Monthly Archives: December 2020

An Interview with Madhur Anand and Kathryn Mockler

By Amy Brady

Happy winter to those of you in the Northern hemisphere, and happy summer to those of you in the South. As 2021 nears, I can’t help but wonder how 2020 will be remembered by historians. The pandemic will surely be at the forefront of any book written about the year, but how will humanity’s response to climate change be remembered? Specifically, the climate actions of wealthy countries like the USA? The Trump administration’s horrific handling of the climate crisis will not be forgotten, certainly. I also hope that the history books will record the incredible work of activists, writers, and artists who continued to bring greater awareness to the problem, who found new and thoughtful ways to work through the grief and anger of climate change – as well as ways to generate hope and courage.

Speaking of incredible writers and artists, this month I have for you an interview with two editors of a new Canadian anthology on climate change. Meet Madhur Anand and Kathryn Mockler, who bring us Watch Your Head, an anthology of fiction, poetry, essay, and art about climate, out now on Coach House Books. Both editors have worked at the intersection of art and climate for some time. Madhur is the award-winning author of A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes and This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart both published by Penguin Random House Canada. She is a full professor of ecology and sustainability at The University of Guelph where she was appointed the inaugural director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research. Kathryn Mockler is the publisher of Watch Your Head, a literary and arts site devoted to publishing works about climate justice and the climate crisis. Her debut collection of stories is forthcoming from Book*hug in 2022. She is an Assistant Professor of Screenwriting in the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria. 

In our interview below, we discuss what inspired the new anthology, what they hope readers take away from it, and why the word “Anthropocene” can hardly be found in the anthology’s pages.

Let’s start at the beginning. What was the genesis of this project? How did it come into being?

Kathryn: I organized a climate crisis reading as part of a larger art and performance protest that took place in Simcoe Park during the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019. The readers included Margaret Christakos, Adam Giles Catherine Graham, Hege Jakobsen Lepri, Khashayar Mohammadi, Terese Mason Pierre, Rasqira Revulva, and Todd Westcott. 

Even though the crowd that had gathered was small, it was a moving event. We captured the reading on video, and I wanted a place to publish this work. I had published an online literary and arts journal for several years, so I had the tools to put it together. That’s how Watch Your Head was born. Very quickly writers and artists in the community became interested in the project and volunteered to be a part of it, which is why we have such a large editorial collective (27 writers and artists).

It was intended to be an online-only project where we would publish new work each month, but Alana Wilcox, the Editorial Director of Coach House Books, asked if we would like to do a print anthology and donate the proceeds to climate justice organization. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity. Fifteen editors from the WYH collective headed up the print anthology, and it was released in October 2020. We had a virtual event which you can watch here.

Watch Your Head is such an evocative title. Where does it come from?

Kathryn: The initial climate protest reading took place on September 7, 2019 and the website was up by September 13, 2019. To be honest, I didn’t give a lot of thought to the title. I just needed something to get this up and running as fast as possible because I didn’t want to lose the momentum. 

The phrase “watch your head” came from an eco-fiction piece I wrote and I had purchased the domain earlier in the year for another project related to that. However, when the idea for this website came about, I realized Watch Your Head was perfect for a journal about the climate crisis since the phrase is often found on caution signs which warn of known and preventable dangers. 

This entire project has unfolded in this way – acting without a plan and moving forward to see what will happen. However, we are grounded by our focus on climate justice and our goals of speaking out, raising awareness, encouraging people to act, and taking concrete action ourselves by supporting justice-focused organizations like RAVEN and Climate Justice Toronto

In the introduction, you write that “Anthropocene” is not a term that appears frequently in the anthology. Why is this?

Kathryn: We describe in our introduction that a climate justice approach does not separate issues like “colonization, racism, anti-Blackness, and other forms of forcibly maintained social inequalities” from concerns related to the climate crisis and the erosion of the planet’s natural environment. 

The term “Anthropocene” implies a universal “we” impacted the Earth’s atmosphere, water, and ecosystems. However, the people and countries who have contributed the least to climate change are going to bear the brunt of it. And to talk about it like we are all responsible in the same way is not only an affront to these communities but a form of continued violence. In addition, the universal “we” absolves those with the power to do something about it of their responsibility to take action and implement policies. 

Given this frame, it’s not surprising few of the works focus on the term Anthropocene. 

