Artful Ecologies 2
Art, Nature & Environment Conference
The second Art, Nature & Environment conference organized and hosted by the RANE research group at University College Falmouth, took place over four days in July. The conference aimed to bring together leading members of the artistic community and the growing community of artists and researchers already engaging with RANE, to consider and discuss how artists might best address current ecological concerns.
Since the successful inaugural Artful Ecologies conference in 2006, any doubts that our planet’s ecology is now in real danger have been left far behind. Many now argue that we are on the verge of a crisis that could very soon turn to catastrophe. The number of different scenarios we now face, largely of our own making, all present harsh realities and paint bleak pictures of our future. These problems include the creation of a climate that will make large regions of the earth uninhabitable and force an unprecedented loss of species to rival the planet’s previous mass extinctions. Within a generation, toxic levels of pollution and the predicted population explosion will begin to place huge demands on limited resources, with potential shortages of food and water making survival for many an impossibility. The magnitude of the task ahead is almost impossible to imagine, harder still to tackle.
The focus of this conference was to ask whether there is a role for art to play in facing this impending ecological crisis. If, among other things, art is to be seen as a method for making sense of the world; as a means of interpretation and communication; as a way of exploring and proposing alternatives, then is there more for art to do than simply foreground the problems? What can artists do to provide solutions and address practical concerns? With our environment in crisis, what role for art?
In addition to the formal presentations and debates at the college’s Woodlane campus, delegates were also able to explore and enjoy the local surroundings such as the sub-tropical gardens at Trebah, Trelissick Gardens via the River Fal and The National Maritime Museum at specially organised evening events. These settings provided an ideal backdrop to informal discussion and networking.
A full programme of events was enjoyed by over 50 delegates from across the UK and beyond, which included fourteen international speakers. The conference closed on the Saturday with an open session and discussion in which delegates were able to respond to the previous three days of presentations. Papers from the conference are planned to be published by RANE later this year.
Reviews of the conference are now appearing on various blogs, websites and publications. A review of the published papers from the first Artful Ecologies conference which was launched in July has now appeared in the Landscape & Arts Network online magazine, and a PDF of the publication is available here.