Nature Artists

Reflections on CO2 Edenburgh from Creative Carbon Scotland

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Project Summary

CO2 Edenburgh arose out of the opportunity to collaborate with ecoartscotland, Art Space Nature, artists Tim Collins and Reiko Goto and programming professional Chris Malcolm on an exhibition in the ECA Tent Gallery during the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013. Broadly the project sought to uncover the invisible effects of Edinburgh’s festivals on the city’s CO2 levels, engaging audiences in local CO2 levels affected by various factors; topography of the city, traffic, audiences breathing out, green spaces etc. The project used cutting edge technology to capture CO2 levels provided by two Scotland-based companies, Gas Sensing Solutions and Envirologger.

What did we do?

For the duration of the exhibition Creative Carbon Scotland moved their office to the Tent Gallery to invigilate the exhibition and make the most of the public presence of CCS during the festival.

The project consisted of four main elements:

  • The Tent Gallery exhibition with real-time data displays for stationary CO2 monitors placed in various outdoor locations including Princes St Gardens and Arthur’s Seat and indoor venues such as Fruitmarket Gallery and National Gallery of Scotland
  • Guided tours of the city with portable CO2 sensors and LED displays led by Carbon Catchers Catriona Patterson and Dave Young
  • Four discussions curated by ecoartscotland asking the question – Can art change the climate?
  • An online blog and summary of discussions.

What did we achieve?

Having reflected upon the project, we feel that one of the key achievements has been to establish CCS as a more public-facing organisation as well as rooting the organisation more firmly in the space of arts and sustainability. We feel the discussions were a big success, serving as an important platform for bringing together individuals and organisations in our area of work and binding the different elements of the project through the exploration of some key themes.

Here are some key points from the discussions

Discussion 1: Bringing the emotion of the arts to bear on the rigour of the sciences

  • Harry Giles made the point that much of what artists and scientists do is the same and they are comparable in their ‘making sense of the insensible’. CO2 Edenburgh was considered in terms of finding a new aesthetic for new experiences such as invisible rising CO2 levels.
  • It was discussed that there is currently a lack of feedback loop particularly in cities which serves to make us aware of the environmental consequences of our actions. Artists can therefore play a role in making these consequences more visible.

Discussion 2: Art, technology, activism and knowledge in the age of climate change

  • Wallace Heim referenced Alan Badiou for whom there are four critical kinds of event which change people – love, politics, art and science. Amongst these art can create the conditions which change our perception of reality and cause us to change our behaviour.
  • Architect Simon Beeson raised the point that CO2 isn’t in itself ‘bad’. In fact it’s only the release of currently fossilised carbon into the atmosphere as CO2 that is a problem. Carbon and CO2 is what we and allof the living world is made out of. CO2 Edenburgh allows us to perceive the complexity of the pattern of CO2 in central Edinburgh.
  • We also discussed the need to be clear about the distinctive contribution artists can make to social and environmental issues without falling into categories such as communicators of science or public engagement.

Discussion 3: Environmental monitoring: Tracking nature in pursuit of aesthetic inter-relationship?

  • Prof Andrew Patrizio took Renaissance Florence as an example of a time at which artists and audiences were attuned to a similar mercantile approach to understanding the form and content of a work of art. Parallels were drawn between Renaissance Italy and now – both times at which paradigm shifts were taking place in terms of how humans understood themselves in relation to the environment.
  • Jan Hogarth provided the example of Dumfries and Galloway as an exciting new region for the links between arts and policy making. Its rural setting allows for a particular proximity between artists, local authorities and organisations such as the Forestry Commission and therefore a stronger influencing role on the part of artists and arts organisations.

Discussion 4: Going beyond the material: Environment and Invisible Forces in the literary, performing and visual arts

  • Lucy Miu opened a discussion about how information + insight or emotion can help engage people more than information alone and may be able to help transmit the essence of something to those who weren’t able to experience it directly. She touched upon the fact that performing arts events are invariably group events, whilst visual art can be experienced more solitarily.
  • We also discussed the idea that in the performing arts and literature the ‘work of art’ is less concrete, existing in the ether between performer and audience or in the mind of the reader and not wholly contained in the reproduction of the words – as demonstrated by the breadth of ways in which literary works are transmitted, from the e-reader to the audio book.
  • Sam Clark noted that scientists working on matter connect the visible and the invisible, just like artists connecting the knowable and the ineffable. But whilst scientists aim to make the strange familiar, perhaps artists’ desire is to do the opposite and make the familiar strange…

The post Blog: Reflections on CO2 Edenburgh appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Nurturing Nature: Artists Engage the Environment

This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

Nurturing Nature opened on February 10th, 2011 and runs through April 16th at OSilas Gallery on the campus of Concordia College in Bronxville NY.


