Yearly Archives: 2017

Open Call: Inner Nature, Against the Tide 2017/18


until April 30th, 2017

1. Open call

In its third edition, INNER NATURE EXHIBITION has consolidated its reputation as an independent international exhibition about art, ecology and contemplation. Its interdisciplinary and decentralized vocation transcends the conventional form of audiovisual festivals to include other strategies for mobilizing and connecting very different territories around the world.

The intention is to contribute to a critical cultural movement that can help, through eco-social commitment, to create awareness and to invite collective participation. The first two editions of the exhibition took place in different art spaces in Spain, France, Finland, USA and Chile. Starting from this year, the show becomes biannual with the aim of widening and strengthening the interaction among all the art centers adhering to INNER NATURE NETWORK.

2. Theme

The third edition will revolve around the theme of water, an essential element for life. Water cycles and availability have been drastically modified by the effects of climate change and pollution, two anthropogenic phenomena that, among others, are causing alterations of ecosystems.

Moreover, the evocative potential of water and its antithesis – the aridity of the desert – is a recurrent element in the work of artists who re-signify traditional symbols and iconography from a more contemporary perspective. Our purpose is to collect some contemporary proposals that tackle this issue through an ecological approach.

3. Participants

Artists working both individually and collectively are welcome to apply. All submissions must be original. If they contain images whose copyright belongs to other authors, the participants must meet the national legislation on copyright.

4. Format

Artists may submit video artworks in formats such as AVI, MOV, MPEG, FLV, ASF, 3GPP, with a good screening quality in order for them to be shown on different types of screens and devices. Their duration must not exceed 5 minutes.

5. Submission of works

Artworks can be submitted until April 30th, 2017 through the online application form available at:

In order to ensure anonymity and transparency in the selection process, artists have to use a pseudonym. Moreover, the works must not contain any information regarding their authors. If the author’s name were visible in the opening or closing credits, it should be covered or pixelated before the submission of the work.

Therefore, an anonymous version of the work must be uploaded to an online repository (like vimeo, youtube, etc.) where it can be viewed at the highest possible quality. Artists should not use their personal youtube or vimeo account but must create a new one in which any reference to their identity is omitted. When completing the online form, artists will include the link and -in case of a private video-  the password to view the artwork. Files directly submitted to Inner Nature e-mail address or sent on physical formats (DVDs, USB, etc.) will not be accepted.

Selected artists will be notified by e-mail and will be asked to send the original work and personal details within a period of 15 days after the notification. If the organizers do not receive any information after this deadline, the artist and his or her work will not be included in the exhibition. The file submitted in this last phase must be exactly the same as the one that was uploaded online. Any change or re-editing of the work will result in exclusion from the show.

6. Evaluation criteria

The submitted videos will undergo a pre-selection process in which the works that do not meet the minimum technical requirements for a proper display on different types of screens and devices will be excluded. Then, a panel of experts will choose the works that proceed to the final selection according to the following criteria:

– coherence with the exhibition concept

– originality and innovation of the artwork

– formal and technical quality

– meaning and conceptual strength

The final selection will be carried out by the centers hosting the travelling exhibition. The centers’ coordinators will vote in full independence according to the above-mentioned criteria. Focus on the following thematic areas will be positively valued:

– Visibilization of eco-social issues related to water: global warming, waste, ice loss in polar areas, flooding of coastal regions, pollution and overexploitation of aquifers, etc.

– New ecological transition models giving priority to basic human needs over economic and business interests.

– Innovative formulas for effective community management of water resources.

– Critical analysis of the impact of large infrastructures for water exploitation and management.

– Opportunities for critical interventions of new media technologies for alternative approaches to water management.

– Symbolic and evocative aspects related to water, exploring the potential of contemplation for fostering empathy, interdependence and environmental care.

7. Selection results

The selection results will be published on INNER NATURE´s site in July 2017. Selected artists will be notified personally by email and will be asked to send the original work and personal details within a period of 15 days after the notification. In case of shared authorship, one artist shall act as a representative of the collective that created the submitted artwork.

The selected works will be divided into two sections:

  • Official section: it includes the most appreciated and best rated artworks. The total duration of this selection will be of approximately 30 minutes.
  • Variable section: it consists of highly-appreciated videos that were not included in the official section and whose total duration does not altogether exceed 20 minutes.