Madhur: My best guess is that it is just overused as a term and it doesn’t tell us about the specificities of being in this epoch. In my opinion, it has already failed as a linguistic term to incite change. In a paper published just this month (December 2020) in Nature, researchers found that human-made mass exceeds all living biomass on Earth (whereas humans themselves only make up 0.01% of global biomass). We need new language to articulate this devastation and our anthology does that. 

Many climate anthologies focus on a single genre: nonfiction, fiction, poetry. Yours contains all of those as well as visual art. Why include all of these genres together in this book?

Kathryn: The different art forms provide us with more voices to contribute to this vital conversation. 

The visual art in particular really draws people in. On the website, we are able to publish all media including time-based works such as performance artvideoanimation, film, and in the print anthology, we published painting drawing, comics, and photography. 

We are grateful to our visual art editors June Pak and Jennifer Dorner for their work in bringing visual art to this project.

Madhur: I work across several literary genres and don’t see the divisions all that clearly and would guess that Kathryn would feel similarly as she too works across several genres. Our anthology aimed at representing the vast diversity of artistic approaches to contemplating the climate emergency. Genre (or stylistic) diversity was inevitable when you have such a diversity of voices.

Climate change is often thought of and discussed in scientific terms. What can artistic responses – like those found in this book – offer that perhaps scientific responses do not? Or, looked at another way, how can science and art work together to show us something powerful about the crisis?

Madhur: I think it is fair to say that (traditional/Western) scientific approaches to studying climate change are limited in ultimately bringing about the changes necessary for humanity to respond to the climate crisis. It’s also then fair to say that art can change the way we think and the way we behave quite radically, but without a scientific framework it can only go so far in solving environmental problems. It’s perhaps because of the longstanding (artificial, unhelpful) divide between art and science in society that we must turn to one another for a mutual response, perhaps for a collective one, during times of crisis. But there are similarities: In science, an index is a statistical device used to study complex systems, like ecosystems (diversity index), economies (Dow Jones), the human heart (bpm) and yes, climate change (mean global annual temperature). In poetry, the devices are different but many of the systems are the same. Writing poems can represent a “critical slowing down”, measured by new indexes (such as the “early warning signal”) used to discover or predict sudden transitions, like revelations. This kind of “revelation” has not come with the scientific discovery of anthropogenic climate change so we must keep working on it. I haven’t seen very many powerful combinations of art and science to address climate change and often, when it’s done, it only reaches one group (and often it’s the artists). We definitely need more of these kinds of conversations. 

Many of the pieces in this anthology also address capitalism. Taken together, what might they show us about capitalism and climate change?

Madhur: I mention in the Introduction that the science of climate change has been known for centuries. The IPCC special report of 2018 emphasized that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are needed. That obviously can’t be done with science alone. The dominant mode of human behavior and societal progress is based on consumer capitalism, which so often divorces economy from the environment. These economic systems are inherently unsustainable and the work of this anthology reflects the myriad of ways this is witnessed.

Finally, what’s next for you both?

Kathryn: For Watch Your Head, it feels like we’re still at the beginning. The print anthology was just released in October, and we hope to have many future events. My goal is to have every one of the 84 contributors participate in at least one Watch Your Head event, and, of course, the website is an ongoing project.

In the new year, I’m hosting a panel with Watch Your Head contributors at Word on the Street Toronto on Thursday, January 21 at 7:00 pm EST. The panel will be streaming on YouTube.

We’re organizing other events, one of which is a virtual climate writing workshop where participants will read from the anthology and write poems and stories and nonfiction in response as a way to get people to write and talk about these issues and buy the book! That will occur in the spring and the details will be on our website when they are available.

Madhur: In 2020, between the first and second COVID-19 waves, my debut prose book came out. I use the lenses of ecology, physics, history and many other disciplines, to retell the oral histories of my parents’ lives beginning with the effects of the Partition of British India. I also reflect on contemporary issues from my own life experience as scientist and artist, from topics as far-ranging as personal identity to restoration ecology. I aim to understand problems holistically. I’m working on a manuscript that will form my second book of poems as well as putting together ideas for my first novel. I’m also looking forward to tons of interdisciplinary work through my role as the inaugural director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research.

This article is part of the Climate Art Interviews series. It was originally published in Amy Brady’s “Burning Worlds” newsletter. Subscribe to get Amy’s newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.


