msb ~019 Tell it slant

Tell it slant

Florida, by Lauren Groff

In this Edge Effects interview, Lauren Groff offers perspective for any ‘climate fiction’ writer feeling environmental despair even while celebrating nature. “My only talent is as a writer. That’s the only thing I can do. So now I feel as though I am being immoral if I am not addressing it somehow in my work. Of course, I write literary fiction, so it can’t be polemical. If it’s polemical, I’ve failed. I need to do something more scalpel-like, something a little bit sideways.” Continue reading “msb ~019 Tell it slant”

msb ~018 There is no away

There is no away

Trash Art, Jan Eric Visser at Groundwork Gallery 2018

Form follows garbage, a new film by friend and Finding Blake colleague James Murray-White for GroundWork Gallery, follows artist Jan Eric Visser. Visser transforms everyday garbage into art — and a new kind of environmental politics.

His assertion that “the story of more should end” comes up hard against the evidence of another excellent film: last night’s BBC documentary The secret life of landfill: a rubbish history. Continue reading “msb ~018 There is no away”

msb ~017 Rewilding the future

Rewilding the future

Rewilding the Future, 18 September 2018

Next month sees Climate Action North East’s conference, Rewilding the Future and I wish I were going. One of our leading naturalists, Chris Packham will be talking to businesses about opportunities for restoring our ecosystems. I worked with Climate North East during my time at the UK Climate Impacts Programme; so I know it will be a successful event. Not just a talking shop, it will feature three ‘mini-hacks’ to come up with perspectives, inspiration and action: Continue reading “msb ~017 Rewilding the future”

msb ~016 Naturalist

Naturalist

Naturalist, by Clare Crossman

In an introduction to their collection of ‘environmental’ poetry, the Poetry Foundation claimed that while Romantic poets often wrote about “beautiful rural landscapes as a source of joy, [and so] made nature poetry a popular poetic genre … contemporary poets tend to write about nature more broadly than their predecessors, focusing more on the negative effects of human activity on the planet.” That struck me as a bit odd because although the scope for contemporary poets may well be wider and there is undoubtedly much to be negative about when we witness our environmental crises, a good many poets continue to find joy there, and without necessarily going all ‘Romantic’ on it. Continue reading “msb ~016 Naturalist”

msb ~015 Tinker tailor soldier artist

Tinker tailor soldier artist

Alec Guinness’ classic portrayal

Yesterday’s post mentioned embedding artists in public bodies to stimulate cultural responses to climate change. The idea lodged in my mind, mixing with John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the classic tale of moles, sleepers and agents I’m rereading … What if climate-aware artists were smuggled into all central and local government, working in the shadows for a safer, fairer, better-connected ecology, economy and society? What art might moles make within policies, positions and forecasts? On the texts’ margins? Hijacking the headings, footnotes and charts? How long would it take for creative subversion to move beyond satire? A diverting daydream … Continue reading “msb ~015 Tinker tailor soldier artist”

msb ~014 A duty to collaborate

A duty to collaborate

Shaping the Culture: Duty to Collaborate?
Glasgow 27th August 2018

It’s great to see Creative Carbon Scotland putting the case for the arts in helping society anticipate, adapt to and tackle the impacts of our changing climate. Their latest event seeks to bring creative practitioners into the heart of the debate, with a consultation event on 27th August. This builds on the work CCS did last year, responding to the Scottish Government on a Cultural Strategy. Among the many excellent points (and demonstrations of good practice) in their response, what stood out for me was the short section that started with this declaration: “There is an absolutely essential role for art to ‘get out of its box, into other boxes, and get other people into art’s boxes’.” Continue reading “msb ~014 A duty to collaborate”

msb ~013 On anticipatory history

On anticipatory history

Anticipatory history – edited by Caitlin DeSilvey, Simon Naylor & Colin Sackett

A year ago on ClimateCultures, I discussed a book I’d first encountered in 2011 and have been using ever since. Anticipatory history arose from an interdisciplinary network, exploring possibilities in ‘looking back’ at environmental change to help us ‘look forward’ to what futures we might shape. I was doing my MA Climate Change at the time and, in the network’s latter stages, I was able to contribute some work on ‘storying adaptation’ to their final symposium. Continue reading “msb ~013 On anticipatory history”

msb ~012 Problematic problems: predicaments

Problematic problems: predicaments

The Best of the Archdruid Report, John Michael Greer

I categorised yesterday’s post under Predicaments without actually using the word. Discussing climate change, I’ve favoured ‘predicaments’ over ‘problems’ (even ‘Wicked Problems’) since I read John Michael Greer’s definition. In the Archdruid Report, Greer described the difference: “a problem calls for a solution; the only question is whether one can be found and made to work … A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people come up with responses. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but none of them ‘solves’ the predicament, in the sense that none of them makes it go away.” Continue reading “msb ~012 Problematic problems: predicaments”

msb ~011 Systems thinking: questioning boundaries

Systems thinking: questioning boundaries

The Sufi fable of the six blind men and an elephant

I’ve been enjoying this Ecologist post by Daniel Christian Wahl, Six key questions in whole systems thinking. As well as advocating the much-needed shift from “reductionist and quantitative analysis informed by the narrative of separation” to interacting with the world as if it were ‘more than the sum of its parts’, he highlights the danger of elevating system levels ‘above’ that of the detail. It’s in the detail that the diversity (also the devil) lies.

Continue reading “msb ~011 Systems thinking: questioning boundaries”

msb ~010 Back to Tyger School

Back to Tyger School

Catman’s Blakean View – unknown Year 4 artist

It’s a foolhardy non-artist who puts his childish art on public display. The great drawing on the left isn’t mine, but a real work by a real, talented child artist. But I’ve drawn my morning online ‘learning to draw’ exercise for one of three great courses offered by artist-coach Jane Beinart (thoroughly recommended to anyone who thinks they ‘can’t draw’ and wants an unpressured, relaxing way to ignore that inner voice).

This exercise was to ‘recreate’ a picture by a child. I chose one we featured on the Finding Blake site I edit, in Linda Richardson’s post about a school class she took as artist-in-residence. She read Blake’s poem The Tyger. Then they all drew something. Continue reading “msb ~010 Back to Tyger School”