In case of a technical tie between two or more videos, the team of the Polytechnic University of Valencia will decide which artwork will be included in the show.

The official section is the core of the exhibition and will be shown at all art centers participating in the project. The official selection may also include the work of an artist of international renown invited by the organizers and whose research is particularly significant in relation to the theme of the show.

In addition, partners and collaborating centers have the possibility to adapt the selection of works to their specific needs and local concerns by adding one, some, all or none of the videos belonging to the variable section. All artworks belonging to the variable section will be included in the opening of the exhibition in Valencia, and will be granted visibility through INNER NATURE website, press releases, publications, social media, etc.

8. Travelling exhibition

The selected videos will be part of collective show which is scheduled to travel to several exhibition spaces in Spain and internationally. The opening of the show will be held in Valencia (Spain) at the IVAM Museum of Contemporary Art ( in November 2017, concomitantly with the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change.

The exhibition will then travel to other places in Spain such as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Espacio Guia), Teruel (Human and Social Science Department), Salamanca (Espacio Zink), Gijón (PACA), Valencia (La Posta Foundation) and Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park (Cultura de Ribera). Furthermore, it will also be shown in other countries: at Climate, Sustainability & the arts (CSArts) at Temple University in Philadelphia (USA), at the Botanical Garden of Marnay-sur-Seine (France) and El Lobi in San Juan (Puerto Rico).

The organizers will make all the necessary effort to maximize exhibition opportunities during 2018 in order to give the widest possible visibility to the works. Artists will be informed about each exhibition and at the end of the travelling show will receive a certificate including all the venues.

9. Funding

INNER NATURE is a non-profit initiative that runs on volunteer work and depends on grants offered by public institutions related to the mission of the project. Artists agree to show their works in the exhibition without a fee and are offered international exposure. INNER NATURE team works actively to obtain funding: our aim is to create a network as a strategy to gain collective strength and visibility in order to influence public institutions and demand greater commitment to the field of culture and the environment.

Depending on the budget of each edition, our team will consider the possibility of supporting the people and/or the art centers involved in the project to cover expenses related to the acquisition of equipment, display rights, artists, technicians or cultural managers´ fees, etc.

10. Intellectual property rights 

The authors of the selected artworks will transfer their rights for free exclusively for the public screening of the videos in the travelling exhibition. Their authorship will always be acknowledged, contributing to the widest possible visibility of their work. Moreover, the videos will be included in the website of the show ( in the form video fragments or in their entirety, according to the authors’ will.

The organizers can use stills of the artworks or little fragments of the videos (less than twenty seconds) to promote the show through posters, press releases, the internet, etc., always mentioning the authors’ names in the photo credits.

If the videos contain fragments whose copyright belongs to other artists, INNER NATURE EXHIBITION is not responsible for the misappropriation or misuse of those images. The authors must certify that they hold the intellectual property rights of the submitted works according to the legislation in force.

11. Acceptance terms and conditions

Participation in this project implies understanding and acceptance of these terms and conditions in their entirety. The organizers hold the right to make changes and take initiatives, if they contribute to improve the quality and impact of the exhibition.

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Plastic, plastic, every where!

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Plastic, plastic, every where,
All the fish are bereft;
Plastic, plastic, every where,
Not a soul is left.

I met Hong Kong painter Michelle Kuen Suet Fung at an artist residency in Alaska in 2016. She is a diminutive woman with a big smile, a big vision, and an even bigger heart. Four four weeks Michelle and I shared meals, living quarters, hikes, hopes, and worries, and together navigated the intricacies of ferry travel in remote regions. I was lucky to get to know her and her work, and to see the world through her eyes for those four weeks. I gained a friend, a colleague and a new tip for avoiding all those environmentally harmful plastic utensils when eating out: carry bamboo travel utensils (like these) with you at all times…

Michelle draws inspirations from a wide range of sources and popular sub-cultures, including fairy tales, children’s picture books, the Japanese Otaku, fifteenth-century European etching, as well as traditional Chinese painting. Animals and their relationships with humans is a long recurring thread in her works.

What are you working on right now?