Amy Brady is the Deputy Publisher of Guernica magazine and Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books. Her writing about art, culture, and climate has appeared in the Village Voice, the Los Angeles TimesPacific Standard, the New Republic, and other places. She is also the editor of the monthly newsletter “Burning Worlds,” which explores how artists and writers are thinking about climate change. She holds a PHD in English and is the recipient of a CLIR/Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship. Read more of her work at at and follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.


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

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Electric vehicles and their role in the green recovery

Are you on a mission to ‘Build Back Better’ by reducing your travel-related emissions? Do you want to contribute to the green recovery? Investing in an electric vehicle (EV) is one way you can achieve these goals.

We know from our work with Scotland’s cultural sector and our carbon management planning and emissions reporting support that travel is often the biggest source of an organisation’s emissions, whilst also being a necessary part of what they do – whether it is touring work, travelling staff or even attracting audiences to their space. Road transport contributes to one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (produced by burning petrol and diesel) in the UK.[1]

EVs are a key way in which we can reduce our fossil fuel consumption and the climate change-causing gases they produce. Of course, they’re not cheap. However, government ambitions for net zero, combined with the desire for a green recovery as we emerge from COVID-19, are resulting in more investment and incentives that might just bring an EV within reach for you or your organisation.

We’ve worked with our energy expert partners, Good Energy, to produce this special edition resource to share some insights into EVs and the things you might want to consider.

How long have EVs been around?

It is suggested[2] that one of the earliest electric vehicles was invented in 1832 and, even better, it happened in Scotland! Other electric vehicles were invented and manufactured in Europe and the US right through until the early 1900s, but their popularity was short-lived due to the rollout of mass car production. Now, however, EVs are making an impressive comeback. They’re easier to buy than ever before, and what’s more both the Scottish and UK governments are pushing for their uptake to help them achieve their net zero targets, and as we seek to ‘build back better’ following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Governments are getting behind EVs

Governments are promoting a green recovery to repair the damage wrought by the pandemic and to combat climate change. Getting behind EVs is one focus of their green recovery strategies. The Scottish Government aims to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032[3] and has been actively promoting EVs since at least 2013 when it published Switched On Scotland: A Roadmap to Widespread Adoption of Plug-in Vehicles. In November 2020, the UK Government announced it was bringing forward its target to end sales from 2035 to 2030 alongside a £1.3 billion investment into EV charging points.[4]

This year has seen a number of new electric cars become available, and there are now more affordable options, many from household car brands such as Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall[5]amongst others. According to Next Green Car, combined EV (i.e. pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV*) market share is up on last year from 3.8% in September 2019 to 10.5% in September 2020.[6]

Although many journeys can be made by public transport (particularly in well-connected cities) or avoided (through digital communications), EVs provide a cleaner, greener option for those who need a car (or van) to tour, traverse the country or who live and work in more rural areas. EVs are becoming far more common in the UK. There are now more than 164,000 pure electric cars and almost 350,000 plug-in models (including PHEVs) on our roads.[7] This is expected to increase to a million within the next two years and, if projections by the National Grid in a UK Government briefing paper are realised, there will be between 2.7 and 10.6 million EVs in the UK by 2030.[8] Mind you, it’s important to note that the phase-out mentioned above will include hybrid and plug-in hybrid models from 2035, so if you’re looking to futureproof your driving you’re probably better going straight to a pure electric vehicle.

Below we talk about some of the key considerations when thinking about investing in an electric vehicle.

