Guest Blog by Charlotte Webster: Can we put the environment at the heart of culture by 2020?
Charlotte Webster is is founder and curator of the environmental art platform Human Nature, which produces events and projects promoting art and sustainability..
This is the challenge Human Nature has set itself. By Human Nature I mean myself as founder, Tim Godwin, Creative Director and the growing number of international artists we work with. We’re an environmental art platform based in London, carving a space for artists and organisations who value nature to be heard, collaborate and enhance one another’s voice.
Our vision is a world in which nature thrives. Our artists and partners share that vision. The premise is simple, together we are more powerful.
The art and environment today
The political, commercial, technological and scientific direction we must take is clear. But I’m looking at the less defined role of the arts and culture in our transition to a low carbon society. Art as a means to touch emotions, be the visual, visceral, subtle, powerful means for change. Simply put, art changes people. Layered together with political and economic change it could, I believe, be the push over the line that society is looking for. The arts are the glue between the words of intention that cause true action, because nothing is more powerful than individual will. At scale, this is change. In the 1970’s music changed the world. Change is possible again.
It’s not a path unexplored, with a number of programmes looking to catalyse cultural change and public engagement in environmental issues. From immersive artist trips to the arctic to sculpture commissions, plays and more there’s been an increasing energy in the world of culture not least by London based Julie’s Bicycle, pioneers in behaviour change amongst the artistic community.
We caught a glimpse of the growing voice of the arts in Paris last December, from sculpture by Olafur Alisaon, to Shepherd Fairey, and the more interventionist work by Brandalism with their bus stop takeovers. In short, there is momentum. Artists are concerned, and it’s beginning to show.
But, given the transformative power of art, not enough is being done. We, by we I mean professionals and organisations involved in the transition, are at a junction where we must use every tool available to bring the world with us. We know the consequences of inaction only too well. We must dig deep for ways and means, and crucial – tap into passion, will and talent. In our hearts we know that The Paris Agreement is a good start, but for true transformation to occur we must continue with hope and optimism and be the change we want to see.
One by one, more people are creating the world they want to see. Create is the key word here. We are having to CREATE a new world. Lets not leave the creatives behind, they must be at the FORE.
We shouldn’t underestimate the power of joining positive transition organisations from fashion to renewables, media platforms and more. I believe this network model is a means of successfully moving forward together, a practice at the centre of Human Nature’s work. Yes, of course we need funding to make this happen – but funds to tackle climate change must flow into this space, not it’s not about technological solutions alone.
We face a big transition over the coming decade and the time to get creative is now. Our belief is that art is a powerful tool that can be used to celebrate the very best of our world and reconnect with nature. It’s never been more important to put the environment first and nature at the heart of our decision making. Join us to find out how here.
Does it work? A Case Study:
The Art of Beeing - New York City from Wheres-Kong on Vimeo.
New murals call for action on species extinction
British artist Louis Masai is currently traversing the USA in an attempt to tackle species extinction through art. Masai’s mural of a New England Cottontail Rabbit in Bushwick, New York, kicks off The Art of Beeing tour as the first of 20 murals coming to 12 US cities this autumn. It is one of the most ambitious mural projects of its kind to date, reflecting the fast escalating extinction crisis. With dozens of species becoming extinct every day, many scientists believe up to 50% of species are heading towards extinction by 2050.
Over 12,000 animal species are currently considered threatened across the world. With nearly one in four mammals under threat in the United States, The Art of Beeing highlights local species at risk and the urgent need to act on climate change and environmental degradation. It is calling for individuals to come together, much like bees, to put nature first. The tour’s website provides short films, information on how to take action and profiles those doing positive work for endangered species.
Louis Masai “Within the USA’s ecosystems are some of the worlds most endangered species. I’m painting these animals as patchwork toy murals because, unless we act now, they will become relegated to items on a toy store shelf. Just as patchwork has a history of sharing memories and being passed down the family line, these species could become mere memories for future generations. For me, the bees represent the stitching holding our ecosystems together.”
Louis Masai will visit New York, Detroit, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Little Canyon, El Paso, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta and Miami. A different local species will be painted in each city, these will include a Gray Wolf, Coho Salmon and a Manatee.
To follow the tour progress, Louis murals, species information and how to get involved go to here.
New England Cottontail Rabbit