Monthly Archives: March 2021

The World’s First Energy Crisis (Hint: It’s Not Oil)

By Joan Sullivan

This post is part of an ongoing series of occasional musings about the larger context in which we currently find ourselves: an energy transition, of which there have been several throughout human history. I have chosen Barry Lord’s important book, Art & Energy: How Culture Changes as our guide, because it sheds much-needed light on the reciprocal relationship between art, artists, and energy transitions through the ages. I also draw inspiration from the emerging field of Energy Humanities, led by Imre Szeman and his colleagues at the University of Alberta and the University of Waterloo in Canada. For previous posts in this series, please check here.

My favorite chapter in Barry Lord’s book, Art & Energy: How Culture Changes, is about the world’s first energy crisis. For those of us who lived through the 1973 oil embargo, we would be forgiven for thinking that the world’s first energy crisis was about oil. In fact, the first energy crisis – emerging in the late 16th century and continuing through the early 18th – was about wood. 

Just stop for a minute and think about the limited choice of energy sources available to fuel human ingenuity since our earliest settlements. It was wood that fed the voracious appetites of the many fire-based industries invented by sapiens throughout the ages: salt works; Copper, Bronze and Iron age smelters and foundries; kilns for pottery, glassblowing and brick-making; ovens for bread; and open stoves to render tallow for soap and candle making. And let’s not forget the ubiquitous breweries! 

But it wasn’t just wood, as in logs or charcoal, that were in high demand. It was whole forests, as Lord soberly reminds us:

The production of steel sword blades required whole forests, especially as it became necessary to achieve higher and higher temperatures. Tin, the key ingredient of bronze, melts at 232°C, but copper needs more than 1,000°C, and iron has the highest melting point – 1,528°C. From the beginning of the Bronze and Iron Ages, one of the major reasons for deforestation even in climates that did not require so much firewood in the winter (e.g., in southern Europe), was this need for large quantities of wood to smelt metals.

The “age of wood” refers to the period that stretched from prehistory to the second half of the 18th century, according to the emerging field of Energy Humanities. I’m reminded of a scene in HBO’s award-winning Game of Thrones of a smoky, wood-fired forge in which Gendry, the bastard blacksmith, is testing one of his renowned swords in front of an unimpressed Arya. 

It’s difficult for most of us “moderns” to truly appreciate just how important wood was in pre-industrial societies. Wood was absolutely indispensable, both as a primary energy source and as an important building material; there was simply no other source of heat so readily accessible as a nearby forest. Wood could be credited for single-handedly fueling a cascade of technological and social advancements, including weapons of war, across several millennia. In Chapter 9, Lord cites an estimate that 90% of all trees cut down prior to 1800 were destined to be burned.

In addition to the fire-based industries, whole forests were burned to clear land for farms, for animal grazing, for mills and other development. Forests were also decimated for their timber. Large oaks in particular were prized for ships’ masts. Timber was also the material of choice to construct palaces, places of worship, barns, stables, and fences. Furniture, musical instruments, wagons, boats, and tools were all crafted from wood. And of course, wood was required for cooking and domestic heating. So it was only a matter of time until “a global forest that once was,” according to Shakespearean scholar Vin Nardizzi, was no more. 

By the end of the 16th century, the forests surrounding London had been stripped bare. “No wood, no Kingdome” was a cri de coeur published in a 1611 pamphlet that raised alarms about deforestation in late Elizabethan England. It is also the title of the opening chapter in Richard Rhodes’ captivating book Energy: A Human History. We learn that London’s severe wood shortage prompted Shakespeare and his friends, in 1598, to steal the timbers from their old playhouse (while the landlord was away) in order to build their new open-roofed, twenty-sided wooden polygon Globe Theatre on the other side of the Thames. A year later, the Globe opened with its first play: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

According to Lord, although deforestation as a phenomenon was not new, societal concern about it was. He provides a few historical anecdotes that help us understand the growing tensions, starting in the later Middle Ages, between the ruling classes (nobility, monarchy) and commoners (peasants, serfs). The latter were routinely punished with imprisonment, torture, or execution if they were caught cutting wood for their own use on land that belonged to their overlords. However, there was one important exception to this ruling: when the wind blew down a large tree or broke off some of its branches, peasants were allowed to take the wood. Hence the expression “windfall” – an unexpected good fortune that must have meant so much to landless peasants.

Photo by Joan Sullivan

These simmering tensions between commoners and the aristocracy inspired a new oral literary culture – in the form of ballads and legends such as Robin Hood stealing from wealthy land owners (i.e., those who controlled access to forests) and giving to the landless poor (no access to forests). 

By 1615, we see one of the earliest attempts at energy conversation: England’s King James I issued a ban on burning firewood for glass production by declaring that “the great waste of timber in making glass is a matter of serious concern.” 

One hundred years later, two alternative responses to the energy crisis were proposed in Germany, including finding alternatives to wood (such as peat and coal) and inventing new machines that could produce more heat with less wood. 

By the end of the 18th century, mounting anxiety about deforestation across Europe climaxed. Revolution was in the air. According to Lord, the widespread perception of crisis was linked to the privatization of land formerly owned by the commune and available to all: “the sense of uncertainty about the future led people to question the ancien régime, and also to acknowledge the possibility – finally the necessity – of a revolutionary change in the way society was ordered.” 

Sound familiar? We sapiens would be wise to learn from the past. Do 21st century citizens have the moxie, like our 18th century forebears, to radically change the way society is ordered? Looking back, we see how humanity has survived previous energy transitions, and it will undoubtedly do so again. Artists can help us get there more quickly, as they have since the age of wood.

Lord ends this chapter by preparing readers for the next energy transition: the transition from wood to coal, an energy source “that would soon shape our world more profoundly than any other.” While coal would effectively “solve” the energy crisis created by global deforestation, it would unleash its own environmental, climatic and public health challenges that persist to this day. The “age of coal” led inexorably to the “age of man” – the Anthropocene.