  • Emission-free travel A traditional car requires fuel and emits gases often associated with climate change. The electric engines in EVs operate on a closed circuit, so there are no emissions. And, if the electricity you use to power your electric vehicle is sourced from 100% renewable sources (sun, wind, rain), the travel itself doesn’t produce any emissions either.
  • Lower running costs As fuel costs fluctuate globally, electricity prices are often cheaper and more secure so your ‘tank’ of electricity can work out to be a fraction of the fossil fuel fill-up cost. Other savings can be made via your home energy supply – for example, Good Energy offers a specific electric vehicle tariff for those charging cars at home – and on your road tax, because there isn’t any for pure EVs, they’re exempt!
  • Less maintenance Electric engines have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, which means there’s less to go wrong. Electric engines are generally smaller and quieter too.
  • Popularity As more and more people switch to using EVs, the number of vehicles available increases (to buy and to hire); charging places increase, insurance premiums are driven down and the number of petrol stations decreases, all leading to a better electric driving experience.
  • Range anxiety (fear of running out of charge before reaching your destination) and charging locations – When EVs were first introduced, the distances they could travel on a ‘full tank’ were shorter than a fossil fuel-powered car. However, now EVs have a range of 100 miles plus[9] (meaning you could get from Edinburgh to Aberdeen on a single charge) and most car journeys are actually less than 30 miles. The UK charging network is expanding on a daily basis, providing reassurance for those travelling longer distances. Statistics from Zap Map indicate that, as at 16th November 2020, there are 20,192 charging devices in 12,713 locations across the UK, which is a marked increase from three years ago when there were only 4,800 locations. In fact, statistically, Scotland has more charging points per person than most other areas of the UK, and the Highlands has more public charging points than Edinburgh or Glasgow[10]. The Scottish Government’s national EV charging network, ChargePlace Scotland, currently has 1500+ public charge points. One Point by Good Energy helps organisations install 100% renewable energy charging points on their premises, for use by their staff, visitors and audiences.
  • Charge time – Charging electric vehicles does take longer than a petrol station stop. Most EVs are charged overnight (which is good as demand for electricity is lower at night), but 30-minute, rapid-charging is available for those doing longer journeys. Drive Electric says you can top up your charge from empty to 80% full in 30 minutes with a 50kW rapid charger, which most newer charging points tend to be.[11] Most public charging points are located near cafes, shopping centres…or even cultural attractions so you’re free to do something else while your car gets back to full. For example, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh enables visitors to charge while visiting their exhibitions.
  • Initial cost and the incentives to buy – It’s true that electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than their conventional counterparts, but the government push towards EVs means prices are decreasing, urged on by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK car industry lobby group.[12] The Scottish Government’s interest-free low carbon loan scheme provides individuals and businesses with up to £28,000 for a new electric car or van or, since the scheme was extended in September 2020, up to £20,000 for a used one.[13] There is a list of eligible vehicles; plug-in hybrid models are excluded as are current EV owners. The loan is available in addition to the UK Government’s plug-in car and van grants, which will pay for 20% of the purchase price for eligible vehicles, up to a maximum of £3,000 and £8,000 respectively.[14] The grant is applied by the car dealership at the point of purchase.

There’s funding available from organisations in Scotland like the Energy Savings Trust, for those looking to purchase EVs! If you really want to find out more, here is a recording of a 2019 webinar that gives a ‘deep dive’ into the topic:

These incentives combined may be the perfect opportunity for Scottish creative practitioners and cultural organisations using a car or van for their work or touring schedule to make their first foray into the world of EVs, thus making a positive contribution to the green recovery while dramatically reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

One Point by Good Energy

One Point by Good Energy helps organisations install 100% renewable energy charging points on their premises, for the use of their staff, visitors and audience. As supporters of the Green Arts Initiative, we know they’re experts in renewable electricity, and are committed to enabling the cultural sector to help lead society in climate action. Find out more in this video or get more information:

Some final words

If you’re still not convinced about the pros of electric vehicles, have a read of this blog from the Energy Saving Trust, whose team members shared their experiences of owning and driving EVs. They’ve also written an excellent article on EVs and the green recovery, which is well worth reading.

This is a big topic and we’ve barely touched the sides, but we hope it’s helped you understand electric vehicles, their increased use on UK roads and their advantages a little better. If you have an EV, have experiences with buying or hiring, or have a case study to share with the sector – let us know!

Electric Vehicles and their role in the Green Recovery

We worked with our partner – renewable energy expert, Good Energy – to produce this blog. Good Energy are suppliers of genuine renewable electricity and are committed to enabling the cultural sector to help lead society in climate action. They are supporters of Creative Carbon Scotland and the Green Arts Initiative.

Pure electric vehicles are powered solely by electric motors, most often using a rechargeable battery. Plug-in hybrid vehicles generally use a rechargeable battery and petrol or diesel.

[1], accessed 17/11/2020

[2] (, MG (, WhatCar (, accessed 16/11/2020

[3] Scottish Government website:, accessed 16/11/2020

[4], accessed 18/11/2020

[5], accessed 16/11/2020

[6], accessed 16/11/2020

[7], accessed 17/11/2020

[8] David Hirst, ‘Electric vehicles and infrastructure’, Briefing Paper 7480, House of Commons Library, 25 March 2020, p.6.

[9], accessed 17/11/2020

[10], accessed 17/11/2020

[11], accessed 17/11/2020

[12], accessed 17/11/2020

[13], accessed 16/11/2020

[14] accessed 16/11/2020

Library of Creative Sustainability: Casa Río

This week [Creative Carbon Scotland] published [its] first case study from South America.

