The Home & The World A REPORTPosted: June 29, 2012
A Summit for Artists and Thinkers at Dartington Hall, South Devon, June 19-21 2012
(Through personal involvement developing a project for 2013-14 with RANE and CCANW (Soil Culture) represented by a participatory earth painting workshop and inclusion of A BUNDLE OF STICKS within the programme of events, I was invited to share a report with the ecoartnetwork about this conference organised by Aune Head Arts. Here is my response …)
Thank you for your interest in the proceedings of the HOME & THE WORLD Summit. It was my first experience of a conference of this kind and therefore my account can only be a very personal, subjective one…
Despite some technical hitches (involving skype link-ups for participants who were unable to attend) which were a great shame and the wonderful English weather (it rained heavily and superbly for the second half of the 3-day event but the climatic situation was of course embraced with good humour and resolve), the summit was an excellent, inspiring and informative meeting of like minds within a beautiful setting.
The selection of presentations, subject matter, issues and approaches from bizarre and massive spectacle to intimate process and subtle and humourous installation, from downright academic to hands on and dirty, from urban to human to rural to surreal to hi-tech, as well as the heartfelt reports of effective interventions in areas of conflict worldwide affirming the incredible diversity of skill, determination and emotion that is encompassed by those of us who feel the relevance and power of the arts about and within the World.
(As minor criticism, there was a certain difficulty in participating more fully in the very packed programme, and in too often presenting such intimate work within the architectural/structural/conventional restraints of dark and rigid lecture theatres while the world called outside and eyes strained to make contact with speakers and audience alike.)
Personally the Summit offered an excellent opportunity to share new work (mistakes and all) and affirm and validate it within a truly supportive community of local, national and international people – we are not alone, and as suggested by Beth and David’s comments this is reinforced all the more by ‘real’ interaction – many new friends and possible positive futures being established.
I felt the diversity of presentations suggested and affirmed the value of framing our work as ‘art’, of how such an inference creates a different space within which to engage with ‘good work’ and hence amplify its purpose. This is not to undermine the value of all the incredible, large- and small-scale ‘good work’ being done around the world to challenge the ecocidal paradigm in whatever form, but to recognize the value of the imaginative and energetic cultural space that art can provide both to learn and express our place in the world.
A particularly refreshing and pertinent thread running through the Summit for me was the challenge of expressing our implicate place within the matter of the universe rather than setting ourselves outside or beyond its influence, and the difficulty our (previous) conditioned means of communication presents within our work towards such a perspective (especially well expressed in the work of Alex Murdin and Cathy Fitzgerald).
To conclude there was talk of how we might create a legacy of the connections and good work done at the Summit and of the possibilities, practical and financial difficulties and limitations of online networks. My personal preference being an online directory/resource/network of UK based ecoart to provide reference and evidence of our working practices when approaching possible partnerships, along the lines of greenmuseum.org but highlighting the well-hidden work being done here – to provide examples of locally relevant work possibly being more helpful than international examples. There is great suspicion of all art in the UK, and as always a lack of awareness of its potential ecological functionality, so many would rather work creatively but unannounced within other structures to avoid the cultural barriers society has established to ‘protect’ itself from the misrepresented and misunderstood art practices of the past, than embrace the preliminary educational feat needed to negotiate for funding and recognition within such a mindset – any resource to enable this and hence the possibility of more ecoart to my mind must be worthwhile. (Unfortunately, I am presently a little too busy with other work to commit to such a proposal but …)
Some form of publication is planned to represent the Summit, alongside the podcasts, but first Richard Povall and the Aune Head Arts team are taking a well-deserved break for a few weeks after their efforts to organize the event.
A next gathering in the UK was proposed in Falmouth, Cornwall at the “Environmental Utterance Conference’ being organized by Natalia Eernstmann (RANE PhD research student) in September 2012 , along with another proposed conference as part of the Soil Culture Project also in Falmouth for September 2013. This next conference also coincides with the 2nd MA Art & Environment Show at University College Falmouth, led by Daro Montag, so keep a space in your diaries if you’re interested …
alex murdin: www.ruralrecreation.org.uk