Newcastle University: Artwork encourages people to reflect on the climate emergency

Live harmoniously

In the lead up to COP26, due to be held later this year in Glasgow, The Encampment of Eternal Hope, at Edinburgh’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, brings together artist, scientists, activists and the public. Within the immersive sculptural environment participants are invited to collectively imagine ways in which we can start to live more harmoniously with our natural environment.

This evolving artwork takes the form of a collection of hybrid sculptural works, part tent, part plant, playful air-filled inflatable forms, oversized flowers merge with weapons of war to create objects that advocate peace, inviting us to contemplate how to live for a better future. Within this imaginative space participants can come together outdoors to take part in a wide range of activities which aim to help us consider our relationship to the natural world.

Neil, who works in the University’s Fine Art Department, said: “The Encampment of Eternal Hope is an ongoing research project which brings people together to reflect upon the climate emergency. We are delighted to be presenting this ambitious sculpture installation with the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh Climate House, in the run up to COP26.

“The COP26 Climate conference, taking place in Glasgow in November, will bring international focus to the climate emergency at this critical time. As artists we are committed to investigating ways in which our practice can have genuine agency within social, environmental, and political issues in transforming thinking in relation to the way in which we inhabit the world around us.”

Dialogues Made Possible
The Encampment programme, which is open until Sunday 11 July asks:

“How can we learn how to care, maintain, and respect the planet, how can we educate ourselves to take care of mother nature (the planet)” and “How can we move towards understanding our collective role in becoming guardians of the natural environment’s that we inhabit?”

These questions have been posed to through ongoing conversations with Indigenous Columbian leaders facilitated by Dialogues Made Possible, a project linking Indigenous communities in Colombia and communities in Scotland, focussed on the climate emergency.

“Over the last 16 months, we have been fortunate enough to have been working remotely as members of Dialogues Made Possible; a research project that brings together community leaders, artists, activists and academics in Colombia and UK,” said Neil.

“The focus has been to generate conversations between Afro-Colombian and Indigenous groups in Colombia with communities in Scotland with a focus on the issues facing communities on the front line of the Climate Emergency. It has been incredible to have been able to host the first Dialogue Made Possible in Scotland holding face to face conversations within the Encampment project with live audiences after such a long winter of planning and uncertainty around the ongoing pandemic.

“In response to the first Colombian Dialogue film, participants at the Encampment voiced ideas about how to respond to the questions posed around living in harmony with nature and learning to become guardians of the planet. There were three main positions articulated that seemed at odds to each other at times: first, a technological fix, second, political pressure or political reform and finally rebuilding a personal ‘spiritual’ connection to nature and the planet though a ‘re-indigenising’ of self. These ideas and others have continued to open up more debates and will be shared with Colombian communities later this month.”

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