Casa Río: Building Power Lab is a centre of research, exchange, training and learning located between the Río de la Plata Estuary and the university city of La Plata in Argentina with transborder connections to UruguayParaguayBolivia and Brazil.

Through creative collaborations, resulting in photography, field recordings, interviews, drawing, sound art, painting, cartography and other perceptual and communicational tools, the project responds to the damaging effects on the basin from a range of environmental pressures.

This is a terrific addition to the Library, and we’ll be adding more soon. If you know of a story, from anywhere in the world, that you feel might be suitable, please get in touch with Lewis Coenen-Rowe.

Read our first South American case study

Call for Artists, The Nature of Cities Festival

The Nature of Cities’ Forum for Radical Imagination on Environmental Cultures (FRIEC) is calling for proposals.

“It is our pleasure to invite your submission for artistic contributions at The Nature of Cities Festival, a global virtual gathering of interdisciplinary thinkers and doers working toward greener cities for nature and all people.

We will review submissions for artworks, performances, films, interventions, micro-talks, and practical workshops about cities and nature that resonate with the theme: radical imagination with nature and all people

Submissions open to 30 January 2021.

Festival February 22-26, 2021

Read more 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 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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Mustarinda Magazine vol. 7 Huoltaa / Maintain published

One day I dig the bowl out from the upper kitchen shelf, blow off most of the dust, and scratch the dry dough flakes to the bottom of the bowl. I measure 2 dl of lukewarm water, and add the same amount of flour and mix it together. I make a promise to it, that next morning I’ll knead it into dough. I wrap a yellow plastic bag around the bowl and I write a note: ‘careful, sourdough waking up’.

Mustarinda Magazine vol. 7 thinks about acts of maintaining in the house, the yard and the forest. We are interpreting maintaining in relation to long-term thinking, longer-term processes and commitments, and to actions that involve collective participation, care, and dialogue. The issue celebrates ten years of the Mustarinda association by stating: let’s keep going!

Contributors include: Elisa AaltolaMichaela CaskováPaavo JärvensivuHarrie Liveart, L.V. Maamirko nikolićMarta MartinováRiitta NykänenSanna Ritvanen and Hanna Kaisa Vainio. The volume is edited by Neal Cahoon and Miina Kaartinen. The design of the print edition is by Pauliina Leikas.

You can pre-order the magazine for postal delivery ahead of the launch by emailing us: info@mustarinda.fiWe will answer with payment info. Price 12€ + shipping costs. The magazine is bilingual (Finnish/English).

The magazine will be available to buy at selected bookstores, museums, and galleries and from the Mustarinda House. The list of places where the magazine will be available will be updated on the Mustarinda website and social media platforms.

Old-growth forests, as precious rarities in european contexts, maintain themselves over time through their diversity – each staggered process of growth and decay has an inherent value, as they contribute to an entangled performance where many communities weave their lives together.

Open Call – Blooming Ludus Green Forum

Hello Fellow Art Makers!

Blooming Ludus Green Forum is coming Jan 30th-31st – Atlantic(GMT-4) 8-11am / UK(GMT) 12-3pm / Korea(GMT+9) 9-12pm!

Building upon our Climate Justice Tea Time in October, this forum aims to create a language of solidarity around the climate crisis. What do we love and want to protect? What are our personal experiences and connections to climate change and how do they shape the work we make? Our forum is for all artists and art curious folks who want to meet like minded people and explore how art can be action in both our professional and personal lives.

In the spirit of learning from each other and the wider community, we are inviting proposals for programming! Do you have a workshop or discussion topic you would like to lead, a project you would like to share, a seed of an idea, a frustration you constantly come up against? Fill in this form so we can get a feel of what you want to share! If you struggle with words, video submissions are also acceptable – Email us at answering the questions below.

Deadline for submissions is Jan 10th! We aim to confirm all programming by Jan.15th. Not all submissions will be scheduled (we only have 6hrs across two days). We will prioritize activities and presentations that facilitate dialogue (try to stay away from pure lectures!). 

We aim to confirm all programming by Jan.15th. Not all submissions will be scheduled (we only have 6hrs across two days). We will prioritize activities and presentations that facilitate dialogue (try to stay away from pure lectures!). 

Please send us an email ( for any queries. We are looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you!


Opportunity: RSA Annual Exhibition 2021 – Call to Artists

Online submissions is now open for the RSA Annual Exhibition 2021.