I have three main projects in 2017. For the past month, I have been working on a book manuscript of “Plastic, plastic, every where!,” a dystopia of plastic consumption. (See video interview.) The cautionary tale begins in the present and spans about a hundred years. The narrative, which borrows from fairy tales, children’s literature, and prophecy, presents a future where humans’ frenzied consumption of plastic (as in objects like lifesaver donuts, telephone hotdogs, etc. …) has led the human race past the point of no return:

In the first half of the 21st century, marine animals have developed such an insatiable appetite for plastic that the nations of the world set up feeding stations. Over time, however, fewer and fewer animals show up to the feedings, and eventually, none show up. The global craze for plastic-eating originates from the 2084 annual meeting of the Great Five Industrial Nations on Miami Island, cut off from the mainland because of rising sea levels. At the meeting, China (in the form of a pig) proposes that if animals can learn to eat plastic, why can’t children?

The work was presented as a drawing installation in 2015. I have adapted the narrative into book form, and the story is shortlisted in the Young Writer’s Competition in Hong Kong. I will complete the manuscript in the spring and hopefully the book will be chosen for publication.

Concurrently, I am making “Plastic, plastic, every where!” into a moving drawings video. The work-in-progress has been almost two years in the making and went through substantial changes after my artist residency at Art Omi (NY, USA) last summer. This year, I will invest time to complete the final draft before pairing music and sound to the visuals.

“Plastic, plastic, everywhere!” exhibited as a drawing installation at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2015.

Last but not least, China’s micro-narrative in “Plastic, plastic, every where!” has been developed into an autonomous work. In 2084, China has solved its pollution problems with Plan Polluta, condensing air pollution into building bricks. With these bricks, China builds floating artist colonies in the sky. I am making propaganda posters and banner paintings (loosely based on those from the Cultural Revolution era) to be shown in a solo exhibition at Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA, in 2018. The gallery will be transformed into a promotional center for the Ministry of Polluta. Besides painting, I am also conducting research for the two performances that will take place during the exhibition.

You have lived in many countries. How do you think that influences your work?

I never quite knew how it affected me until last summer art critic Dominique Nahas described my works as cosmopolitan. It then dawned on me that I could only make cosmopolitan works because I was exactly that! I have lived in Hong Kong, Canada, UK and the US and speak three and a half languages (the half language is French.) I really enjoy looking at things from multiple points of views without realizing it. For instance, when I translate, I often find meaning differs slightly in different languages. It comes down to cultural sensitivity and connotations. However, I am poorly educated in the Middle Eastern, African and Native perspectives, and many other minorities. While it is impossible for any works to be truly inclusive, I hope my works are less about navel-gazing.

Do you consider yourself an activist? Why?

I have been asked that question before, and I don’t see myself as one. I think fundamentally activists work to bring about social change and artists focus on making their best possible work. I definitely belong to the latter group. Having said that, I do think the most compelling advocacy is to lead by example. Far from perfect, I strive to live a greener lifestyle. I stopped ordering anything take-out unless I have my own containers. I haven’t bought chemical household products such as laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, household cleaner for years. I make my own from food scraps or other greener materials. By persisting in my own habits, I see changes in people around me. I also share some of my insights on social media: the response is almost always encouraging.

The scene of the G5 annual meeting of 2084 where China comes up with a proposal, ‘If animals can learn to eat plastic, why can’t children?’

You participated in the Tidelines Ferry Tour in 2016. Can you tell me a little bit about that experience?

That was a humbling journey. We toured eight communities in Southeast Alaska in one month under the theme of climate change. Having lived in Canada for almost two decades, I barely had contact with First Nations. I had to reassess my presumptuous assumptions about a green lifestyle in the 21st century. On this trip, I developed enormous reverence for a community for its respect of nature. Meat-eating is damaging to the planet in most developed countries, but salad-lovers may cause more harm in Alaska if we consider all the fuel and energy needed to fly in the leaves. The trip taught me to take my urban arrogant attitude home.

I wrote bilingual (Chinese and English) weekly blogs on the tour for Altermodernists, a Hong-Kong-based media platform for local artists:

Week 1 Blog Entry
Week 2 Blog Entry
Week 3 Blog Entry
Week 4 Blog Entry 

Michelle Kuen Suet Fung working on a banner in Sitka, Alaska during the Tidelines Ferry Tour in 2016.

What is the single most important thing artists can do to address climate change?

