Earth: Art of a Changing World at the Royal Academy.
I was intrigued to see this exhibition. With the emphasis on climate and the environment I was interested to see how engaging the issues explored would be.
Overall, I found there to be a varied and understandable approach to many of the complex elements that contribute to, are affected by, and are a result of the damaging way in which a large proportion of humans live.
Favourite concepts and themes included the issue of false security we rely on to assure ourselves the world will still turn, the sun will still shine.
An excerpt from the poem 'What If' by Lemn Sissay:
Let me get it right. What if we got it wrong?
What if we weakened ourselves getting strong?
What if our wanting more was making less?
And what if all of this wasn’t progress?
What if the disappearing rivers of Eritrea,
the rising tides and encroaching fear
What if the tear inside the protective skin
of Earth was trying to tell us something?
Another concept explored in the exhibition by Ackroyd & Harvey captured the close relationship and fine balance between the strong and the weak, the basic and the luxury.
Taken from the Royal Academy Website:
'Polar Diamond' was created using a polar bear bone found by the artists during a trip to the Arctic with the Cape Farewell project. A complex scientific technique extracted carbon from the residue ash of the cremated bone, and this was then subjected to immense pressure and heat to produce a diamond. Using technology to accelerate a process that usually occurs naturally over millions of years, Polar Diamond questions our sense of value and loss, and asks what price is being paid for carbon
Towards the later stages of the diamond production however, the diamond cracked and crumbed due to (if I remember correctly) a polishing process. This furthermore questions and demonstrates the fragility of our materials and power of human control
My favourite element of the exhibition however, was Amazonian Field, 1992. Terracotta by Antony Gormley RA. I feel embarrassed that I am not familiar with this piece of work, but today was the first time I saw it.
Taken from the Royal Academy Website:
Amazonian Field puts us in the uncomfortable position of being confronted by numerous figures made from the earth itself, all looking towards us questioningly. In previous installations the work has taken on strong identities of place and Gormley was intrigued to discover what sort of reinterpretations might arise in the context of this exhibition: ‘From the beginning I was trying to make something as direct as possible with clay: the earth. I wanted to work with people and to make a work about our collective future and our responsibility for it. I wanted the art to look back at us, its makers (and later viewers), as if we were responsible – responsible for the world that it, and we, were in.’
For me, this intention was strongly felt. Pretending to be in a position of responsibility when facing this installation was a scary, emotional and unnerving experience.
What would I say to these people to encourage them to change their behaviour?
I feel a major issue that needs to be overcome on the road to a sustainable future is for everyone to take responsibility for all elements of carbon reductions, waste reduction, sustainable behaviours and attitudes. The feeling of 'I'm only one person what can I do' needs to be quickly eradicated for everyone to feel part of a collective change.
Everyone should stand in front of this installation and feel the need to be responsible, before remembering that we are all one of the little statues in it. We can all be in charge of the change, and we are all a link in the chain. The chain of change!
Artist as a reflection of the Designer?
Throughout time and the history of our world, the 'artist' has documented life, imagination, fantasy - artists document (sometimes without intent) the changes in our world and respond to emotive, historical, current, engaging cultural arguments and topics to inspire thinking and provoke emotion.
It is the 'designer' however, that works to realise the practical need for change. The ability to design products and systems based on concepts (perhaps often explored by the 'artist') to promote and encourage a change of behaviour or lifestyle. In the context of sustainability and the environment: to make the objects we use within daily life more appropriate for environmental concern and to enable us to include sustainable behaviour in our lives. How we do this through fashion however is varied and difficult.