I will dive into the transition to coal and its associated “culture of production” in a future post.

(Top image by Joan Sullivan.)

This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.


Joan Sullivan is a Canadian photographer focused on the energy transition. In her monthly column for Artists and Climate Change, Joan explores the intersection of art and the energy transition. She is currently experimenting with abstract photography as a new language to express her grief about climate breakdown. You can find Joan on Twitter and Visura.


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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Climate Beacons for COP26 – applications now open

Pioneering ‘Climate Beacons’ to bring together culture and green sectors for COP26 public engagement across Scotland.

Applications are now open for partnerships made up of Scotland-based organisations across the cultural and environmental sectors [1] to apply to take part in Climate Beacons for COP26.  

Climate Beacons for COP26 is an innovative project that will harness the cultural sector’s unique power to deliver deep-rooted public engagement with climate change through the once-in-a-generation opportunity of COP26 (‘Conference of the Parties’, the UN Climate Summit) coming to Glasgow in November. It will seize this chance to bring about lasting change within the cultural sector, society and policy in Scotland and provide an internationally inspiring example of Scotland’s climate leadership.   

This project will pair leading organisations in artscultureheritageclimate sciencepolicythe public sector, and civil society to form ‘Climate Beacons’ that will work in close collaboration to develop lasting public engagement with climate change in the lead-up to, during and after COP26. The Beacons will be situated around Scotland in a wide variety of locations, strengthening engagement with COP26 beyond Glasgow to the whole country and supporting the recovery of Scotland’s cultural sector from the impacts of COVID-19.   

Learning from the successes and failures of previous COP artistic programmes[2], Climate Beacons for COP26 will promote greater collaboration between the cultural and climate sectors, distribute activity more broadly and accessibly, and ensure that there is a long-term legacy beyond the UN Climate talks. It is now recognised that climate change is as much a socio-cultural issue as it is a technical, scientific, economic, or political one. With its ability to influence society, the cultural sector therefore has an essential role to play in addressing it.   

Creative Carbon Scotland is co-ordinating the project, bringing our existing expertise as a unique connecting role between sectors as well as learnings from ongoing research and collaborations. A steering group of ‘co-ordinating partners’ provides additional advice, contacts and networks. These partners are leading sector organisations and development bodies: Architecture and Design ScotlandCreative Scotland, the Edinburgh Climate Change InstituteMuseums Galleries Scotland, the Scottish Library and Information Council, and the Sustainable Scotland Network.

The project is funded by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, and Museums Galleries Scotland among others.   

The Climate Beacons will launch ahead of COP26 and continue to operate until mid-2022. Beacons will make use of the shared resources and knowledge of cultural venues and climate organisations to provide a welcoming physical and virtual space for conversation about COP26 and climate action between members of the public, artists and cultural sector professionals, environmental NGOs and wider civil society, scientists, and policymakers.  

Ben Twist, director of Creative Carbon Scotland, said: ‘The presence of the COP26 talks in Glasgow this year represents a major opportunity to boost climate action in Scotland. At Creative Carbon Scotland, we have witnessed the enthusiasm of arts organisations around the country for contributing to this activity. Climate Beacons provides an opportunity to direct the skills and resources of the arts sector into deep-seated and long-lasting public engagement that will ensure that this momentum continues long after the COP26 negotiations have concluded.’  

Dave Reay, executive director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, said: ‘Creative Carbon Scotland has a proven track record of bringing together innovative collaborations between the cultural and climate sectors. The ambitious Climate Beacons project will share that expertise, setting up partnerships that will focus on engaging the public with COP26 but that will also establish connections and learning that will persist long into the future.’  

Applications are open to all Scottish-based organisations. For more information, including criteria and FAQs, and to apply, please visit our Climate Beacons for COP26 project pageNB: The application form is towards to the end of the page.

The closing date is 10th May at 9am, with successful partnerships announced at the end of May.


Lewis Coenen-Rowe, culture/SHIFT officer,, 07741457824  


[1] We define ‘culture’ here as encompassing the arts, heritage, crafts, creative industries, and design, including voluntary as well as professional organisations. We define ‘environmental’ organisations as any for whom some of or all their focus is on addressing the challenges (and opportunities) posed by environmental issues such as climate change. This could include local and national authorities, public bodies, NGOs and charities, community organisations, education institutions or businesses. 

[2] Our findings from a survey of previous arts and culture engagements with COPs are available here:


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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Science Art Net Zero

ecoartspace is pleased to host the Scientist Artist Net Zero (SANZ) policy initiative on our website for ecoartists to participate as full partners in policy decisions regarding the climate crisis. ecoartspace shares the Biden administration’s vision for an existential and pragmatic race to net-zero. We invite you to join us in the effort to amplify outreach and effect systemic changes towards that goal.

Please access further information about the SANZ initiative here and add your signature HERE.



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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Thinking About Water on World Water Day

By Susan Hoffman Fishman

Think About Water (TAW) is a newly-formed collective of 28 international eco-artists and activists whose work addresses global water issues. The organization has scheduled its first exhibition, also called “Think About Water,” to open today, March 22, in commemoration of World Water Day. (Please see details about the opening reception below.) Originating in 1993, World Water Day celebrates water, calls attention to the 2.2 billion people around the world without access to clean water, and urges individuals to become engaged in efforts to combat the global water crisis. Similarly, the goal of TAWand its member artists is to “interpret, celebrate, and defend water.” 

Think About Water is the brainchild of its founder, Fredericka Foster. The idea to create a group of artists who are passionate about water derived from her experience guest curating a large-scale exhibition titled “The Value of Water,” which was held at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 2011. Surrounded by 200 works of art on water-related issues, she experienced a profound sense of awe and spiritual connection to this basic element of life. Notable artists in the Cathedral exhibition included, among many others, video artist Bill Viola, conceptual artist Jenny Holtzer, multi-disciplinary artist Robert Longo, and painter/printmaker Pat Steir.

