culture.

There is also the International Ecolinguistics Association, and its journal Language & Ecology – .

In a Scottish specific context he highlighted Museums Galleries Scotland’s report ‘Scoping and Mapping Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland Final Report (PDF)‘ from 2008 (which is on the website of the Fair Scotland, celebrating Scotland’s Show People).

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 Research, Gray’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

Powered by WPeMatico

Walking Publics/Walking Arts: walking, wellbeing and community during Covid-19

Dee Heddon asked us to share this, and to encourage participation in the research through completing the survey (below). Walking is an everyday activity (more so since the shops have been closed) and also an approach used by artists, whether as part of a social or solo practice, to create personal work or as part of larger projects. Rebecca Solnit says in Wanderlust, “Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.”

Anecdotes and data alike suggest that during the past year of COVID-19, people have walked more and, when restrictions were in place, such walking was necessarily hyper-local (within a 1-mile radius) or local (with a 5-mile radius). This certainly resembles my experience. I’ve lived in Glasgow for most of my adult life, moving here to attend University at the age of 17, spending a relatively brief 7-years in Devon, and returning in 2006. I’ve only ever lived in the west of the city (Maryhill, Partick, Kelvinbridge, and Hillhead). I thought I knew this area like the back of my hand. This year has taught me that, in fact, I knew very little. As well as walking familiar routes, sometimes daily (Botanic Gardens, River Kelvin), the restrictions also prompted me to do lots of urban drifting, traversing streets not yet walked, finding new (to me) cobbled lanes and mews houses, modern builds tucked around corners and down dead ends, residents’ gardens dotted across the urban landscape, and hidden alleyways. The west end of Glasgow is much more than tenement flats. I’ve also extended my pedestrian reach to new parks, including Dawsholm and Ruchhill, the first home to astounding old woods inhabited by parakeets, the second to the largest daffodil display in Glasgow and resident woodpeckers. I’ve been quite astounded by the city that’s surfaced from beneath my feet.

Walking and Covid research project / University of Glasgow Photograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572 457000 Â© Martin Shields

Since 2010 I’ve been following, writing about and practicing walking as a cultural practice, first by interviewing women artists about their walking work and secondly by launching my own creative walking projects (40 Walks and The Walking Library). Now I embark on a new venture: exploring people’s experiences of walking during COVID-19, with a particular focus on felt experiences and the intersection of walking and creativity. At a time when restrictions have kept us physically distanced, the well-placed coloured stones or chalked messages seem to have been deployed artfully to keep us socially connected, and to keep our walking joyful and engaged. There are a lot of artists in the UK who identify as “Walking Artists”, and many of them have continued to create walking work this year, adapting their practice to the new landscapes within which we find ourselves. A brief scan also suggests that some artists have turned to walking as a new material for their creative practice, something that can still connect, can be convivial or restorative or attentive, and be undertaken safely. 

‘Walking Publics/Walking Arts: walking, wellbeing and community during Covid-19’ is an 18-month research project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. We are exploring the potential of the arts to sustain, encourage and more equitably support walking during and recovering from a pandemic. You can find out more at 

We’ve launched the project with two surveys about walking during COVID-19, one for the general public and one for artists who have used walking in their practice.

The aim of our research is to understand more about how creative practices can be used to support more people to walk well, during and out of a pandemic. We look forward to sharing our findings, but to help us please do complete one of our surveys. 

Dee Heddon is Professor of Contemporary Performance at the University of Glasgow(UK). She is a practice-based researcher and has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as academic monographs and book-chapters. She is well known for her interest in autobiographical performance, site-specific performance and walking art.

(Top photo: Dee Heddon / University of Glasgow Photograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572 457000 © Martin Shields)

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 Research, Gray’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

Powered by WPeMatico

Ecosystems Services and Gaelic Report published

NatureScot recently published a report on the relevance of Gaelic language, place names, literature and song, tradition and folklore to assessing ecosystem services. This is a very significant development in approaching ecosystem service assessment through a cultural lens, understanding that culture is not just tourism and beauty spots, but is the articulation of values, uses and meanings.

The Gaelic heritage of Scotland, despite being largely ignored by authorities and academics concerned with land and marine management, has much to offer those who seek to analyse how Scottish ecosystems might, and do, provide services to the population of the country and beyond. The Gaelic language, and its attendant culture and heritage give a unique and informative window on the landscape and natural ecosystems, and human interactions with both, in the Scottish Highlands, over a very long period, and therefore possess relevance for the Scottish people’s collective view of their land and its management, now and in the future. In this scoping report, the author explores Gaelic toponymy, literature and oral tradition, as they impinge upon Ecosystem Services, and makes twenty recommendations for future, detailed research on these issues


The next challenge is to explore how contemporary artists are involved in this. Artists across every artform as well as designers are engaged in the cultural ways of understanding ecosystems. Prof Murdo Macdonald explored Gaelic, colour and the indigenous plant life of Scotland in a paper given to the Black Wood of Rannoch Workshop, Kinloch Rannoch, 22 November 2013 organised by Collins and Goto working with Forest Research.

He concludes saying, 

To use another phrase from Gregory Bateson, ‘mind and nature’, what I have argued here is that, whether one looks at the Gaelic alphabet with its botanical references, or the landscape subtlety of Gaelic colour words, the Gaelic language facilitates the understanding of ‘mind and nature’ as integral to one another.


image from Alec Finlay/Gathering website

One example is poet and visual artist Alec Finlay – his work Gathering is just one example. 

Gathering is an innovative mapping of the Highland landscape in poems, essays, photographs, and maps, conceived by Scottish artist and poet Alec Finlay. The work guides the reader to modest and forgotten places in this complex region.

Finlay worked from Adam Watson’s published collection of names, one of the most significant modern contributions to Scottish folk-culture consisting of over 7,000 local place-names, covering every ruined farm, shieling, hill, glen, spring, burn, and wood in the region. Over a period of years, Finlay expanded Watson’s catalogue into a generous ‘ecopoetic’ and ‘place-aware’ account of the Cairngorms, accompanied by photographs showing the hills in all their seasonal variety. Essays guide the reader to names that reveal the haunts of wolves and wildcats, and cast a vivid impression of the great pinewoods that once grew there, and may again.


screenshot from Mapping the Sea website

Another is Stephen Hurrel and Dr Ruth Brennan’s Mapping the Sea project which also focuses on place names and the seascape.

The idea of a dynamic map – to reflect intergenerational knowledge, fishermen’s ways of knowing the sea and the intangible cultural heritage* of the marine environment – had been discussed by Brennan and MacKinnon, and Hurrel proposed the idea of an interactive digital map. This was subsequently developed by Hurrel and Brennan as a way of bringing to life, and making visible, what is often invisible to most people.


There are many other examples of these approaches which need to inform ecosystem service assessment processes.


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

Powered by WPeMatico