The RSA Annual Exhibition is the most extensive exhibition of contemporary art and architecture in Scotland. Having been a mainstay of the academy’s calendar since its inception 195 years ago, the Annual Exhibition has evolved over the years, showcasing Scottish art alongside invited international artists, often including topical or political elements, to give an uncensored, independent voice to artists on issues that matter to them. For the first time in its history the 2020 Annual Exhibition was mounted online only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however we aim to return with a physical exhibition in the RSA galleries from 4 April – 9 May 2021, with all necessary safety precautions.

After the success of its re-introduction in 2019, the Open Art element will return once again in 2021 as a vital component of the RSA Annual Exhibition. Online submission is now open for the 2021 exhibition for works of any scale and in any fine art medium.

To submit work to be considered for the exhibition artists must register and complete the online application process at

Artists may submit up to TWO works of any dimensions in any fine art medium, including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, film, installation and performance.

An entry fee (inclusive of VAT) is required for each work: £15 per work / students £10 per work. There is also a £10 hanging fee for any work hung in the exhibition.

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday 3 February 2021 at 5pm.

Please read through the REGULATIONS and FAQs on our website before submitting work.

The post Opportunity: RSA Annual Exhibition 2021 – Call to Artists 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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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Interview with Sarah Hearn

Lessons From Other Life Around Us

Sarah Hearn works at the intersection of science and science-fiction by studying environmental creatures and phenomena. In this interview, Hearn discusses her process and inspiration for works that involve the largess of the sky to the tiniest most incredible beings.

Interview conducted by Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

You describe your work as hovering between “studies of life on planet earth” and in a “hazy atmosphere of science fiction.” Where do you experience the break between the two?

I believe this boundary between factual understanding of science and visionary predictions of science fiction sometimes collide and the various breaks between these two worlds are constantly shifting.  Our understanding about the universe around is forever bombarded with new knowledge. At times, these moments force us to shed previously held beliefs sometimes about the core of our beings, or types of matter lurking in our universe. These uncomfortable places of limited human knowledge are infinitely interesting.

Although I have several projects that are science fiction in nature, Symbiotic Cooperation, the Lichen Field Guide and and the Lichen Study Guide collaborations are examples of projects with the goal of scientific accuracy. I enjoy working in a variety of ways, so being able to tax both sides of my brain keeps things interesting. Having a range of projects in my practice feeds a strange creative/detail obsessed cycle.

I believe if we can be open to other kinds of intelligence, we could learn lessons from other life around us, about how to better adapt- even during something as extreme as climate collapse. These types of studies sound worth our time.

Parmotrema hypotropum, Urban Colonization, Colony 11, 15″ x 28″ hand-cut vinyl photographs for site-specific installation at Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discover Center, Summer 2015

Have there been discoveries you have made that have seemed like science fiction, but were real to earth (ex. Your work with Lichens)?

Yes, all the time. It’s true that the more you know, the more you realize how limited your knowledge is—you know?  But in general, I am so amazed by how weird tiny things are. I get excited thinking about the measurable electric current that pulses through all living things, and by the ability of microbes to survive a 120 million year deep freeze and come back to life in a lab over a few weeks (proof zombies are real). Lichens are excellent examples of alien-like terrestrial life. They cover an estimated 8% of the planet with an estimated 4,000-6,000 species in North America alone. We still have so much to learn from them. Lichen even survived space travel and intense exposure to the atmosphere. I have been working with them closely for 9 years now and I still learn new things from them all the time. They marvelously demonstrate how tiny life forms contain multitudes of power and different kinds of intelligence. The recent project, Astrobiological Futures has me thinking about potential space life forms and lichen like organisms don’t seem that far-fetched.

Staying connected to my natural environment is crucial for my creative and spiritual wellbeing. This work promotes learning to see beyond the human limits and reconstructing our ways of living with nature. When we feel more connected to our living environment, we tend to take better care of it.  I guess you could classify it as microactivism? Tiny changes with big impact.

Cumulus and Stratocumulus, 2016

What revelations did you have about the stratosphere while looking at so many images of clouds?

I grew up landlocked in Oklahoma—a place where homes and towns are frequently wrecked by the fickle mood of the weather. I remember learning how to tell a wall cloud from other cloud types at an early age. Ultimately this project grew out of a desire to know more about all the other clouds that appear and disappear so quickly above us. The world is constantly changing and observing clouds is a wonderful immediate reminder of this. Mamatus clouds are universally fascinating.