Over the years, Foster stayed informed about and connected with some of the artists in the show and, in the back of her mind, was thinking about developing a formal organization that would provide a supportive community for them (and her). She subsequently became a water activist and devoted her own work as a painter to “our relationship to water; its physicality and resonance in the body; its environmental and socioeconomic forces, psychological meaning, and transformative properties.”

Fredericka Foster, River Revisited, oil on canvas, 40” x 60,” 2017-2021

In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closings of museums and galleries and cut artists off from any physical social contact, Foster had the time to realize her plan. She hoped to create a virtual group that would provide companionship during this time of extreme isolation, a clearing house for resources and information, and a collective voice that could advocate for relevant water concerns. She grew the group primarily through word of mouth and the suggestions of member artists. (Full disclosure: I am a proud member of TAW.) This past year, Think About Water sponsored a postcard project aimed at encouraging voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election using the non-partisan phrase “Vote for Water,” and began planning its first exhibition.

Think About Water,” (the exhibition) is a three-month virtual show presented through an interactive VR gallery, curated by TAW artist Doug Fogelson. The 23 participating artists represented in the exhibition have years of experience and powerful bodies of acclaimed work pertaining to a range of global water issues. They are painters, photographers, filmmakers, as well as mixed media, social engagement, performance, land, and installation artists who have a sustained commitment to and respect for water. In addition to showing the works of art in a gallery-like space, the exhibition includes brief explanations of the pieces by each artist and a link to their individual websites.  

Fogelson admitted that his job as curator was made easier by the fact that he was curating artwork by artists who had already been curated into the collective rather than seeking them out on his own. His other curatorial experiences include the exhibition “Water in Art” at the Fresh Water Lab, University of Illinois at Chicago, which was developed in conjunction with the academic symposium, “Water After Borders;” and most notably, as a co-founder of the Filter Space Gallery in Chicago, a nonprofit site supporting the photographic community in the Midwest.

Doug Fogelson, Headwaters No. 20 (Iceland), chemically altered film, ink jet print, 15” x 35,” 2019

Four TAW artists, representing a range of approaches to the topic of water and using a wide variety of materials, met with me recently via Zoom to discuss their work in the exhibition.


In her mixed-media painting, We Cling to Beauty While the World Around Us Falls Apart, New Haven-based artist Leila Daw combines Burmese tapestry and acrylic to depict the drainage basin of a great river. The pure water and pristine forests dotted with indigenous settlements at the top of the painting deteriorate into mud and destruction towards the middle and bottom of the piece with allusions to industrial sewage and other manmade interventions. Daw uses Burmese tapestry regularly in her work and for many years traveled on an annual basis to Myanmar to purchase the product. She stumbled upon the material while she was visiting the country for the first time and realized that its golden thread and metallic sequins are reminiscent of sparkling water and would be perfect for what she wanted to convey. Daw also utilizes the beautiful cloth to seduce the viewer into looking closely at her paintings instead of being turned away immediately by the seriousness of the ecological destruction she addresses. 

Leila Daw, We Cling to Beauty While the World Around Us Falls Apart, Burmese tapestry and acrylic, 66” x 28,” 2021

For Middle Delaware – Musconetcong DrawingLauren Rosenthal McManus also uses a map to depict a portion of a river basin, but in contrast to Daw’s objectives, her intention is to encourage viewers to recognize the fractal connections between their own vascular systems and river ecologies. Working with natural materials, including rocks and soils from the locations in which her work is exhibited, she makes her own pigments. Her subtractive drawing process mimics erosion to “evoke the way that rivers mark their paths on the earth.” She installed Middle Delaware – Musconetcong Drawing directly onto the wall at Artyard in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Her map, which originally measured 12’ tall by 8’ wide, contains no boundaries imposed upon the land by political entities and so flows without artificial borders. McManus is especially interested in engaging with local community members in urban environments using participatory activities in order to strengthen their connections to the land. 

Lauren Rosenthal McManus, Middle Delaware – Musconetcong Drawing, ground rock, water and gum arabic on wall, 12 ft. x 8 ft., 2017

Lisa Reindorf draws upon her background as both an architect and artist to create paintings that address the conflict between manmade and natural environments. In Tsunami City, the rigid geometric forms of buildings in an unnamed city contrast with the wild movement of the sea, which is encroaching upon the unnatural structures. Having grown up in Central Mexico, Reindorf is drawn to the bold and vibrant colors that are its artistic heritage and has always been aware of the importance of barrier beaches that protect the natural shoreline. In the battle between nature and manmade interventions, “it is nature,” she says, “that always wins.”  

 Lisa Reindorf, Tsunami City, oil and acrylic on panel, 40” x 60,” 2020

Blue by  Naoe Suzuki  holds special meaning for the Boston-based artist. Dating back to 2011, it was the first work of art that she made relating to water. That year, she spent a month at the Blue Mountain Center’s artist residency in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Swimming daily in very cold lake water, she experienced what she refers to as its cleansing and healing powers. She also began thinking about the bodies of water throughout the world that were not in this pristine condition because they had been impacted adversely by pollution and the climate crisis. The drawing that emerged represented her newfound commitment to exploring the environment and addressing water-related issues. Ten feet long and made using mineral pigment, walnut ink, and tea on paper, Blue references the tradition of Japanese scrolls, telling a story in which water plays a central role. 

Additional artists in the exhibition include Diane Burko, Betsy Damon, Rosalyn Driscoll, Giana Pilar Gonzalez, Susan Hoffman Fishman, Fritz Horstman, Basia Irland, Ellen Kozak, Stacy Levy, Anna McLeod, Ilana Manolson, Randal Nichols Jaanika Peerna, Aviva Rahmani, Meridel Rubenstein, Linda Troeller and Adam Wolpert.