Artists in the exhibition include: Eva Bakkeslett, Norway; Vaughn Bell, Seattle; Susan Benarcik, NYC; Michele Brody, NYC; Jackie Brookner NYC; Linda Bryne NYC; Xavier Cortada, Miami FL; Sonja Hinrichsen, Germany; Basia Irland, CO; William Meyer, Westchester, NY; Maria Michails, NYC; Roy Staab WI; Joel Tauber, CA.


Curated by Amy Lipton, ecoartspace and Patricia Miranda, Director OSilas Gallery

Concordia opened 130 years ago as a small Lutheran College. SInce then it has grown from a pre-seminary religious training school to a liberal arts college welcoming students of all faiths. OSilas Gallery Director Patricia Miranda invited me to curate an exhibition on art and the environment. In keeping with the college’s history, we decided the show would include a focus on various spiritual or ethical traditions in relationship to our care of the planet, what Christianity terms Stewardship, Tikkun Olam or repair the world in Judaism and Compassion for all living beings in Buddhism. Images and knowledge of nature can all be found in all ancient spiritual traditions, as well as Biblical and medieval mystical texts and pagan rituals which involve sun and moon cycles, star formations, tides, seasons, animals, gardens and plants. The artists in this exhibition are working with transformative approaches and processes towards a new vision that is ecological, and participates with the living cycles of nature.




The works cover a range of sensibilities and formal styles and address various issues including solar energy, suburban sprawl, species decline, food, agriculture, recycling, water purification and plants for restoration. What all these artists have in common a desire to to bridge the gap between art and life by raising an appreciation of the natural world and by working in a collaborative process with nature. Many of the artists work in an interdisciplinary basis with scientists, botanists and biologists and also participate in community based educational projects where they engage with the public.


Linda Byrne ‘s sculptural installation titled Ghost Net resembles a giant fishing net. Her material (the ubiquitous and life-threatening to marine life), 6-pack plastic ring, tells a tale of our vanishing natural world. She cut and tied the uniform, machine-made rings into strands and, with repetitive action, wove them into a linear shape. Subject, concept, and material coalesce to examine the uneasy relationship that exists between nature and synthetics. Also included are 6 of Byrne’s large scale drawings based on the forms of fishing nets. The series are devoid of color to express the lifeless nets left behind by our ailing fisheries and polluted coastal waters.


Susan Benarcik takes elemental forms of the natural and man made world into her studio and carefully transforms them by stacking, stringing, layering, knotting, and weaving them into dimensional sculpture for public and private spaces. Simple materials become contemplative compositions as they evidence a fondness and respect for the natural world and bring equilibrium to our senses by allowing the nature to become part of our daily cognitive experience. Her work for Nurturing Nature is titled Why Our Hangers made from wire clothes hangers, and string. These materials dictated the final form, which resemble chrysalis, wombs, or droplets, forms that are unique to essential natural processes.

The essence of Michele Brody‘s work is to understand how we live with change and the constant flux of our environment. She invites the viewer to a more openness of sensation through the production of ephemeral installations and living sculptures. Her work titled Grass Skirt Sentinels, use materials including copper pipe, fabric, light, grass seed and water, and are sustainable sculptures that support the growth of plants. During the course of the exhibition the works will transform as they go through a full life life cycle with the use of unique lighting


and a water irrigation system.



Alchemy – The Poetics of Bread by Eva Bakeslett is a beautifully executed and lyrical film about a n activity once ubiquitous in almost every household. Eva is the both the maker and the baker of Alchemy and was brought up in Arctic Norway where baking bread is still common in many homes. Her rhythmical movements and confident touch is rooted to generations of woman baking their bread. The timeless beauty of the process brings baking into the realm of poetry and the art that goes beyond the walls of the gallery and onto our kitchen tables.


