Case Study: Artist Engagement – The Edinburgh College of Art

6th November 2014

Case Study: Artist Engagement - The Edinburgh College of Art

The Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) have been working with Creative Carbon Scotland to highlight issues of sustainability among studying artists.

Working with artists is a key way to affect the sustainability of the arts sector: artists can have a significant effect on the carbon footprint of a work or an exhibition as a result of their choices in the artistic process.

To draw attention to this, CCS helped host a session on sustainability, as part of a full-day event for 2nd year students at ECA, through the lens of the 2014 EAF exhibition Where Do I End and You Begin. A reflective piece of the content of the session can be found here. In inviting CCS to host the session, the two partners showcased their commitment to sustainability, emphasising their organisational ethos to the incoming generation of makers.

The goal of the event was to provoke discussion of the sustainability implications of artistic choices, and to challenge creative thought around the dilemmas of sustainability, when juxtaposed with the conflicting elements which might otherwise influence an artistic product. Allowing the students and exhibition curators to freely voice their opinions on the impact of sustainability concerns promoted more lateral consideration of opportunities for enhanced sustainability. In turn, this provided the artists with comparable examples to apply to their own work, when trying to operate in a more sustainable manner.

The discussion session encouraged engagement with sustainability in a variety of settings:

  • At different stages of artistic creation: students were asked to consider the inception and integrity of an artwork alongside its material use, its transportation and its conditions of exhibition.
  • At multiple levels of decision making: students hypothesized as artists, as curators and as festival directors in order to understand the relevance of sustainability in each role.
  • In a real-life context: the Where Do I End and You Begin exhibition was used as a real-life example for scenario-planning around sustainability dilemmas, contextualising concerns within an immediately accessible setting.

It is hoped that in engaging new artists at the start of their careers, and in an educational context, their association with sustainability will too develop over time.

Further reflections on the event can be found on our blog.

Creative Carbon Scotland runs monthly discussions in Edinburgh and Glasgow aiming to engage those working in the arts and sustainability. Click here to find out more about our Green Tease events.

Image: Catriona Patterson. ECA EFA Study Day. 2014.

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

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