In this age of chaos and uncertainty, I hesitate to give artists an aura of visionaries. Artists should do what we have historically done well: Make great work. Facts do not compel change; pain and strong emotions do. If my work can elicit strong reactions that result in concrete change in one viewer’s behavior, I will consider my work successful.

What gives you hope?

It is relatively easy for those who live in the war-free First World to find solace: A blue ocean, a delicate flower, a cool breeze, a delicious meal, and our loved ones. When I gaze at these beautiful things, I have a fierce urge to protect them. When I look at my niece’s porcelain skin and watch her play with two leaves for almost an hour, I know we want to still have tigers, whales, elephants, and polar bears for her to experience. If we choose to have no hope, all battles are lost. I choose to have hope, because that is the only thing we have to go on.

About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

A Hope I Can Live With

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

This article was originally published on HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community, on September 20, 2016.

I am a theatre director in an early stage of thinking about performance and climate change—more of an idea and question gathering place than a how-that-translates-to-process-and-dramaturgy place. This is a tour of some ideas.

This past fall, I co-organized a conversation with Sarah Cameron Sunde and Moe Yousuf in conjunction with the Theatre Without Borders Conference. About twenty-five folks (across disciplines and nationalities) shared personal entry points to making real the massiveness of climate change; themes I remember include anticipatory grief, environmental racism, individual vs. collective agency, and tempered hope in human ingenuity and the earth’s resilience. Then, Sarah invited Moe to lead us in making pickles. Pickling framed our conversation in a longer experience of time, and it gave (some of) us a reason to meet again later to experience our (well, failed) pickles.

Moe Yousuf facilitated a pickle making process as part of a climate change think tank held in conjunction with the 2016 Theatre Without Borders Conference. Photo by Sarah Cameron Sunde.

Also thinking of a conversation I had with Dehlia Hannah. Hannah is a curator-as-research practitioner whose current project A Year Without Winter, co-led with scholar Cynthia Selin, gathers scholarly and artistic responses to climate change over three years in resonance with the Year Without a Summer and its role in forming Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (The Year Without a Summer, 1816), was a tumultuous global cooling event sparked, in part, by a massive volcanic eruption.) When I asked about hope in the context of climate change, Hannah expressed concern that hope can be an uncomfortably close bedfellow with denial. Even if climate change is not an apocalyptic disaster flick, it will effect real and unknown loss—to the planet’s ecological systems, and to the human (and other) life inside those systems. Imagining climate change will require being present to loss—anticipated and experienced. Maybe to replace hope with attention. How do we sustain attention in the context of climate change? A Year Without Winter provides a conceptual framework, a dialogical network, and a three-year incubation to connect wide ranging entry points in imagining and responding to anthropogenic climate change. This creative system models an ecological way of seeing.

I’ve been thinking, for my own work, about what makes up an ecological way of seeing. Some entry points that make sense to me include complexity, corporality, contingency, and collective action.

Anne van Galen’s Warriors of Downpour City (2015) is a collaboration between A Year Without a Winter and X and Beyond. The summer 2016 exhibition Dressing in a World of Endless Rainfall showcased Anne van Galen’s work and explored fashion’s anticipation of worlds to come. Photo courtesy of A Year Without Winter.

Anthropogenic climate change happens on a scale that’s hard (for me) to imagine. It’s not drought, hurricane, or weather in general. It’s a change in long-term patterns of weather. This distinction feels important because chronic, systemic change requires different attentions than extreme weather events. Warming global climate doesn’t follow a dramaturgy of crisis, although, as we are seeing more and more, it can contain crisis. It follows more closely a dramaturgy of chronic illness. Something that will play out over time in unpredictable ways and that requires continual and curious action. It requires urgency, but urgency without attachment. We will not see all the consequences of our actions—good or bad—within our lifetime. How does my theatre rehearse a seeing with this kind of sustained and unresolved attention?

As weather patterns change, stories about folks’ connection to land and life take on new stakes. Narratives about human control over nature contributed to seeing the natural world as disposable resource, contributed to actions that created climate change. I don’t think this assumption, especially embedded in Western culture, can get us out of climate change. How does my theatre center stories (remembered or reinvented) that situate human beings as part of larger living and evolving systems?