Naoe Suzuki, Blue, mineral pigment, micro pigment pen, walnut ink, and tea on paper, 42” x 120,” 2011

One of the advantages of hosting a virtual opening reception is the ability to include colleagues, friends, and interested individuals from all over the world. The opening reception for “Think About Water” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, March 22. All of the participating artists will speak very briefly (1 minute each) about their work, after which there will be time for questions and social interaction. Additional events, including panel discussions related to the exhibition’s theme, will be announced through social media and on the collective’s website. 

Click here for more info about the exhibition or to RSVP for the opening reception

All images courtesy of the artists.

This article is part of Imagining Water, a series on artists of all genres who are making the topic of water and climate disruption a focus of their work and on the growing number of exhibitions, performances, projects and publications that are appearing in museums, galleries and public spaces around the world with water as a theme.


Susan Hoffman Fishman is a painter, public artist and writer whose work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. Since 2011, all of her paintings, installations and photographs have addressed water and climate change. She co-created a national, participatory public art project, The Wave, which addresses our mutual need for and interdependence on water and which has inspired thousands of adults and children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to protect this vital resource. Her most recent body of work calls attention to the growing number of rampikes along our shores – trees that have been exposed to salt water and died as a result of rising tides.


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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Unfix in conversation

ecoartscotland has worked with UNFIX, the DIY festival of performance on several occasions, including in 2019 when we hosted Christiana Bisset’s embedded artist project. Chris Fremantle and Anne Douglas also performed at UNFIX 2019, with selected readings from the works of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. 

With the next iteration of UNFIX planned for this summer, possibly with some haptic elements as well as some digital, Chris Fremantle met with Paul Michael Henry and Ane Lopez. They discussed performance as everyday life, what UNFIX stands for and how it relates to other projects that question our culture, as well as the climate emergency.

UNFIX 2021 is in partnership with The Barn in Aberdeenshire as well as CCA in Glasgow, and the Open Call for Proposals (deadline 2 April) includes opportunities to work with both those organisations.

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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Embodied Forest: Call for Artists

DEADLINE May 15, 2021

Embodied Forest is the title of the fall ecoartspace online exhibition + book that will launch September 1, 2021. Applicants whose work addresses our human relationship with trees and forests are encouraged to apply.

In the context of this exhibition, the term embodied can be understood as the act of giving a body to something intangible; to incarnate; to stand in the same place of; to become part of a collective body; to personify; or to empathize. The subject matter of your work for Embodied Forest will address the worlds of trees and forests including though not limited to companion species, microbes, root systems, mushrooms, birds, fungus, moss, lichen, mist/fog/water, insects, spiders, parasites, bacteria, etc.

The entanglements of a forest are unlimited and we are seeking to represent an in-depth examination of the interconnectedness of trees with all living things including humans. All mediums are accepted and will include performance, sound and video. Abstraction is also encouraged.

Since June 2020 ecoartspace has held a monthly Zoom dialogue with member artists presenting their work about trees. Sant Khalsa, curator of Tree Talk and founder of the Joshua Tree Center For Photographic Arts will be co-hosting this monthly dialogue through the end of 2021. A select group of artists from Embodied Forest will be featured in upcoming events.

You must be a ecoartspace member to apply

(please email if you’re financially impacted and would like to apply)JURORS

Lilian Fraiji is a curator and producer based in the Amazon, Brazil and is the co-founder of LABVERDE program, a project dedicated to developing multidisciplinary content involving art, science and nature. As an independent researcher Fraiji is interested in how culture is related to nature and how the landscape is shaped in the Anthropocene. She has curated several art exhibitions involving the subject of Nature including in 2019, How to Talk with Trees and Irreversível, and in 2018, Invisible Landscape. Currently, Fraiji is the curator of the online Festival called Tomorrow is Now and is collaborating with Sonic Matter: The Witness (Festival in Swiss) and the SIM São Paulo. She is a specialist in Cultural Management from Barcelona University and has a Master’s degree in Curating Arts from the University of Ramon Llull, Barcelona. In 2020 Fraiji was awarded the Serrapilheira prize for contributing to democratizing science.

Giovanni Aloi is an author, curator and educator specializing in the histories of art and politics of aesthetics in representations of nature in art. He’s the Editor in Chief of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture and US Correspondent for Esse Magazine – Art + Opinion. Aloi is co-editor of the University of Minnesota series Art after Nature, and has authored four books including Why Look at Plants? – The Vegetal World in Contemporary Art (2019) and Lucian Freud – Herbarium (2019). He lectures at museums and universities internationally and has taught at Queen Mary University of London, Goldsmiths, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Aloi received his Ph.D. in natural history and contemporary art from Goldsmiths University of London and has worked as an educator at Whitechapel Art Gallery and Tate Galleries.


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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Conscient Podcast: e30 maggs

Complexity is the world built of relationships and it’s a very different thing to engage what is true or real in a complexity framework than it is to engage in it, in what is a modernist Western enlightenment ambition, to identify the absolute objective properties that are intrinsic in any given thing. Everyone is grappling with the fact that the world is exhibiting itself so much in these entanglements of relationships. The arts are completely at home in that world. And so, we’ve been sort of under the thumb of the old world. We’ve always been a kind of second-class citizen in an enlightenment rationalist society. But once we move out of that world and we move into a complexity framework, suddenly the arts are entirely at home and we have capacity in that world that a lot of other sectors don’t have. What I’ve been trying to do with this report (Art and the World After This) is articulate the way in which these different disruptions are putting us in a very different reality and it’s a reality in which we go from being a kind of secondary entertaining class to, maybe, having a capacity to sit at the heart of a lot of really critical problem-solving challenges.

david maggs, conscient podcast, march 25, 2021, vancouver

David Maggs grew up in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and spent much of his developmental years as a classical pianist. In 2002, David founded Gros Morne Summer Music, a music festival that has grown into a year-round interdisciplinary arts festival.  As an academic, Maggs addresses issues of culture and sustainability. His paper, Art and the World After This, was published by the Metcalf Foundation on April 28, 2021, which I encourage everyone to read and circulate. Also of interest is his Metcalf Innovation Fellow David Maggs writes about arts and COVID for new collaboration with The Philanthropist.

e30 maggs was recorded in Quichena Park, Vancouver on March 25, 2021. It was my first recording of season 2 so you might hear some nervousness and excitement in my voice (David was very calm, thankfully). 