In “Above” you use frescos to present images of cloud types on their international weather systems symbols. Can you explain the choice of using frescos (an earth medium) to present the atmospheres and clouds?

The choice to transfer the images into fresco slurry was very intentional. I have roots in traditional photography and love darkroom printing. Making the switch to digital printing didn’t fill my personal need for a tactile, messy process. I had been using the symbols to code the project, but the work needed to exist beyond square or rectangular frame boundaries- suddenly I knew the symbol shapes were the solution. I developed the installation idea to hang them at different heights depending on where the clouds would occur in the atmosphere, ultimately these organic configurations feel like a weather system passing through a gallery space. Because I am using a fresco transfer process, no two are the same—a perfect analogy for clouds. For the frescos to set, I am dependent on the weather, I can only make them on drier days with mild temperature and low humidity. I love this need for cooperation to make this work- a beautiful reminder of our small place within an expansive universe.

Untitled drawing #6, 2016

Can you describe your process when creating an artwork? Do you collect things out of initial interest and then wait for inspiration through research or do you gather materials with a project in mind?

Well, there isn’t a single answer for this- ideas for projects come in different ways. I think of my art practice as a living breathing thing that changes, expands and contracts. I think I am always in conversation with the work I am researching and making; I am also receptive to new ideas as they come, but recognize they sometimes take years to come to fruition. So working with lichen came about from discovering it along the coast while working on another project focused entirely on ocean life. That was in 2009. It took me three full years before I began focusing on it and truly working with it. The first project working with it- the lichen was the conceptual framework- I set out to behave symbiotically, like lichen. I asked the public to mail small  samples of lichen to me. I photographed them, identified and cataloged them and donated them to a university herbarium. Each person who contributed lichen (or at least what they thought was lichen) received a small work of art, public recognition for their contribution and regular project updates on the project. Sometimes I set up the art making practices as a formula with strict rules—this was the case for an Unnatural History. The drawings where a strict size, all were printed in the color darkroom, each was mounted to a 8” x 8” plate and all were presented with their elemental symbol and atomic number. Many creatures in the catalog were real, and many were fictional, but the set of rules, leveled the viewing field and viewers start to make assumptions about the veracity of information in front of them. Other times, I just make art—I don’t think, I just let myself be creative and respond to the things I am currently thinking about.

Many of your works use bright colors on dark or black backgrounds. Can you talk about this choice and its relationship to both color theory and the scientific process?

The color choices are definitely influenced by my roots in the color darkroom. For years I was drawing negatives and printing them- so the drawings were always the color reverse of what I wanted the prints to be and because they are photograms—they float in a dark background. It seems as I’ve continued to make new work, much of this same color palate and aesthetic prevails. As for the choices for black backgrounds, and stark white backgrounds: yes, they are visually connected to darkroom photograms, but this choice also mimics formal scientific illustration where the subject presented by the artist is often isolated from its surroundings.

Artificial Colony #11, 2015

For many, including myself, the pandemic has brought us to spend more time in natural environments. How do you feel like the lock-down situations has affected your practice and goals as an artist?

Well, like many, my life has changed dramatically during the pandemic. I wish I could say the first 6 months were positive, but I was living in some kind of hyper-excited-over-tired state working full time (not from home!), managing a four-year-old whose child care went “online” and trying to stay on top of my art practice. Needless to say, it wasn’t sustainable. Spending time in nature, cooking and baking have gotten me through the difficult days, weeks, and months. In September, I made the decision to step down from my full-time position as an arts administrator and focus on my personal art career and my family. My goals for my art practice have come into full focus again and it’s feeling wonderful to give the work the time and space it needs grow.  As someone who has juggled a little too much for far too long, I am so thankful for this transition.

Sarah Hearn is an interdisciplinary visual artist and citizen researcher. Through explorations of biological life and natural phenomena, her work inhabits two realm; one grounded in studies of life on planet earth, and another hovering in a hazy atmosphere of science fiction. Hearn’s work was presented in the 2018 exhibition, Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas. Recent solo exhibitions include: Microtopia and Accumulation at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City; An Unnatural History at Art Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, AR; and Invisible Landscapes at University of Notre Dame. Hearn earned a BFA from the College of Santa Fe, and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.

(Top photo: Foliose Fruticose Reconsiliation, 2018)


ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Opportunity: RSA Annual Exhibition 2021 – Call to Architects

Online submissions are now open for the RSA Annual Exhibition 2021.

