Arts & Sustainability: Artists’ Residency, 2014

Our 2014 Arts & Sustainability multi-disciplinary residency explored the question, what would it mean to be an artist working in a sustainable Scotland in 50 years’ time?

In 2014 we ran our first ever artists’ residency in partnership with Comar on the Isle of Mull. This was spurred by what we perceived to be a lack of opportunities for artists of different disciplines to step away from their everyday practices and consider how their work might connect with ideas concerning environmental sustainability and climate change.

In the residency’s first iteration we worked with Comar and facilitators composer Dave Fennessy and producer Suzy Glass to focus specifically on questions of how Scotland might look in 50 years’ time based on climate change projections. We asked participants to consider what role artists might play in the changes to come as well as what unique skills they can bring to this new context. Drawing on sociologist John Urry’s text Climate Change and Society we considered approaches to making art, as well the actual content and the infrastructure it lives within.

We recognised the relatively untrodden grounds of the questions were asking and sought to work with a mixture of artists who had and hadn’t worked previously thought about environmental sustainability in relation to their work.

2014 participating artists were: Jake BeeTom ButlerRachel DuckhouseCatrin EvansDave FennesseySuzy GlassHannah ImlachNatalie McIlroyAngharad McLaren, and Alex South.

The residency had a number of objectives:

  • To provide artists who may or may not have previously thought about environmental sustainability in their practice with the space and stimuli to consider how it might drive new ways of working;
  • To create a ‘greenprint’ of the skills and ways of working that might constitute a sustainable artistic practice;
  • To use this ‘greenprint’ as the starting point for thinking about how Creative Carbon Scotland and the cultural sector can best support and work with artists in this capacity;
  • To nurture a creative network which embeds environmental sustainability at its core.

The group reading list also included:

Rachel Briscoe – Theatre in a giant Emmental powered by exercise bikes – why ever not? Sustainability isn’t at odds with art, says Rachel Briscoe, whose new show Cheese is inspired by a kid in a cardboard box

Brian Eno – The big here and long now

Richard Pettifer – Theatre should not talk about climate change

Audio recording of Ruth Little – Stewardship, connections and ecology: contexts for the development of talent

Read about our 2015 residency here. 

Image credit: Jack Bee

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We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.


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Supported by

Edinburgh Festival City Edinburgh Festival City

A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Edinburgh Festival City Federation of Scottish Theatre Scottish Contemporary Art Network