Roy Staab is a nomadic artist who has been traveling around the world to make art installations in nature for the past thirty years. His earth-sensitive site-specific works use locally available materials and result in ephemeral earthworks that eventually devolve back into nature. The works can last for days or weeks depending on weather conditions and forces of nature. Since 1979 he has been documenting these works with his own camera immediately upon finishing them. Included in Nuturing Nature are two of Staab’s large scale photographs. Baleen was made in the Northwest Harbor in Gardiner’s Bay (Eastern L.I.) off the Atlantic. Big Round pictured here was created in Denmark in summer of 2008 for a group exhibition on Marbaek Beach near Esbjerg. Staab spends the first few days at the site, studying the landscape and watching the changes of light over the course of the day. When the tide came in he walked along the beach and found a sand-dollar fossil. With that in mind the next morning he walked up the river estuary and found a small bay off the shore in an open area. Using the sand dollar design as inspiration he made the five rays of the fossil and then started to walk around and around in a pattern of his foot steps using his eye for measurement. 












Taking the form of a running rickshaw, William Meyers’ Green Rickshaw Project highlights what individuals, businesses and municipalities are doing towards creating sustainability in Westchester County NY. The Green Rickshaw builds a community of its own as it conceptually and physically navigates between actions being taken by organic farmers, locally made products, municipal sustainability initiatives, and home energy audits. Components of the Green Rickshaw include a rickshaw chassis fabricated from recycled bicycle parts, a steel kiosk, reclaimed oak ‘pulls’, zero formaldehyde birch plywood, bamboo flooring, flexible solar panels, a green roof module, a traveling library, and a cell phone recharge station.





Nurturing Nature includes 180 pencil drawings by Xavier Cortada for the first time presented in their entirety Endangered World: LifeWall. In 2009, Cortada created drawings of the 180 Endangered World animals struggling to survive on our planet’s eastern hemisphere and, as a performative work, assumed the identity of the animal by uploading those images online as self-portraits on his facebook profile photo.


A second installation by Cortada titled Reclamation Project includes 180 Atlantic Cedar saplings in clear, water-filled cups arranged in a grid on the gallery windows and mirroring the 180 drawings in the Endangered World Project. The saplings are up for adoption, visitors can sign up to take home an Atlantic White Cedar tree for their yard or neighborhood at the end of the exhibition.


Maria MichailsThe Handcar Projects are a series of works revolving around issues of industrial agriculture, topsoil erosion and biofuel. The handcar reflects on the history of the train and its impact on economic and urban growth and explores the artist’s interest in energy generating mechanisms in the form of a mode of transportation. On the wall behind the Handcar are a series of small plexiglass houses covered in photographic images of corn. Titled, Off the Grid they reflect the competing economic factors on land use exerted by population growth and urban expansion. The small houses in Off the Grid question the ubiquitous use of this raw material and raise the question of whether we use precious land to feed ourselves, house ourselves or fuel ourselves?




Sonja Hinrichsen has 3 video works/ perfomances of ephemeral works created in nature. In Sun/Moon an environmental installation/performance piece from Wyoming, 2008 the artist chose an open plain to perform a ritual, positioning rocks, one by one, to draw an ancient symbol that has been used by indigenous cultures throughout the world, to represent the sun – as well as the moon. The rocks were coated with a phosphorescent material and glowed for several hours after sunset.

For Paradise Tree, an environmental intervention in Spain, (Sept. 2008), Hinrinchsen tried to find words reflecting what she saw, heard, smelled and experienced and then embroidered these words onto the leaves of a fruit- bearing fig tree.The slow, meditative act of embroidering became a performance, commemorating myths of Moorish times telling of beautiful young women who, while being kept at home, were dreaming of passion and adventure.

Vaughn Bell’s sculptures Personal Biospheres explore the miniaturization of landscape, the separation of one piece of “land” from the whole, and the relationship of care and control that this embodies. A tiny mountain or a small piece of land is suddenly within the scale of the human body, implying a different relationship than the one of awe, alienation or domination that is present in many encounters with our surroundings.


Jackie Brookner has been making sculptural tongues out of soil called Biosculpturesâ„¢ since 1992. These works are vegetated water filtration systems that create destinations, restore urban habitat, and reclaim the undervalued resources of stormwater and other polluted water. Early versions of these evolved into soil chairs, where earth can embrace the whole body. “The tongue is a provocative image because it is a part of our selves where our physical and mental functions come together–a place where taste, sex and speech meet–where the dualism of mind and body clearly breaks down”.


