growing networks of art, ecology, forests in Ireland and Scotland

Upcoming Invisible Scotland PLaCE* 4 day International Symposium 1-4 August 2013. The audience will be comprised of invited researchers from three separate research networks (artists, landscape architects, architects, foresters, curators, geographers, writers, historians, performers and practitioners), with Scottish hosts and guests, with the aim of promoting new collaborations concerning the land and Scottish culture through discovery.

UPDATE – since I’ve posted this a friend contacted me to say there are two place-based learning events coming up in Ireland’s Burren area. The first one is on 18-20 July 2013, at Kinvara Galway.  Place-based Learning – building a network?  is ‘building on the success of the inaugural Irish Learning Landscape Symposium Apathy to Empathyreconnecting people with place in 2012. The Burrenbeo Trust are hosting a  networking workshop this year for place-based educators, teachers, parents and anyone with an interest in place-based learning and/or learning in the Burren. See here for more details. Draft programme is here

Also in September there are Creative Conversations occurring in the Burren 5-8 September 2013. ‘The Tionól, a creative conversation planned for September in the Burren, is an opportunity to consider new understandings and possibilities and to create a new vision for the country and the Irish language for the age that is now dawning. It is an opportunity for people from many different backgrounds in the life of the country – old and young, men and women, experts and non-experts – to come together in the ancient inspirational landscape of the Burren www.burrenbeo.ei to share personal experiences and create new narratives. The Tionól is sponsored by Teacht Aniar www.teachtaniar.eu and hosted in conjunction with Burren Call. It takes place at the Burren College of Art www.burrencollege.iesee the BurrenCall website here for details

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Its been a busy few weeks; last Friday I gave a presentation to Mayo Greens in Westport and the general public on the Irish Green Party’s new forest policy and my ongoing Hollywood forest transformation art project.  I was delighted to meet co-presenter Dr Rory Harrington, originally a forest genetics researcher who studied at Yale University.  Rory now has a very active interest in an inspiring integrated constructed wetlands restoration project with the local community in Dunhill in Co. Waterford but knows a lot about the centrality of forests for long-term ecological sustainability and our rural economies. Rory highlighted how the Green Forest policy is advocating new non-clearfell Continuous Cover forestry methods in his talk – so that was great as it was the key point I have worked on to be included in the new policy that I began work on in 2009.

Unfortunately this general public forest information meeting organised by the Mayo Greens was on the same evening as the 2nd Red Stables Art & Ecology summer school event in Dublin hosted by the Red Stables Arts staff which I had wanted to attend too. Its great to think that the Red Stables is following on from its first Art & Ecology summer school in Ireland last year, with new commissioned works and walks  (and films screened over the next few weeks, one by my old college friend, Ciara Moore -see here for details)

Further afield I am delighted to be able to join artists, foresters, ecologists, place – researchers for the international PLaCE* (Place Location Context and Environment) symposium in Dundee Scotland in a few weeks time. While activity is growing in art-ecology-land practices in Ireland its been in the UK that I have previously met with larger groups of people who have been researching in this way for many years. In fact it was at the first RSA Art Forest conference in London in 2009 that Dr. David Haley encouraged me to do further study (he’s long worked with Helen and Newton Harrison, leaders in art-ecology-land practices since the early 1970s).

I’ve been interested in Scotland’s forests for some time too… and this PLaCE symposia has field trips; including a two-day trip to old Caledonia forests and conifer plantations at the Duke of Atholls estate (this is a coincidence as I know of this estate; apparently a former Duke came to NZ many years ago and met with my grandfather, apparently they were distantly related. So my mother will be delighted that I will be checking out Blair Atholl at last, though I didn’t know until now that they have planted so many forests). I will be interested to hear what long-term plans Scotland has for its forests too.

Invisible Scotland : an International Symposium

1-4 August, Dundee and across Scotland! See here for more details; this symposia is open to anyone seeking a deep knowledge of how to relate to rural environments and the conference costs are very reasonable, with student accommodation available.

* PLaCE is a grouping of creative, practice led, academic research centers that address issues of site, location, context and environment at the intersection of a multiplicity of disciplines and practices. Originally located in the Department of Art and Design at UWE, Bristol, England, in the summer of 2011 PLaCE became an international consortium of four centers, with PLaCE at UWE Bristol (now PLaCE, England) being joined by PLaCE, Minnesota (University of Minnesota Departments of Art and Landscape Architecture; College of Design) and PLaCE, Scotland (University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design); and PLaCE, Australia (University of Melbourne).

** Blair Atholl is a small village in Perthshire, located where the River Tilt meets the River Garry. Just outside the village is Blair Castle, traditional home of the Dukes of Atholl and centre of the Atholl Estates. Like much of Scotland, the estate had been largely stripped of trees until the 18th Century. From then the “Planting” Dukes of Atholl began the process of reforestation to both improve the land and increase their profits from it. During the 18th and 19th Centuries they planted around 27 million conifers on Atholl Estates, many of them non-native species gathered from around the globe. From the records of the Dukes of Atholl a recent BBC program shows how important, and valuable, planting larch was in the 18th century.

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