David and I exchanged on a wide range of issues including connections between artistic capacity and sustainability issues, ‘reality’, how the arts sector can rethink its unique value proposition, disruption, indigenous knowledge, the recovery of the arts sector after the covid crisis, etc. 

As I did in all episode in season 2, I integrated excerpts from e19 reality into this episode as interludes. 

I would like to thank David for taking the time to speak with me, for sharing his deep knowledge of cultural and sustainability policy and for his vision of a much larger role for the arts sector in the climate emergency.  

For more information on David’s work, see


e30 maggs (traduction)

La complexité est le monde construit de relations et c’est une chose très différente de s’engager dans ce qui est vrai ou réel dans un cadre de complexité que de s’y engager, dans ce qui est une ambition occidentale moderniste, de l’époque des Lumières (enlightenment), d’identifier les propriétés objectives absolues qui sont intrinsèques à toute chose donnée. Tout le monde est aux prises avec le fait que le monde s’expose tellement dans ces enchevêtrements de relations. Les arts sont complètement à l’aise dans ce monde. Et donc, nous avons été en quelque sorte sous la coupe de l’ancien monde. Nous avons toujours été une sorte de citoyen de seconde classe dans une société rationaliste de l’époque des Lumières. Mais une fois que nous sortons de ce monde et que nous entrons dans un cadre de complexité, les arts sont tout à fait à leur place et nous avons une capacité dans ce monde que beaucoup d’autres secteurs n’ont pas. Ce que j’ai essayé de faire avec ce rapport (Art and the World After This), c’est d’articuler la manière dont ces différentes perturbations nous placent dans une réalité très différente, une réalité dans laquelle nous passons d’une sorte de classe secondaire de divertissement à, peut-être, une capacité à prendre notre place au cœur de la résolution d’un grand nombre de problèmes vraiment critiques.

david maggs, balado conscient, 25 mars 2021, vancouver

David Maggs a grandi à Corner Brook, à Terre-Neuve, et a passé une grande partie de ses années de développement en tant que pianiste classique. En 2002, il a fondé Gros Morne Summer Music, un festival de musique qui est devenu un festival d’arts interdisciplinaires ouvert toute l’année.  En tant qu’universitaire, M. Maggs s’intéresse aux questions de culture et de durabilité. Son article, Art and the World After This, a été publié par la Metcalf Foundation le 23 avril 2021. J’encourage tous à le lire et à le faire circuler. Il est également intéressant de noter que son Metcalf Innovation Fellow David Maggs writes about arts and COVID for new collaboration with The Philanthropist.

e30 maggs a été enregistré au parc Quichena, à Vancouver, le 25 mars 2021. C’était mon premier enregistrement de la saison 2 du balado conscient, vous pouvez donc entendre un peu de nervosité et d’excitation dans ma voix (David était très calme, heureusement). 

David et moi avons échangé sur un large éventail de sujets, notamment les liens entre la capacité artistique et les questions de durabilité, la “réalité”, la façon dont le secteur artistique peut repenser sa proposition de valeur unique, la perturbation, le savoir autochtone, le redressement du secteur artistique après la crise COVID, etc. 

Comme je l’ai fait dans tous les épisodes de cette 2 saison, j’ai intégré des extraits de e19 reality dans cet épisode comme interludes. 

Je tiens à remercier David d’avoir pris le temps de s’entretenir avec moi, d’avoir partagé ses connaissances approfondies en matière de politique culturelle et de durabilité et d’avoir exprimé sa vision d’un rôle beaucoup plus important pour le secteur artistique dans le cadre de l’urgence climatique.

Pour en savoir plus sur le travail de David, voir

The post e30 maggs appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.


About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

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Wild Authors: Tlotlo Tsamaase

By Mary Woodbury

This month we travel to the world of Botswana author Tlotlo Tsamaase, whose short story “Eclipse Our Sins” rocked me in a good way. You can read it at Clarkesworld. I featured this story in my last article at Medium, Part II of my Around the World in 80 Books series, which examines climate- and ecological-themed fiction from everywhere. I was so happy to finally touch base with Tlotlo and talk about “Eclipse” as well as her other writing and work. “Eclipse Our Sins” cries out against the grotesque evolution of our world and how nature has been suffocated in the hands of takers and users. It’s a brilliant, riveting prose-like story in which stark imagery comes alive, painting a crime-ridden place where evil-doings against natural landscape and culture go hand in hand.


Your writing includes fiction (mostly speculative or horror), poetry, and architectural articles. I attended an Ecocity summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, so I was drawn to that architectural aspect of your work and would love it if you could talk some about eco-cities.

I’m going to outright quote an article I wrote some years back for Boidus Focus, a local built-environment newspaper, which is a bit relevant to this question: “Eco-cities illustrate the scramble to reinvent cities in juxtaposition to their sibling-cities with a core focus on sustainability. Eco-cities are synonymous to built-from-scratch, self-reliant satellite cities that maintain an eco-friendly environment from which everyone can lead healthy and economic lifestyles. Ultimately, this would mitigate the congestion in urban areas. As such, there is the escalating environmental concern regarding global population, which is estimated to reach around 10 billion in 2050 from its current 7-billion state. On a larger scale, eco-cities have been experimented with, like Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, PlanIT Valley in Portugal, Tianjin Eco-city in China, Amanora Hills in India, etc. Other African eco-cities are Konza Techno City in Nairobi (claimed as Africa’s Silicon Valley), Appolonia in Ghana, Roma Park in Zambia and Angola’s ghost town Luanda is Nova Cidade de Kilamba, amongst a few.”

