Taking on the Overwhelm – Ecoliteracy in the Arts

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Purls from the Undercut  GIF   sucrose series Niamh Cunningham 2020 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What is the pattern that connects?”

Exploring the cultural dimensions of sustainability is a vast subject. Recently have I been introduced to the work of systems thinker the late Gregory Bateson.  Learning about “the pattern that connects” was his life’s work. He was preoccupied with why humans frequently behave in ways that are destructive of natural ecological systems. He asked questions of holistic structures such as how does it work? what works with it? what are the relationships? how does it learn? how does it think? how does it interact? In the documentary produced by his daughter Nora Bateson “An Ecology of Mind” we see how Bateson liked to look at a thing from different angles, twist it around endlessly so as not to get stuck on a singular line of thinking. If we don’t search for this pattern that connects, in our global culture, in our educational institutions, we are likely to break it and when that happens Bateson said “you necessarily destroy all quality.”

 

“The planetary emergency we are facing is a crisis of culture” said Dr Cathy Fitzgerald who presented the online course ‘Essential ecoliteracy for creatives and art professionals’.   I first met artist -researcher Cathy twelve years ago in my home town of Carlow, Ireland. Her course is packed with valuable resources, video links and readings.  Fellow artists, educators and policy makers from all over the globe met on the weekly zoom meeting ,  using the material for that week we explored ecological insights that promote paradigm shifts.  The rest of this blog will touch on only a few highlights from this course.

 

Purls from the Undercut (16.7.5.a) sucrose series Niamh Cunningham 2020

At the beginning of the course Cathy took us through some terms such as

 

The Holocene : Since the last ice age 12000 years ago the earth has experienced only small scale climate shifts.  However we have drifted from the Holocene since the Industrial revolution and are now currently in the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene : Our current era  is where humans dominate climatic, biophysical and evolutional processes at a planetary scale.    

The Symbiocene : This term was  coined by Glen Albrecht which hints at more symbiotic relationship,  where  life thrives through interrelated mutuality between many species and we can affirm the interconnectedness of life and all living things. Albrecht also said that he saw art as a meme for the Symbiocene.

Glen Albrecht is author of the book Earth Emotions where he defines other words for our new world such as solastalgia, soliphilia, (Please see link at end of this blog for more )

 

To support people on the enormity of the work ahead one of the modules included psycho-, social and physical supports and practices. Every module had a ‘mind-body coherence’ session, a physical and mental exercise with Veronica Larrson. I also learned unexpected things like why ‘compassion’ was far more important to practice than ‘empathy’ from eco philosopher Dr. Nikos Patedakis.

 

As part of the copious resources, links and readings which were packed into each weekly module I encountered environmental activist, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology author Joanna Macy.

‘That knife edge of uncertainty illicits from us our greatest creativity and courage, we need to live with sufficient realism and dignity to know that we are living with that knife edge of uncertainty.’

Putting our interconnectedness, our courage and intelligence to good use she speaks of the shift of an industrial growth society to a more sustainable civilization. That knife edge of uncertainty feels all the sharper now as we work our way through the Covid 19 era.

Purls from the Undercut (16.6.30.a) sucrose series Niamh Cunningham 2020

We also studied the UNSDG’s Sustainable Development Goals. (This module propelled me onto another online course called “Planetary Boundaries” for which I am currently learning. I hope to write an overview blog on that experience later.)  I came across an interview with Scientist Susanne Moser who also presented a positive picture for these overwhelming times and claimed one good reason to get out of bed in the morning is that we haven’t tried everything yet. “Having done miserably at communication, having done miserably at policy, having done miserably at market responses to climate change, this gives us a ton of hope because we could do so much better’ (earthisland.org)

 

 

The week we looked at Expanded Earth Ethics we considered the work of the late Scottish barrister  Polly Higgins. Ecocide is the missing piece of law to assist in reframing a system to avoid business as usual. Higgins is author of the book Dare to be Great. The term Ecocide is likely to have first appeared at the time of the American war in Vietnam. Cathy took us through some of the ideas behind the book Moral Ground edited by Kathleen Dean Moore.  We then looked at the Earth Charter. Systems thinker Fritjof Capra described it as a declaration of 16 values and principles to create a sustainable, just and peaceful world.

We then explored how others expanded their ecological art practices such as Newton Harrisons’ ten minute video Apologia Mediteranneo an evocative apology to the largest inland sea. On our final week participants presented our own socio eco practices to the group, learning a little bit more of the people who had been raising questions during the previous weekly sessions. After two weeks I am still reviewing many of the readings and links on the course referencing the renowned and also the less known movers and shakers in the world of ecological thinking and eco-social art practices.  

 

 

I would highly recommend this online course for artists and creatives and policy makers who wish to inform their practices / educational programs and policies.  

