Surrey Hills Symposium
Our Climate and Biodiversity Emergency – How can we inspire action?
24 November 2021
University of Surrey
A series of talks, discussion and print workshop focused on creative action towards our climate and biodiversity crisis. Featuring artists working with scientists on ground breaking discoveries, public art that supports local wildlife and environmental activism as art. Creative arts practice that can positively contribute to addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency locally and globally. This will be an interactive sharing of projects, thinking and ideas. It will engage an audience of artists, commissioners and anyone interested in art and environment.
Join the Debate….
Ackroyd & Harvey
Artist-activists Ackroyd & Harvey are regarded as some of the leading advocates in placing the climate and ecological emergency at the centre of the artistic landscape and have extensive experience of working with world-leading scientists to activate a greater public discourse on ecology, conservation and climate change. Placing ethics into aesthetics, in 2019 they co-founded Culture Declares Emergency, a movement of nearly 2,000 individuals and organisations, with growing international outreach.
For this event, they will discuss their long-term project Beuys’ Acorns, currently in exhibition at Tate Modern celebrating both the centenary of Joseph Beuys’ birth and Tate’s declaration of the climate emergency, and their recent collaboration On the Shore with Booker prize-winning writer and activist Ben Okri – an installation and performance work in two acts from Tate’s Turbine Hall to Thames Bankside.
For many years Daro Montag has developed ways to produce art with organic matter and natural phenomena. Using the idea that nature can be best understood as a series of interlinked events, rather than a set of discrete objects, his research examined the ways that living matter can actively become part of the creative process.
Carbon is an essential component of life, it is also the very element that is helping to push it towards extinction. In recent times we have pumped much that was stored underground into our atmosphere.
This session uses biochar to help us consider the place of carbon. Biochar has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint. It also provides a way to help us think about the impact of our own unsustainable lives.
The session will move from the lecture theatre out into the living world.
Anna Dumitriu will discuss her art projects that explore issues around climate-change, gene editing, and antibiotic resistance. These include her award-winning new work “Fermenting Futures” which contains a yeast capable of capturing Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and outputting lactic acid which can be polymerised to produce PLA plastic for 3D printing, “ArchaeaBot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-form” an underwater robotic work based on ancient microbes, and “Biotechnology from the Blue Flower” which explore new plant breeding methods through the lens of Goethe’s “Metamorphosis of Plants”
Will Nash believes it is a requirement for him as an artist to think about our relationship with the natural world and to do something positive for the environment. His approach is holistic, thinking about humans as part of a bigger ecology.
The Habitable Sculpture is a straightforward offer, we are now used to the idea that public art can perform a number of functions, it can enhance our landscape, embody ideas, emphasise identity’s, attract people to a place, educate, entertain, inform.
These sculptures draw our attention to the natural world and its need for support, the intention is to engage, inspire and encourage visitors to take their own positive actions.
Andrea Gregson will discuss her recent works Checkpoint, a sculpture series sited at Grizedale Forest, Cumbria and Glisholme Forest, Denmark. Both works contain multiple drawings of objects from the forest, a visual archive of past production and material history of the surrounding landscape. The works create collective and solitary spaces to contemplate upon the connectedness of things, of human industry and nature’s industry and our interactions with the surrounding geology, flora and fauna. She will also discuss how you can get involved in the reactivation of Gustav Metzger’s Remember Nature in 2022, a project she co-curated with Jo Joelson in 2015, urging arts practitioners around the world to participate in a Day of Action, to highlight the topic of extinction.
Following the talks at 5pm, delegates will have an opportunity to network over a vegetarian buffet. Following this, will be the launch of Surrey’s Climate Strategy Plan and an evening session chaired by Author and Broadcaster Jim Al Khalili featuring Keynote speaker Sir Partha Dasgupta.
Afternoon session: 2-6pm including buffet. Evening session: 6.30-7.30pm.
University of Surrey, Stag Hill Campus,
Guildford GU2 7XH
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“If we’re going to be able to continue to exist on this planet, we’ve got to become it’s guardians and learn to manage it better. We’re utterly dependant on the natural world and we’re deeply intertwined with it, maybe as a society we’ve lost sight of that. We need to push things back in the right direction, and that is what I am trying to support with these sculptures, to make things that enhance the environment, that raise awareness and make people more interested in these species.” Will Nash