Basia Irland‘s A Gathering of Waters: Boulder Creek, Continental Divide to Confluence was created for Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, curated by Lucy Lippard for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007. The Backpack/Repository, suspended from beaver-cut aspen, is constructed from recycled truck inner tubes. Objects from the four-month long project contained within the Backpack/Repository include the Logbook, Canteen, video documentary, forty-seven water samples (one for each mile of the creek), watershed maps, and two images of Arapaho Glacier. The Glacier provides most of Boulder’s drinking water, so when it has melted away, where will the residents of this Colorado community obtain their water? This question prompted the artist to create a 250-pound, hand-carved ice book embedded with native riparian seeds – Columbine, Blue Spruce, and Mountain Maple. This ‘ecological text’ is released asthe ice melts in the current. Irland worked with stream ecologists, river restoration biologists, and botanists to determine the best seeds. When the seeds regenerate and begin to grow along the river, they help with restoration efforts by building the soil, holding banks in place, and stopping erosion.




A beautiful and forlorn tree, stuck in the middle of a giant parking lot. Ignored and neglected. Hit by cars, and starved for water and oxygen. Joel Tauber, a young and amorous man, is drawn to the tree. Outraged by the indignities that the tree is forced to endure, he devotes himself to improving the tree’s life – watering it with giant water bags, installing tree guards to protect it from cars, building giant earrings to celebrate its beauty, lobbying to remove the asphalt beneath its canopy and to protect it with a ring of boulders, and helping the tree reproduce. Sick-Amour functions as a microcosm of the plight of urban trees and of forgotten individuals in general. Sick-Amour culminated as 3 distinct artistic entities: a 12-channel video tree sculpture, a public art project comprised of approximately 150 “tree baby” plantings throughout California, and a 33-minute hybrid love story / documentary film.



Images top to bottom: Installation view with Grass Skirt Sentinels by Michele Brody; Grass Skirt Sentinel by Michele Brody; Why Our Hangers by Susan Benarcik; Big Round by Roy Staab; Green Rickshaw by William Meyers; Endangered World by Xavier Cortada; The Hand Car Project and Off the Grid by Maria Michaels; still from Paradise Tree by Sonja Hinrichsen; Biosphere by Vaughn Bell; and A Gathering of the Waters: Boulder Creek by Basia Irland. For further info please see the website for OSilas Gallery.







ecoartapace is one of the leading international organizations in a growing community of artists, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational. Our philosophy embodies a broader concept of art in its relationship to the world and seeks to connect human beings aesthetically with the awareness of larger ecological systems.

Founded in 1997 by Tricia Watts as an art and nature center in development, ecoartspace was one of the first websites online dedicated to art and environmental issues. New York City curator Amy Lipton joined Watts in 1999, and together they have curated numerous exhibitions, participated on panels, given lectures at universities, developed programs and curricula, ad written essays for publications from both the East and West Coasts. They advocate for international artists whose projects range from scientifically based ecological restoration to product based functional artworks, from temporal works created outdoors with nature to eco-social interventions in the urban public sphere, as well as more traditional art objects.

ecoartspace has been a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in
Los Angeles since 1999.

Go to EcoArtSpace

Nature and Peace at Geumgang Nature Art Biennale by guest blogger Anke Mellin

Geumgang Nature Art Biennale was first held in 2004 and again in 2006 and 2008. This year it is titled “Nature and Peace.” Yatoo was founded almost 30 years ago in Gongju, in the Chungnam Province, 150 km south-west of Seoul. Yatoo, is the name of the Korean Nature Artists Association which organizes the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale and means “Thrown into the field”. The Korean artists use the term “thrown into field,” because, as Koreans, they feel the responsibility for nature is theirs. Why? Korea is a unique country in many ways. As a technically advanced society, it lives collectively in respect for ancient culture and nature. It requires individuals to responsibly share their experiences abroad, to learn from other cultures how to honor nature because many countries have this problem now. This has resulted in Korea being one of the largest Land Art or Nature Art centers in the world.

Within the exhibition’s title, and the rhetoric of the artworks is a reflection of how people could behave so as not to discourage or disrupt other species, the way they have discouraged swallows. How can one live in harmony with the whole of nature? Art gives us advice in finding answers to this sticky question. Trees, water, light, sound and even wind become a part of the artist‘s installations. They will be standing on site for some time and the site will change its form and structure with help form nature itself. The whole process can be observed in the park and at the Geumgang riverbank throughout the year.