 

Here is a link to Dr Cathy Fitzgerald courses site

https://courses.haumea.ie/pages/coming_soon

 

This is a blog by Dr Fitzgerald expanding  on some of the topics above 

https://hollywoodforest.com/2019/05/10/good-bye-anthropocene-hello-symbiocene/#content-wrapper

 

Purls from the Undercut (16.7.5.a) sucrose series Niamh Cunningham 2020

 

The artwork for this blog is part of the sucrose series. The image is based on a waterfall outside Shawan, Sichuan, when visiting with other artists working on the early stages of a sculpture project in ‘Hong Fangzi’ October 2019. 

 

 

Note  my practice “Memory Palace of Trees” continues with upcoming tree story about Su Dong Po’s family residence in Meishan.   

 

Niamh Cunningham- Bio 。。。个人简介-倪芙瑞莲
Currently showing at Wuxi Bund Art Centre “Silent Explosion”
My interview with Today Art Museum and Today Art Media on the COVID era

Recent Interview , click on above image April 2020

Link to newspaper coverage -Carlow Nationalist (click on image)

In Her Eyes, F&E 100x100cm acrylic on canvas, 倪芙瑞莲Niamh Cunningham 2019

Silent Explosion
Recent ‘China-Ireland’ exhibition Shanghai Nov 29th 2019

China Ireland exhibition at MUSEu&m, Shanghai , opening Nov 29th

Early stage – Sculpture project HongFangzi ShaWan Sichuan
‘Whirls in the Old’ in New York at the exhibition ‘1919’

1919-Whirls in the Old Terezin acrylic on canvas 30x30cm Niamh Cunningham 2019

Gobi Heaven Art Festival August 2019

Participating in the International Artists program for this exciting event in the Gobi Dessert

Jul.Aug 2019 Group Exhibition , Hamilton Gallery , Sligo, Ireland and also Sept 2019 at the Irish Consulate Offices , Park Ave NYC
Granary Art exhibition SiShui Shandong June 2019

Granary Art Exhibition SiSHui , Shangdong June 2019 click on image

Swim Duck Video …30 sec clip of original work recently shown at Bloomsday event at Embassy of Ireland Niamh Cunningham 2019
clip from Swim Duck video Niamh Cunningham 2019

Clip from 'Swim Duck' Video by Niamh Cunningham 2019

Group exhibition in Sishui, Shangdong 正在展出

Granary Art Museum , Sishui, Jining , Shandong

April /May 2019 in Budapest 近期展出匈牙利

Currently showing in Budapest Aprli- May 2019

Wandering Rocks series of portraits 游岩系列
Talk on James Joyce at Bookworm with prof Fu Hao 乔伊斯座谈会
Aritst Talk on James Joyce at Beijing Bookworm

Talk on James Joyce at Bookwork Beijing April 2019

RTE interview on preparing for upcoming group exhibition 2 min clip
Web Of Fabulous Grass – Sucrose Series Click on image for Artist Profile English &简体中文
Artist talk at Beijing Geely College Dec 11th 2018
Map and Territory project Nov -Dec 2018 at Beijing Geely University
Map and Territory

Map and Territory

Current Events 正在展出

 

即将展出:

 

 

正在展出:

沉默的爆破

2020年07月11日-07月31日

无锡运河外滩美术馆

 

最新动态:

 

 

 

2019年11月”中国 爱尔兰  MUSEu&m , 上海

*2019年11月装置中国—红房子首届国际户外装置创作营在乐山沙湾红房子开营 …开始阶段

*2019年8月*Gobi Heaven- August 戈壁。天堂-八月

*2019年7月”1919″ 爱尔兰  Sligo -Hamilton Gallery  

*2019年5月“胜日寻芳“ 山东济宁市泗水等闲谷艺术粮仓美术馆

2019年5月-16 爱尔兰大使馆布卢姆日的展览

20195-6  《一张棉花纸》   在宋庄东区玖层美术馆展出

*2019年4月-5月在匈牙利首都布达佩斯

*2019年4月”奥德赛——回归”群展2019年4月13日在东岳美术馆开幕。

*2018年11月-12月“地图与疆域”国际艺术邀请展 北京吉利学院

*2018年11月-12月“纸上·至上”展览,韩国光州市立美术馆北京创作中心

*2018, 10月中欧国当代艺术全球巡展·上海

2018, 9月-10月“纸上·至上”展览,沈阳市拓•空间,

2018, 6月-11月诗人叶芝日,爱尔兰,斯莱戈(SLIGO),汉密尔顿艺术画廊

*2018年8月 淮阴艺术馆提名展,淮安市

*2018, 8月 “纸上·至上”展览, 鄂尔多斯,

*2018 , 6月30日 济南“国际抽象艺术展”

*2018 , 6月17 日 纸上•至上2018 在青岛,

*2018 , 5月20 日存在-国际女性艺术展,湖南长沙,

*2018 , 4月21 日延缓的时间,4月21日-29日,红门画廊,798艺术区

*2018 , 4月20 日 挖掘,,和画廊,来鹏高尔夫俱乐部

*2018年4月-12日 挖掘, , 展览,悦美术馆,北京798艺术区

*2018年2月-3月深圳观澜版画艺术区,5个星期驻地项目

*2018年1月28日-3月3日,《红&果》,流浪美术馆融空间,新年主题艺术展,北京中关村融科资讯中心

*2017年12月,中外视觉艺术湖南展,湖南长沙梅溪新天地梅溪书院.