Contingency and Collective Action
Something that impacts the whole planet requires the whole planet to respond. I grew up wearing a lot of sweaters inside in the winter and rolling down car windows in the summer; and I think a performance of personal responsibility is a meaningful practice. I rehearse mindfulness, but I don’t think it’s an impactful practice in terms of emission reduction. This requires not just pooling individual actions, but changing regulations, energy sources. This requires collective action. How is my theatre rehearsing a personal awakening to collective action? And, what are the images I have for the collective? As many folks in this series have pointed out, climate change disproportionately effects many communities of color. Rebecca Solnit has some language I appreciate about natural disasters as policy disasters, as putting pressure on existing social inequalities (particularly referencing Hurricane Katrina and discussed cogently in an On Being interview.) How does my theatre enact and envision a global community that is multivalent, fluid, and offers specific critique to entrenched systems of oppression?

One of the formidable aspects of man-made climate change is that we don’t know exactly how the earth will respond to a rising average temperature. In order to be able to respond deeply and impact fully, it seems important that our attending prepares us to continue not knowing. An older image of apocalypse is not physical destruction, but disclosure of knowledge. As artists, we know something about waiting for this apocalypse, about doing the deep and urgent work of being changed, with the trust that changed seeing leads to changed action, changed policies. I admire projects like Chantal Bilodeau’s Arctic Cycle, Mondo Bizarro and ArtSpot’s Cry You One, and Lars Jan’s Holoscenes for crafting such spaces. And, I would add, this work, this orientation to apocalypse is also a definition of hope. A hope I can live with.


Emily Mendelsohn is a Brooklyn-based director.  As a member of Waypoints, an ensemble of US/East African artists, Emily directed Erik Ehn’s Maria Kizito and Deborah Asiimwe’s Cooking Oil through residencies in Kigali, Kampala, New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Emily co-curates Border Labs, a process and performance exchange between artists in Los Angeles and Tijuana. She is a recipient of the TCG Global Connections In the Lab program and a Fulbright Fellowship in Uganda. Affiliate artist New Georges, member Theater Without Borders. MFA CalArts.

About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Holly Keasey: Is a river without water, still a river?

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Holly Keasey’s fourth post to ecoartscotland, as part of her participation in the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Water Rights residency, focuses on different ways of experiencing and thinking about the Santa Fe River (such as it is).

A friend this week set me a challenge to write a detailed, more phenomenological, observation of a small patch of land or waterway. I had planned to go to Otowi Bridge twenty-five miles North, an important crossing point of the Rio Grande. It is a site where the measurement is taken that decides the allocation of waters from the Rio Grande to the settlements downstream in New Mexico, to the Elephant Butte Reservoirs and across the borders into Mexico and Texas. However, the hours and/or energy required to make that trip by bike during daylight hours hasn’t yet materialised.

Instead, a group of us walked a nearby section of the Santa Fe River – not walking along the banks as is normal, but instead walking the path of the river where water should, but does not flow. My gut response to this walk was that the Santa Fe River, at this point of its course, does not completely exist, at least in physical form. The beach-like riverbed missing the saturation of water; the crumpling banks reinforced by dumped rusting Mustangs; and the deposits of rocks still too large to slip into my pockets, tell tales of the river and its occasional re-appearance during times of heavy rain and snow melt, but them by themselves cannot be the river.


I could describe to you further the phenomenon of this dehydrated river channel – a soily skin that flakes similar to ours when lacking moisture. Its overwhelming stillness, a tiredness teetering on the edge of death. The glimmers of hopes that come from underfoot as the surface of the bed hardens with saturation and walking becomes easier. Or I could delve into the questions such experiences makes me ponder about when is a river still a river – are the bed and banks enough to constitute being a river on their own? Or is the water, and the ecosystem it brings life to, essential to our understanding of a river? Is the river actually still complete given the potential of a continuation of even the smallest movement of water underfoot? Or is there a spirit to the river, an existential presence of its own?

But if so, all I can hear is it’s frustrated scream of desperation to stop sharing an enchantment with its starved physical form.


During our walk, I came across a yellow-cake like rock. Having spent my previous day reading about the uranium industry and the history of the Manhattan Project, curiosity got the better of me as I examined the rock to see if it was uranium before remembering, ‘What if it is uranium!’ and quickly releasing its yellow mass back to the riverbed. This small act of entitlement followed by fear, reflects what currently resides and flows along this riverbed, in the place of physical water: a river that can be perceived through its giving location and specificity to the many direct and indirect actions, fuelled by fear and/or entitlement, that have led to its own dehydration and questionable status as a river.

