Sunday, 1 April 2012


2-12 April 2012 The Core Building . EDEN PROJECT . Cornwall

An exhibition showcasing artwork by 21 emerging artists and designers from across University College Falmouth as part of Cape Farewell’s ShortCourse/UK – representing our creative response to a series of short, rural expeditions made around the landscapes of Cornwall in the context of climate change.

Reception and live programme: 5 April, 6-9pm

Acknowledgements to Mark Perham Photography, Sion Parkinson (text/CapeFarewell) and Josh Flatt (design).

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Making Things That Make Things Happen

“A fundamental aspect of this developing practice was exploring the possibility of making things happen rather than making things.” Mary-Lou Barratt (

As a visual artist it has been my tendency and interest throughout my life to make things; things of beauty, provocative things - to explore the world through sensory tactile experience - to engage with the physical materials of the animate earth. Through such experience I have hopefully been able to communicate my relationship with that earth, my sense of wonder at its magic, mystery and power.

Yet as a political and social being, as part of the universal ecology and the responsibility it implies, it seems imperative at this time of ecological crisis that as artists we make things happen – to question the behaviour that has brought our civilization to the brink of self-destruction, to challenge its ecocidal tendencies and to offer means to resolve the challenges to survival we are facing.
Joseph Beuys, 7000 Oaks, Kessel, Germany.

As much as I appreciate the political and performative confidence and artistry of such as Joseph Beuys, Shelley Sacks ( and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and the cross-disciplinary ecological applications and intelligence of Aviva Rahmani ( and Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison (, my own tendency is to shy away from such confrontational and interactive engagement towards a more intimate and personable meditative practice, more akin to traditional than contemporary art practice.

So is it possible to satisfy both aspects, both intentional aspirations, of my communicative practice – to inspire and catalyze and embody action towards ecozoic[1] sensitivity, towards resilient, sustainable development, towards ecological rejuvenation – through the process of making? Is it possible to make things that make things happen?

As easy as it is to blur the definition of a ‘thing’, alternatively becoming a guided participatory performance, a ritual or activist event, can an art object alone, in the more traditional sense, motivate action or perceptive and behavioural transformation? It is obviously impossible to remove such objects from the contextual conditions of an age but are such transformations and motivations triggered through the sphere of the imagination, through our sensorial and aesthetic responses? And if they are how might we encourage prolonged sensible engagement with these objects of our attention?[2]

Such intentional and purposeful use of art brings propaganda to mind. For example, the posters of the early 20th Century, which blatantly incite people to rise up and act in defence of nation or state, often through a dismissal and undermining of intrinsic self-worth by a strategic deployment of idealized and idolatrous imagery. Another form being the overwhelming blanket of advertising which aims to promote material consumption for profit and individual gain, often in the name of ‘progress’. Such means merely serve the dominant political power of the time and are often further enforced through fear of violence and ultimately aims to disempower the people and their environment.[3] However, despite its more negative associations, when we look how propaganda is defined[4] it is obvious that more often than not this is what we are learning to do on this course, albeit in the name of all our relations rather than just a few.

the magic and wonder of it all (mud and paint); drinking from a natural spring, co galway (pward 1996)
So how might we promote and embody ecozoic action through our art and its residual objects? What are the mechanics behind the ability to empower people, to incite action, through our art and and its practice without dictating an outcome or undermining the innate intelligence of our species? And how might we rise to and resolve such challenges through art?

Some might say that such purposeful intentionality, or hope of social or ecological transformation, is antithesis to our role as artists[5] or else impossible within the cosmic perception of our realities. Whichever, as responsible communicators acting within and responding to the social, economic and ecological circumstances of our age it is maybe fundamental to out practice that we ask ourselves such questions before we continue… 

[1] ecozoic
an era or epoch marked by the reintegration of human endeavors into a larger ecological consciousness ( - a term coined by the environmentalist Thomas Berry in 1991.
[2] 'New organs of perception' is a phrase that stems from the scientific work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), which refers to a participatory, holistic mode of seeing. It offers an alternative to the onlooker consciousness of natural science - from
[3] Paulo Freire, PEDOGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED (London; PENGUIN; 1970)
[4] Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.
[5] Ask Andy Webster ( about his Phd research.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Communicate through comedy - Blink in the face of Terror

Dear All,

Just sharing a few funny moments for those in need.
Comedy can do commentary on the environment.  Bill Bailey at Wembley - from 2008.. 

- 1.10 morphing face.  excellent....
3.54mins  - 5.30  Blink in the face of terror