The unfortunate thing is that sometimes these big ideas are hemmed in by corruption and an abandonment of the very sustainable ideas a country is trying to uphold. This keeps out the necessary professionals or even the issues on the ground – like poverty – and ultimately the eco-city either becomes a ghost town or less sustainable than it set out to be.

Can you describe what gives impulse to your fiction and poetry?

Firstly, writing comes from a place of passion. And most often it’s a need to process issues in our world – racism, climate change, gender-based violence, culture, technology etc. – in a way that is consumable to a reader through plot and characterization. But the interesting thing is manipulating our reality by exploring an alternative world and its ideas. Writing is also a blank page to paint your pain across, a very cathartic experience depending on the topic and themes. The beauty of writing allows one to read from different perspectives and see how the other side of the world lives or dreams. These, I believe, give me ideas that trigger me to start writing.

When I researched for a recent article at Medium, which goes around the world exploring eco-fiction, I walked away with great discoveries, which is how I found your story “Eclipse Our Sins.” The article spotlights 10-12 pieces of fiction from every continent. Trying to sample the continent of Africa is interesting, as works are so diverse. Some of the common themes I’ve seen include colonialism, the spiritual world, and speculative fiction such as Africanfuturism. Where do you write from, and how do place and environment inform your writing?

I write from many places. The thing about speculative fiction is you can bend reality and create an entirely different universe by either extrapolating our current-day issues or turning them on their head and seeing how that affects a family, a character, or even a village. Basically, I try to analyze the micro and macro parts of our world, whilst dissecting emotions through the lens of climate change. In one way, a writer can create a utopian universe, freeing its characters from the oppressive conflicts of our current reality, although conflict always rises. In another way, writers can process the dark side of our world. “Murders Fell From Our Wombs” comes to mind, a horror that explores gender-based violence in a murderous village. One tries to analyze the psychology of abuse, racism, and its effect on the person, the community.

My first year studying architecture was such a culture shock; we didn’t know what it took to turn buildings into reality. What it takes to root architecture to a place is the environment, the land, the people, the culture. A building either ignores these elements or embraces them. We’d go out to a site to analyze and document the culture of the area as well as the natural environment, such as topography, wind and rain, soil details, the patterns of people’s movements, their daily activities, local materials, culture, and rituals. If we didn’t respond in any way to this analysis, our lecturers called our designs “floating designs;” they could literally be put anywhere in the world and you wouldn’t be able to tell where they came from or who they were for. Our designs – as I try with my writing – had to be rooted to place, one way or another. If we ignored the place, it had to be for a good reason.

I try to explore that in some of my writing because that is how I was taught to process ideas and develop them. You have to ask yourself, what is this place where the character lives? What is their background, their motive, and their conflict? What issues exist that prevent them from reaching their goal? How did they grow up, what are their culture and rituals like? What would happen if you fused the traditional element of this place with technology? What would become of it and the people, and would it change them for the better or for worse? A person’s belief system also influences how they behave. You have to understand a character’s belief system, and most often it is tied to the land, the plants, the trees, etc. Also, nature is free. For example, a passive-designed building can use its environment for cooling (reducing heating and cooling costs). It can use deciduous trees to block the summer sun and let in the winter sun, or to redirect winds, etc. I could see nature as either a passive or active character in a story. Earth as a character that we abuse or love, which inspired the story “Eclipse Our Sins.”

Can you explain more what “Eclipse Our Sins” is doing and what motivated you to write it?

It was an amalgamation of many things: climate change, crimes, fear, pain. It came from a suffocating pressure-cooker moment of being inundated with scorching news reports of police shootings of Black men, gender-based violence, Black women being murdered horrendously, pollution, deforestation, toxic buildings we throw people into because of budget cuts, corruption, the raping of the environment, oil spills, racism, killings, xenophobia, endangered animals – it was all too much. I saw Mother Earth as a very wounded but angry soul, finally empowered to avenge her pain, which younger generations unfortunately have to bear. It was a deconstruction of how our current pleasures (peoples’ greed for wealth and power and materialism) sacrifice the future generation; the main character laments in one scene: 

Mmê Earth, You used to be so healthy for us . . . until we destroyed You. I understand now why You want to purge us from Your womb. But it is unfair. How come we are the ones to suffer for the before-generation’s desires that smoked our future? I hate them. I hate them all.

Much like in my short story “Murders Fell From Our Wombs,” which explored curses in a village setting as well as the stereotypical representation of women, the environment is an antagonist. In “Eclipse Our Sins,” the environment is also an antagonist and somewhat of a savior as it retaliates against the abuse it underwent. I wrote “Eclipse Our Sins” to explore how we abuse the Earth and people similarly. I’m quite a fan of true crime. It’s devastating to hear how people go missing or are murdered and found in horrid, random places. In addition, I am a Black woman – you can imagine the layers of abuse Black women go through. So I was fed up and this was my catharsis. In “Eclipse Our Sins,” at least you are safe from people’s evil acts because Mother Earth enacts punishment instantly and the question becomes: Is that to create a utopian world? But everyone’s definition of utopia is different. I also meditated on the fact that the ground, the trees, the air, the natural environment see everything about a crime. I wondered what would happen if the elements had the voice and power to stop something like that from happening. And if these elements have power, then there is power in illness. Depending on what you believe in, the root cause of a disease or illness may go beyond the physical symptoms – the mind is a very powerful organ. So in this story, characters’ sins manifest as illnesses in their bodies; what you do can destroy you.