*2017年12月末至2018年1月末, 《时间之外》主题艺术展, 北京中关村融科资讯中心

*2017年12月, 形质与叙事, 形质与叙事, 东岳美术馆

 *2017年12月,广州新造当代艺术中心,纸上·至上 纸艺作品群展.

Upcoming Exhibitions

*

Current Exhibition

*Silent Explosion, Wuxi Bund Art Centre, Jiangsu,  July 11-31 2020

Recent  exhibitions:

* Sculpture project in HongFangzu , Shawan, Sichuan , begining phase Nov 2019

Current Exhibition

*China Ireland exhibition at MUSEU&m, near the Bund , Shanghai, Nov 29th 2019

* Sculpture project in HongFangzu , Shawan, Sichuan , begining phase Nov 2019

*1919 – Group Exhibition (Hamilton Gallery) in New York, Irish Consulate

*1919 – Group Exhibition Hamilton Gallery , Sligo , Ireland July – September

*Gobi Heaven Art Festival , Inner Mongolia , August 2019

*A piece of Cotton Paper  9th floor gallery Songzhuang June 15th

*”Winning the Day ‘ Granary Art Centre,  SiShui , Shandong, May – June 2019

*Beyond the form of Art , Wick Art Centre , Budapest, Hungary may 2019

*Odyssey The Return ; group exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing  in April

Map and Territory Art IRRCA at Beijing Geely College Nov 20- Dec 20 2018

*Thousands of Sprouts, an experimental online exhibition – by Elizabeth Ross  Nov 2018

* On Paper Supreme, Gwangju Art Museum Beijing Creative Centre Songzhuang Nov- Dec 2018

*China Europe Internaitional Contemporary Art Global Tour Shanghai Oct 2018

*An Irish Airman foresees his Death – Hamilton Gallery Sligo, Ireland June – Nov 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Extension Space, Shenyang, Liaoning,  Sept 16th – Oct 21st  2018

*Artist Nomination Exhibition, Huaiyin art gallery, Huai ‘an shi, Jiangsu, July-Aug 2018

*On Paper Supreme, Ordos Culture and Art Centre , Inner Mongolia , Aug 17th – Sept 10th  2018

*International Abstract Art , ChungChuen College, Jinan, July 2018

* On Paper Supreme, QingDao , Tiantai Art Centre, June 2018

* Existence , International Feminist Art Exhibition,  Mezzi Bookstore Art Space , Changsha

* Excavations 20 April-4th June  He Gallery, Golf Club.

*’Mortgaged Time’ 21st- 29th April at Red Gate Gallery , 798 Beijing  April 21st

*’Excavations’ 12-18th Enjoy Museum 798,  Beijing   preview 5 pm 12th April

* 5 week residency at Guanlan Printmaking base , Shenzhen (Feb-March 2018)

*Lunar New Year theme exhibition “Red Fruit” showing at Raycom IT centre, Zhongguancun,  28th Jan continues to March 3rd, organised by RoveArt , supporting the Female Protection Fund.

*Chinese & Foreign Visual Arts Hunan,  at the Meixi Academy Book Complex, Changsha Dec 26th to Jan 26th 2018.

* ‘Beyond Time’  Raycom IT Centre, Zhongguangcun, Beijing Dec – Jan 27th  2018

*”Qualitative Phase and The Narrative” Beijing Film Academy Triennial Exhibition at Dong Yue Art Museum, Beijing, curated by Li Zhen till Dec 18th 2017…………………………………………….

 

-.On Paper Supreme made its final exhibition for 2018 in Beijing Songzhuang opening Nov 16th
Group exhibition Hamilton Gallery, Sligo
Hamilton Gallery Sligo - Lonely Impulse 2

A response to WB Yeats poem 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death'

Group show Oct 27th Shanghai Bund 27 The House of Roosevelt House , the Bund Shanghai
Recent ‘At your Leisure’ Summer exhibition Jiangsu “悠游“——淮阴艺术馆
exhibited in Jinan curated by Ma Yi Ying
With curator Guo Zhen at the opening of Existence in Changsha , exhibition continues till end of July 2018

和策展人郭桢在开幕式《存在》

简体中文Artist Interview & Profile for the Art Project ‘Existence’
Group exhibition at Red Gate in April 2018 focussing on antiwar poet Ingeborg Bachmann
Niamh Cunningham 'Bachmann Girl' 2017

Artwork for poster is 'Bachmann Girl' 100x100cm Acrylic on Canvas by Niamh Cunningham 2017

Excavations showing at Enjoy Museum 798 April 2018

Excavations , a cross collaborative exhibition showing contemporary art by Chinese and Irish artists , showing in Enjoy Museum, 798 , 2018.4.12

Very honoured to have Irish Ambassador Eoin O’ Leary visit Chinese New Year exhibition “Red & Fruit”

Irish Ambassador Eoin O'Leary with subway paintings at Raycom Centre exhibition Feb 2018

Stay updated with Niamh’s work and her trips around Beijing

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