Another way of thinking through this is via a brief consideration of site.

Many consider ‘site’ as a noun, as an identified area where something resides or is constructed. ‘Site’ as a noun can be both physical, such as the ‘site’ of the first atomic bomb explosion occurred at the Trinity Site in Southern New Mexico, and conceptual, as the Trinity Site marks the site of change in the global psyche, shadowed by a new fear. Yet, what is potentially more relevant to how the Santa Fe River can be perceived is the consideration of site as a verb, the action of giving location to something. In the context of complexity, of ‘everything connected to everything else’, it is useful to ‘give location’ to complexity, to understand the Santa Fe River as the location of small and large acts of entitlement and fear.

Such acts of entitlement and fear, which have resulted in the current state of the Santa Fe River, can be traced back to the introduction of US legislation regarding property rights and the liberty of the individual, shifting the uses of the land and perceived entitlements to water, damming upstream and leaving no water for the river to physically continue along its way. And then drawn forward through the development of the atomic bomb in the fear of communism, to previous and continued contamination of waters from mining and the consequent and on-going environmental genocide of many native communities.

These relational socio-economic situations constitute the collective phenomena that, for me at least, is the current river. The westernised entitlement to resources is so great that we have absorbed the river physically and perceptually, ignoring all rights held by the river to be a river.

The use of emotive notions, fear and entitlement in the case of Santa Fe, to conduct a scalar approach through personal, social and environmental issues is more typical to how I perceive and work with water. Through focusing on fear and entitlement I am able to perceive the Santa Fe River, not only through its lack of water, but as an act of giving location to complexity.

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

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

Go to EcoArtScotland

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Visual Arts Residency / Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – National Centre for Gaelic Language, Culture and the Arts, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Applications for the 2017 International  Jon Schueler Scholarship will be open on 27th February 2017.

The residency will take place from Mon 25th September –  Friday 15th December 2017.

Closing date for applications Monday 3rd April 2017,  5pm GMT


Applications are now being welcomed for the fifth Jon Schueler Scholarship, Visual Artist in Residence, an exciting international residency opportunity  to take place in Skye in the summer/autumn of 2017. In a unique international partnership between Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language, Culture and the Arts (Scotland) and the Jon Schueler Charitable Trust, with support from the Royal Scottish Academy.  The successful applicant will have the opportunity to come and research, develop and produce work for 3 months in the dedicated artist’s studio in a spectacular setting overlooking The Sound of Sleat, the place which so inspired Schueler as an artist.

The Scholarship is open to international artists (including Scottish and UK) working to the highest level of contemporary professional practice in a visual medium and with a particular interest in landscape and the environment. Artists must have completed formal arts education at least 3 years previously.

The annual (2013 -2020) visual arts scholarship has been set up in celebration and in memory of the life, work and artistic influence of internationally renowned artist and abstract expressionist, Jon Schueler (1916-1992), in recognition of his very special relationship with the landscape and environment of the Sound of Sleat.

The aims of the residency are 1. to provide a visual artist working to the highest level of contemporary practice a period of research, development and production in a unique environment, 2. to promote Skye, The Gaeltachd and Scotland as an exciting, distinct and inspiring place to work for a contemporary artist, and to promote the exchange of ideas.

The residency is for 12 weeks from  Mon 25th September – Frid 15th December 2017.

The Artist will receive:

• a residency fee of £8,000 for the 12 week period

• an allowance of £500 for materials

• provision of an artist’s studio with ICT support

• reasonable travel costs of a single return trip to undertake the residency in Skye (12 weeks) met in full as part of the scholarship

• accommodation on campus

The Scholarship will enable a visual artist to come and work in and from the large Visual Arts Studio, based within the FÀS Centre for the Creative and Cultural Industries, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, in a rich and multi-disciplinary arts environment. The Stiùidio Ealain is a custom-built working Visual Artist studio. Perched high over the rocky shoreline and looking out over the Sound of Sleat and Knoydart, its generous space includes double height ceiling (in part), outside access, sink room, storage and blackout blinds.