I love how the story delves into climate change along with other pollutions. I love this line: “Warning! Pollutants rife in the air, in the city: carbon emission, racism, oil spills, sexism, deforestation, misogynism, xenophobia, murder…” How important is it for writers to recognize our natural world in terms of human experience, and how have you done this in other writing, such as “Eco-Humans?”

“Eco-Humans” is actually when I learned that you can design every detail of a building to respond to sustainability, weather, or the sun, whilst managing the costs to build and run it. So I wondered: What if humans were just like buildings? What if the environment became so toxic that every part of them had to be tempered in order to survive? What if all the elements that used to be free – air, sunlight – could no longer be easily absorbed into their bodies? Of course, you’d have companies trying to profit from this. How would poor communities survive? What if you could control how much air they could breathe? And what if it became too expensive to do that? If you manipulated them biologically as you did buildings, to be eco-friendly, what would that world be like?

I believe studying architecture has forced me to consider the natural environment because it influences our lives. It becomes saturated with culture, our actions, etc. Without it, we are nothing. The actions we impose on our environment are similar to the actions we impose on people, hence why there are parallels between pollution and say, racism. We abuse the Earth and now it’s retaliating the way people would. Writers are just like architects, designing and creating worlds. In class, we were taught to design buildings that responded to their environment and climate. That response could be conforming or opposing but we needed to have a valid reason for it. I see writers in the same way; they create and design written works, situated in different parts of the world, perhaps always responding to something.

You have a new novel out, The Silence of the Wilting Skin (Pink Narcissus Press, May 2020). The cover and title alone are intriguing. Can you describe this novel? I imagine that COVID-19 changed the way you were able to participate in readings and signings?

The Silence of the Wilting Skin is about a young woman trapped in an oppressive African city that’s erasing every part of people’s identity. The nameless young woman living in the wards slowly begins to lose her identity: her skin color peels off, people become invisible, and the city plans to destroy the train where they bury their dead. After the narrator is given a warning by her grandmother’s dreamskin, things begin to fall apart. Struggling to hold onto a fluctuating reality, she prescribes herself insomnia in a desperate attempt to save her family. It explores personal identity and the various ways we experience loss.

Here’s a beautiful summary from Publishers Weekly: “Through magnetic prose, dream logic, and lush imagery, Tsamaase delivers a fierce political message. Suffused with both love and righteous anger, this atmospheric anticolonialist battle cry is a tour de force.”

COVID-19 definitely changed things. Everything was done virtually and is still being done virtually so, really, bless the internet!

Does this story happen in a specific place?

The story doesn’t take place in a specific place, but it does take place in Africa. Parts of the setting are based on our city’s urban planning issue. For example, the train tracks that divide the two cities in the novella are based on the train tracks that, in a way, divide our city. This has led to traffic congestion and a lack of ease of movement on both sides for pedestrians and vehicles. Of course people can move in and out of these sites; it’s just that certain things could be accommodated to make it easier for both parties. That’s the train you see on the cover. Secondly, some beliefs in the story are based on myths we heard as kids. For instance, we were told that when we dream and see someone dead in a train calling us, we shouldn’t get on otherwise, we will never wake up. Hence the dreamskin people and the dead people on the train, and the ancestral realm that speaks to the spirituality and beliefs of some African cultures. Thirdly, some of the structures that are described come from traditional African architecture or Western architecture; hence why you see two cities on either side of the train.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for this lovely interview!

I have a couple of forthcoming projects. The only way to find out is to head over to my website and subscribe to my newsletter or join my Patreon, which is where I provide sneak peeks of upcoming works, releases, and where I post details of my work and process. Either way, you can contact me to say hello, tell me how your day has been, or send in questions.

Thanks to you too! I enjoyed getting to know your writing and you a little better.

This article is part of our Wild Authors series. It was originally published on


Mary Woodbury, a graduate of Purdue University, runs, a site that explores ecology in literature, including works about climate change. She writes fiction under pen name Clara Hume. Her novel Back to the Garden has been discussed in Dissent Magazine, Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity (University of Arizona Press), and Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change (Routledge). Mary lives in Nova Scotia and enjoys hiking, writing, and reading.


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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Green Tease Reflections: Beautiful Disruption

25th February 2021. This event explored issues around how landscapes are managed, maintained, protected, and run in Scotland and how artists might ‘beautifully disrupt’ the status quo and find new approaches. It was organised in collaboration with artists Kerry Morrison and Jo Hodges and academics Dr Tim Acott and Dr Eirini Saratsi. 

Opening Activity

This event started with a quick activity. Attendees were invited to think of an example of a rural or urban landscape that they were close to or was significant for them and write down:

  1. The ways that this landscape was or might be threatened or contested
  2. Who should make decisions about that landscape

The results looked like this:

Green Tease Reflections: Beautiful Disruption

We then heard from our speakers. Eirini Saratsi and Tim Acott shared their perspectives on issues around how landscapes are managed and the roles of the arts. After this Jo Hodges and Kerry Morrison shared a series of ‘beautiful disruptions’, examples of situations where the arts have creatively intervened in landscape decision making. These talks are available here as a video with a summary below.

Dr Eirini Saratsi is a lecturer at Reading University and part of the AALERT (Arts and Artists in Landscape and Environmental Research Today) network. She talked about the importance of bringing together people interested in landscape and environmental management but coming from very different fields to enable learning from each other and find new ways of collaborating. This process is not straightforward because landscape decision making is very complex, involves entrenched power dynamics, and is seen in different ways from different sectors.

Landscape decisions are made on the macro scale by national bodies but also on he micro scale by individuals and communities. Decisions are also not only made by humans. The natural world does restrict or enable our actions, so decision making is more accurately framed as an exchange rather than a one-way process.