We are delighted to announce that the RSA Open Exhibition of Architecture is returning once again this spring as part of the 195th RSA Annual Exhibition. On view from 4 April – 9 May 2021, the exhibition will showcase a diverse range of contemporary art and architecture from our Royal Scottish Academicians, plus artists and architects carefully selected from online open submissions.

The Open Architecture element aims to highlight some of the most interesting current architectural practices across Scotland and beyond.

Online submission is now open for the 2021 exhibition for works of any scale and in any suitable architectural medium – including models/3D, drawing, photography and film/animations.

To submit work to be considered for the exhibition architects must register and complete the online application process at

Architects may submit up to TWO works of any dimensions in any suitable medium, including drawing, photography, print, film and models/3D.

An entry fee (inclusive of VAT) is required for each work: £25 per work / students £10 per work. There is also a £10 hanging fee for any work hung in the exhibition.

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 5pm.

Please read the REGULATIONS and FAQs on our website before submitting work.

The post Opportunity: RSA Annual Exhibition 2021 – Call to Architects 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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PhD candidate, Emma Hall, joins Creative Carbon Scotland

Back in June 2020, Creative Carbon Scotland announced a successful PhD funding proposal to the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow.

Applications were invited and interviews for the position were conducted in late July. Now, it is with great pleasure that we announce Emma Hall, a recent Masters graduate, has begun working with us as a collaborative doctoral researcher. To update you on the project, we thought we would ask Emma a few questions:

CCS: Emma, congratulations on your studentship! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

EH: Thank you, I’m so pleased to be working on the project! I grew up in Birmingham, but I’ve always had a love of the outdoors and spent as much time as possible with my grandparents in Snowdonia, Wales. My favourite hobbies were running, climbing and hiking – until I injured my ankle! Now, I lead a more laid-back lifestyle and enjoy reading, cooking or swimming in my spare time. Having moved to Glasgow in September, I’ve loved getting out into the hills on the weekends and will be exploring all the art galleries and museums once they open again.

CCS: And what is the project you’ll be working on? 

EH: The project is titled ‘Assessing arts-based interventions for sustainable practice’ and, my role will be to reflect critically (and constructively!) on a range of Creative Carbon Scotland’s cultural projects, with particular focus on activities in the culture/SHIFT programme. Over the next three years, I’ll be evaluating the success of the interventions at engaging communities and motivating sustainable change. The overall aim of the project is to develop an open-access framework that cultural organisations and funders can use to make informed decisions when designing or assessing arts interventions.

CCS: What interests you about the project?

EH: I’m interested in this project because it is so interdisciplinary and collaborative. Initially, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature before transitioning to work as an environmental policy advisor back home in the West Midlands. I subsequently retrained abroad in Gibraltar with an MSc in Marine Science and Climate Change, undertaking fieldwork on marine protected areas and citizen engagement in the Mediterranean. The research I’ll be conducting in this project spans all my interests – from the arts to the sciences to climate policy – enabling me to reconcile my rather unusual mix of academic interests and providing the opportunity to work collaboratively with CCS to develop useful project outputs.

CCS: What challenges do think will come up for you, or have any come up already?

EH: Hmm, it’s early days so far, but I have noticed there is currently a lack of scholarship on the transformative role of the arts in stimulating social change. This knowledge gap could make the project more challenging, but it means the research will also contribute towards evidencing an under-explored area of scholarship. Whilst I enjoy the interdisciplinarity of the project, I’ve found that it does complicate the literature review process as there are more topics to get my head around! My role as an embedded researcher at CCS is helpful in bringing the academic readings out of the ivory tower and into conversation with the practical context of the project.

CCS: What are you looking forward to?

EH: I’m looking forward to getting started on the evaluation side of the project after the literature review. I’ll be using different social science methods (like interviews and focus groups) to evaluate the culture/SHIFT projects and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these can occur in person, rather than online. It has been lovely getting to know the Creative Carbon Scotland team and my supervisors at the University of Glasgow (Dr Tom Bartlett and Dr Rhys Williams) over Zoom in the last few months but, I’m also looking forward to finally meeting them all face to face in the new year!

CCS: Thanks, Emma and good luck with the project. We’re thrilled about it and are looking forward to working with you over the next three and a half years.

If you would like to get in touch with Emma, please email

The post PhD candidate, Emma Hall, joins Creative Carbon Scotland 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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