In addition to the provision of the generous studio, the Artist will have access to our sound recording studio and extensive reference library with two collections of  national and international significance – the ‘MacCarmaig’ and ‘Celtica’ Collections, together creating one of the most important collections of antiquarian books of Gaelic and related materials in existence anywhere in the world. It may also be possible, by special arrangement, to have access to a range of film, editing and post-production facilities on site.

Artists will be given the opportunity during their residency to engage with the Gaelic Language and Culture and also have the opportunity to meet with other artists working in different art forms: film, literature, drama and music. There will also be opportunities to meet with artists working within the local area. This is hoped will encourage the exchange of ideas.

“ I am so grateful to be given this opportunity of discovery, that has opened my eyes to a new way of looking. I will treasure this experience. It will remain with me and influence my work for the rest of my life.” Takeshi Shikama, Jon Schueler Artist in Residence 2013.

“Being given the opportunity to work for three month in the unique context of Gaelic Culture and Language, based on the breathtakingly beautiful Island of Skye, and surrounded by supportive and engaging people, has opened new routes in my work for me. This residency is without doubt one of the most stimulating I have ever been involved in.”

Helmut Lemke, Jon Schueler Artist in Residence 2014.

   Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Background Notes

   Visual Arts Studio Plan

   About the Jon Schueler Scholarship

   Scholarship Guidelines



Mon 27th Feb  2017 – applications open  for SJS 2017, web-link live

Mon 3rd April 2017, 5pm GMT – Closing date for applications

Wed 20th April 2017- shortlisted artists invited for interview

Frid 26th May  2017 – Interviews , Royal scottish Academy, Edinburgh/ and via skype

Frid 9th June 2017 – announcement of successful candidate with press release


Frid 1st September  2017 -applications open  for SJS 2018, web-link live

Mon 16th Oct, 5pm GMT 2017 – Closing date for applications

Thurs 2nd Nov 2017 – shortlisted artists invited for interview

Friday 24th Nov  2017 –  Interviews, Royal scottish Academy, Edinburgh (tbc)/ and via skype

Frid 8th Dec 2017 – announcement of successful candidate with press release


Frid 31st Aug 2018 -applications open  for SJS 2019, web-link live

Mon 15th Oct, 5pm GMT 2018 – Closing date for applications

Thurs 1st Nov 2018 – shortlisted artists invited for interview

Friday 23rd Nov  2018 –  Interviews, Royal scottish Academy, Edinburgh (tbc)/ and via skype

Frid 7th Dec 2017 – announcement of successful candidate with press release


Frid 30th Aug 2019 -applications open  for SJS 2020, web-link live

Mon 14th Oct, 5pm GMT 2019 – Closing date for applications

Thurs 31st Oct 2019 – shortlisted artists invited for interview

Friday 22nd Nov  2019 –  Interviews, Royal scottish Academy, Edinburgh (tbc)/ and via skype

Frid 6th Dec 2019 – announcement of successful candidate with press release

A Field of Wheat: whose art?

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

This piece was originally published as part of the A Field of Wheat project in September 2016 at the invitation of the artists. The images are all courtesy of the artists.

20th August 2016 I got an email headlined “The Wheat has been Harvested”. It wasn’t a metaphor. A field of wheat in Branston Booths, Lincolnshire, the central focus of an art project of that name, has been harvested. That’s good news given that a number of us invested in this project, and again I don’t mean metaphorically.

Even if neither the wheat nor the investments are metaphorical, how is such a literal field of wheat in any way art?


Artists have represented farming; agriculture has been a subject in art in various ways, probably since the beginning of agriculture. There are various points where it becomes something ‘new’, for example in Dutch renaissance painting or Courbet in the 19th Century but farming appears in ancient Egyptian art too. Agnes Denes’ 1982 artwork Wheatfield: A Confrontation grown on the Battery Park Landfill is an iconic piece of environmental public art. It contributed to the mainstream acceptance of issues-based, activist public art. Denes’ statement about the work framed it as challenging the value of land (in 1982 at the time of making the work the Battery Park Landfill was valued at $4.5 billion dollars). The wheat grown was included in a touring exhibition concerned with world hunger. Denes also cites the juxtaposition of growing (the field) with exchange (Wall Street). All of these are aspects of a ‘new’ interest in agriculture by artists in the past 50 years.