Dr Tim Acott is a lecturer at Greenwich University and part of the AALERT network as well as running the research project Wetland Life. He emphasised the interaction between values and decision making. Various types of values are embedded into different cultural, institutional and disciplinary contexts, with different people having differing priorities. This can lead to conflicts or alliances forming between fields. For examples social scientists, economists and ecologists tend to try to measure the value of things in different ways that might support or undermine each other.

Conversely, we can also argue that the landscape has an innate value of its own in a way that is independent of how humans view it. Measuring and eliciting values also tends to reinforce certain types of values over others, so we have to be careful about which lenses we use and try to retain the ability to see the world through different lenses when discussing the value of landscapes.

Kerry Morrison and Jo Hodges are public artists who both produce work that engages with landscape use. They shared examples from their own work and that of other artists.

  • A New Environmental Impact Assessment: Environment, Imagination and Aesthetics: Artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman and researcher Claire Haggett worked with people living close to the site of a proposed new windfarm to explore how planning processes for new wind developments can use artistic methods to consider impacts on people, place and community.
  • Grass is not Green: Artist Kerry Morrison took a piece of park lawn and suspended any mowing or management of it, allowing it to develop naturally without intervention. She then documented the plants that grew there and held public workshops where people could learn about and experience them.
  • Sphagnum Splat: Artist Kate Foster and the Crichton Carbon Centre organised a creative day out at a peat bog in Galloway to symbolically and practically support its restoration. Participants created banners and played music then threw moss-laden peat-balls into the bare patches of the deforested peat bog.
  • The Red Brigade: A protest group that perform ritualised mourning ceremonies at natural sites that are threatened with destruction.
  • Bridge Garden: During the 2019 Extinction Rebellion, protestors occupied Waterloo Bridge and symbolically transformed it into a garden, installing temporary trees and plants along its length.
  • Guerrilla Grafters: A group that secretly grafts fruit bearing stems onto non-fruit bearing varieties of fruit trees grown in public places. The trees then start to produce fruit for the enjoyment of the general public.
  • GIPT: Artists Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges were invited by Tønsberg council to find new ways of engaging residents with an underused site – the foundation of a historical round church. The artists created a temporary garden and social space on the site that cultivated the herbs that had been grown there in medieval times and then harvested these for community use.
  • Climavore: This seashore installation had a dual use as a habitat for oysters and other sea life at high tide and a dining table for humans at low tide. Performative meals using sustainably sourced seafood were held at the table as a space for discussions around sustainable use of seascapes.
  • Human Cost: A work of protest art by Liberate Tate that sought to alert visitors to the gallery to its sponsorship by fossil fuel companies and the harm fossil fuel extraction causes to landscapes elsewhere. Artist Amy Scaife covered herself in oil-like treacle and lay in foetal position in the centre of the gallery.

Following this, Laura Campbell, Policy and Advice Manager at NatureScot, offered a live example of a contested landscape in Scotland for participants to discuss: Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire. Her concern was about access. They are keen to encourage people to access nature and its benefits, but what is the best approach when a small number leave litter or cause damage that affects others’ enjoyment?  Responses from attendees included:

  • The example shows a need for greater understanding and communication between local rural residents and visiting urban residents, so that visitors can better understand how to behave and understand the importance of leaving no trace
  • People who litter are in one sense behaving naturally. The need to tidy up after ourselves is an unnatural behaviour that we have had to develop in response to our material-heavy culture. How can we change entrenched culture and perceptions?
  • Much is said about the need to reconnect with nature (especially for urban dwellers) so we need to encourage people to visit and enjoy natural sites while ensuring their protection. Who decides what the ideal balance between these things is?
  • Who gets to decide who can and cannot visit a site? Does this connote ideas of ownership that are anathema to an equal relationship with landscapes.
  • How can we give agency to the landscape and it’s non-human inhabitants in these decisions?
Closing Activity

Finally, attendees were encouraged to take everything that they had learned from the session and apply it to the landscapes that they imagined in the initial exercise, considering how they might beautify, disrupt, or beautifully disrupt the situations they had outlined. The results looked like this:

Green Tease Reflections: Beautiful Disruption 3

About Green Tease

grey oblique lines growing darker, then a green line with an arrow pointing right and overlaid text reading 'culture SHIFT'

This event is taking place as part of the Green Tease events series and network, a project organised by Creative Carbon Scotland, bringing together people from arts and environmental backgrounds to discuss, share expertise, and collaborate. Green Tease forms part of our culture/SHIFT programme. 

The post Green Tease Reflections: Beautiful Disruption 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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I AM WATER: Call for Artists



DEADLINE May 10, 2021

I AM WATER is a public art exhibition organized by Our Humanity Matters and ecoartspace in collaboration with SaveArtSpace. The exhibition will consist of a series of billboards sited in New York City that will address our relationship to water and our human understanding that we are water.

Water is the origin of life with the innate purpose to continue creation. In water, we see that everything is connected and interrelated. Everything is liquid before it becomes solid. Humans, who are mostly water, depend on it to protect our DNA and for our basic survival. Water is not a resource but an essential connection to life. The one-sidedness of modern consciousness and our disconnect from nature increasingly subjects water to pollution. If we do not change our behavior, we will run out of water.

We humans cannot be healthy if our waters are not healthy. This exhibition is an opportunity to show water’s mystery and importance and to help reestablish, on a deep cellular level, the intimate relationship with water that we have lost in modern life. 

Exhibition Curator: Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace

Production Curator: Tanja Andrejasic Wechsler, founder of Our Humanity Matters

We invite artists over the age of 18 years to submit their artwork between March 15 and May 10, 2021. This is an opportunity to have your work placed on ad space in New York City.

There is a $10 donation per image submission to participate, each donation is tax-deductible and goes to producing the public art. Each artist is encouraged to submit up to 10 images including video stills (digital billboards not guaranteed). The selected artists will be announced after May 24 and will be exhibited on ad spaces in New York City, launching in June for at least one month.


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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