The combined rich and diverse histories of this year’s participants guarantees a high level of quality work. We have 15 artists from 13 different countries: Ghana, Cameroon, India, Poland, USA, Germany, Peru, Philippines, Netherlands, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Hungary, Bulgaria and Japan, and 12 artists from the host country, South Korea. The character of each creator’s piece is shaped by the unique culture, history and geography of his or her country of origin. Each piece is also marked by the artist’s specific relationship to nature. It is not surprising that the installations differ from each other to such an extent.

Nereus Patrick Cheo, Cameroon (above), was inspired by debris washed up onto the beach by the Atlantic to create “The Watch Tower Kiosk.” He used found plastic water, beer and soft-drink bottles to make an open structure which talks about a worldwide problem: A great majority of the world’s population consume water and drinks from these bottles but at least half of these bottles are never recycled. His project entailed the construction of a Kiosk-like shape 5m high and 3 x 4m wide. The kiosk is a dome shaped sculpture beautifully created from used bottles woven together with wire on a base of bamboo, wood and nails. Utilising the bottles as an artistic statement, he has given them a new life.The work offers an opportunity for attention, care and open vistas for reflection on how we interact with our environment.

For Roger Tibon, Philippines (above), the watchwords “nature and peace” are a metaphors for a journey uniquely associated with the boat. This is not surprising considering that the Philippines are comprised of more than seven thousand islands. Many of them are inhabited by people who have never left them, and often travel by boat. The boats are more than just a way of movement and communication for them. The boat, with three figures on it, has been installed hanging under one of the cities bridges enabling many people travel over this traveling symbol. Of course the real contemplation begins when we reach a beautiful riverbank and silently, listening to sound of the water and gaze at the sculpture from a distance.

New Zealand artist, Donald Buglass’ Cell (above), relies on the beauty of physics to hold itself up. Cut sections of tree trunk support each other and demonstrate a link between the constructive tendencies of humans and the environment. “Cell” represents the beauty and balance of nature. It is the cells of plants, nucleus of an atom or, perhaps, the rising sun. At the same time it portrays a fundamental shape for shelter (in this case, one we are excluded from) and the peace and security that this might otherwise offer us. His work also has underlying references to the ancient graves at Yeonmisan.

Karen Macher Nesta (above), Peru, is an artist who believes in specific interaction between mother earth and Her inhabitants. In the ancient beliefs of her country, the land must be respected. Consequently people offer gifts to nature: fruit, animal blood, coca leaves etc., asking Her to be more fertile and calm. Earthquakes are also in her nature, and if it comes to this kind of disaster it means that She is angry. The artist used rabbits as a symbol of fertility because of their fast reproduction capacity. The rabbit figures were made from clay, and were designed to last for a short period of time in order to return to the earth where they came from (some cement has been added to extend this period). Over thirty larger-than-life rabbits are located around main path in the Ecological Park. The rabbits will eventually disappear and be absorbed into the forest floor.

The work of Pawel Chlebek Odebek, Poland, refers to central values such as family, love and care. In “The New Generation” (above) the artist points out the mystery of new life and implies its dependence on our care. The art-work is a pine sapling planted in soil between the two large opposing torsos, male and female. Eventually the project will result in the interaction between the carved form and nature’s power (as the growing tree trunk expands). Time is co-creator of this piece.

For these artists, nature and peace are much more than just words.


Organizer – Korean Nature Artist Association Yatoo (established 1981)

The year of the first Nature Art Biennale – 2004

Term of exhibition – three months, from 16th September until 15th November 2010

2010 Participants:

Korean: Chunchung Kang, Heejoon Kang, Hyunhie Ko, Soonim Kim, Yongik Kim, Haesim Kim, Bongi Park, Seunghoon Byun, Seunggu Ryu, Eungwoo Ri, Chungyeon Cho, Kang Hur

International: Chintan Upadhyay (India), Donald Buglass (New Zealand), Eizo Sakata (Japan/France), Ichi Ikeda (Japan), Karen Macher Nesta (Peru), Karin van der Molen (Netherlands), Nereus Patrick Cheo (Cameroon), Patrick Tagoe-Turkson (Ghana), Pawel Chlebek Odebek (Poland), Roger Tibon (Philippines), Ryszard Litwiniuk (Canada/Poland), Suzy Sureck (USA), Toni Schaller (Germany), Sandor Vass (Hungary)

The full article will be published in the upcoming second issue of WEAD magazine online soon HERE.