But there is also an art of farming, and perhaps all farmers are to some extent exercising their art every day. This might sound facile, but the boundary that defines ‘art’ is one largely constructed by the art market and it’s key operators: curators, gallery owners and collectors. Artists have a particular relationship with art from this perspective because functionally others (not artists) define the value of art. This of course is true for farmers too – they are equally dependent on other professions and structures which define value.

This way of thinking about art and the arts is David Haley’s. He says,

The word “art‟ is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word, “rta‟. Rta retains its meaning in contemporary Hindi as a noun-adjective for the dynamic process by which the whole cosmos continues to be created, virtuously. It refers to the right way of evolution and we still talk about excellence, or the correct way of doing something as an “art‟ – the art of cooking, the art of football, the art of gardening, “The Art of Archery‟, “The Art of Making Cities‟, and even “The Art of War‟.


If this is the case then Peter Lundgren, the farmer collaborating with Anne-Marie Culhane and Ruth Levene on the project A Field of Wheat is practising his art in the way that they are practising theirs.

In this case both are stepping beyond the existing constructions of value as determined by the institutions that normally enable their practices (the art world and agri-business).

Culhane, Levene and Lundgren have connected us directly to food in a way that is different from any other experience. They offered us a chance to invest in a field of wheat. To be precise Middle Field on Lundgren’s 100 acre farm. In this case investing is probably a bit like investing was in the 18th century – you visit your investment (though not if you live too remotely) and you participate in decision-making – discussing the issues and voting with other investors on key decisions around fertilisers and the sale of the wheat. It is facilitated by digital technology but the decisions are not being made by algorithms on trading floors in London or Chicago, but rather by individuals at desks in home-offices.


It’s genuinely fascinating to be an intermediary, an investor, part of the financial industry engaged in agriculture, but to do it at a level where you know exactly what you are investing in and with whom. There is risk. That’s been clear from the outset. Of course now the wheat is in, the risk is vastly reduced.

It’s not surprising that the group in a Collective Decision (preceded by a Collective Enquiry) has chosen to use the least fertiliser and to sell the wheat through the Openfield, the British farmers’ co-op (rather than through Frontier, a Carghill subsidiary), but the participants (investors) have also brought research and expertise to the process.

The discursive process constructed by the artists aimed to draw participants into a dialogue around the issues before any decision was made, hence the Collective Enquiry phase. The Collective Decision is straightforwardly democratic, but the aim has been to ensure that it is made with care, rather than in haste. Culhane speaks of “holding a level platform” in her blog on the subject. Good deliberative practice and good socially engaged arts practice.


However underpinning this is a deeper commitment from the artists to an understanding of the value of Collective Silence as an important aspect of a carefully judged and constructed process. A Field of Wheat has taken place on-line and through live events. Quaker approaches to silence as part of a careful life have been used to avoid the negative characteristics of on-line debate and discussion, particularly encouraged by dealing with communications on hand-held devices which contextually and practically encourage brevity. Asking people to spend time in silence before responding to issues has led to respectful and careful discussions.

Another approach to this issue of personal reflective connection comes from the Final Straw project. Final Straw is a film about Natural Farming (or biodiverse farming) as it is practiced in Korea and Japan. In a recent blog from the Final Straw project , Patrick Lydon noted that farmers practising this form of agriculture will often seek a very close connection with the consumers of their produce. Lydon, and Suhee Kang (his collaborator) have, in parallel, been experimenting with ‘real time food’ where you order the food to eat in 10 weeks after it has been grown. They highlight a number of examples of food producers, farmers and chefs, forming long term relationships with their customers.

The idea of a ‘third space’ is particular to social art practices. A third space is different from commercial or formal public spaces. Those are characterised by either markets and extraction of value, or by bureaucratic structures and legal processes. Social art practices, as exemplified by A Field of Wheat, as well as other examples like Denes’ Wheatfield and Lydon and Kang’s Final Straw, can create different ways for people to engage with issues of common interest. These usually focus on issues of public good, but not so often through creating a ‘third space’ for an engagement with the economics of a ‘public’ issue such as food and farming.

A Field of Wheat took two years to develop. We are still in the process and will be until the wheat is sold. The art project will probably go on to produce a book and the farmer will continue the agricultural cycle. The wider implications of A Field of Wheat will take longer to manifest. I wonder how the Collective Dialogue would evolve? How would the economy evolve? What would it be like to be part of farming long term, all practising our arts together?

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.

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