Video installation in Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral is hosting an “Up in the Air” video installation for the duration of the Paris climate negotiations. I’m proud that it is part of ArtCOP21, the global climate art festival:

Climate change is often seen through a policy or scientific lens, and solutions are discussed only in political offices, boardrooms and negotiating halls. ArtCop21 launched ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris, aims to challenge those tropes. Climate is culture. What is required is the active engagement of citizens worldwide in the urgency, value and opportunities of a transition away from fossil fuels and the embracing of a greener, sustainable future economy.

There will also be an appearance of the “Up in the Air” pop-up at the Cathedral’s monthly Holy Ground service at 7pm on 6 December.

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Talk at Abingdon Carbon Cutters

Clare grew up in Abingdon, so offered to speak at one of the monthly meetings of Abingdon Carbon Cutters, the local low carbon group. As well as giving an overview of Particulart and climate change, she touched on craftivism more generally (some of the members were involved in knitting the 7-mile-long pink scarf between AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield) and ozone depletion in particular (her first job was as a student assistant in a team researching ozone chemistry down the road at Harwell).

And she got a bit of publicity for it in the Oxford Mail. Particulart may feature again in Oxfordshire in 2016…

2015-11-18 ACC in Oxford Mail p16

Sidmouth Science Festival

“Up in the Air” pop-up was supposed to feature in the Sidmouth Science Festival on Saturday, but unfortunately other commitments intervened.

Clare did however preach at Sidbury Church on Sunday as part of the Festival. Her topic was “Who has the wisdom?” and she largely spoke about the book of Job, and scientific knowledge and wisdom. But of course Particulart did make an appearance. And maybe the congregation will remember Clare waving around a knitted carbon dioxide as a prop if nothing else.

Popping up soon near you

Got some dates for your diaries. “Up in the Air” will be popping up this autumn at the following meetings and events:

17 October

APPEARANCE CANCELLED DUE TO OTHER COMMITMENTS :(
Sidmouth Science Festival
Popping-up from 11am at Kennaway House
FREE for the general public!

18 October

Sidmouth Science Festival
Clare is preaching at the 10.30am Holy Communion service at St Giles Sidbury

18 November

Abingdon Carbon Cutters
Clare is speaking at the Monthly meeting, 7.30pm at St Ethelwold’s, Abingdon

6 December

Holy Ground at Exeter Cathedral
Popping-up as part of the service of Holy Communion from 7pm
Discussion from about 8pm

Relight My Fire

Particulart pop-up at RLMF BikeShed bar

“Up in the Air” popped up for a second time at the Relight My Fire festival of energy and the arts in Exeter last weekend. Indoors this time, and slimmed down without roof or games area. It just about fit in the space.

Relight My Fire is run by Regen SW, and is part of Part of Community Energy Fortnight. It brings artists to the streets and venues of Exeter to explore our relationship with energy past, present and future. The energising (and hopefully not enervating) programme includes performances, talks, workshops, activities and pop-up events.

In fact, Relight My Fire’s financial support helped make the pop-up possible. It was part of the RE:FRESH event in the Bikeshed Bar and Theatre.

Regen SW is building a network of creative practitioners who are developing work in the arts and energy space – This networking event will provide a platform for some of those artists to share details of their work and chat over drinks.

It was great to speak to some really interesting people doing great work in this area. One performance artist is living on 15 litres of water a day for a year, just 10% of the UK average. I offered her a loan of my water vapour particle! It featured among the “A Stitch in Time” greenhouse gases, but doesn’t fit easily into the data framework for “Up in the Air” so is sitting on a shelf at the moment.

Relight My Fire also included the launch of a new blog called Power Culture, which explores our energy generation through the arts. Clare has a couple of pieces on the blog, one about Particulart, the other about Didcot Power Station, as you do.

Happy Ozone Day!

UNEP has designated 16th September as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, and 2015 marks the 30th anniverary of the British Antarctic Survey’s paper in Nature alerting the world to the ozone hole and the adoption of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985.

So I knitted representations of the three main stratospheric ozone depletion equations, took a photo, and published it online. I’m treating it as an exhibition, but have further plans for it…

 

Pop!

pop-feature

Exeter Green Fair on 5 September saw the debut of my new “Up in the Air” pop-up. Under a blue gazebo (the sky), I suspended eight pale blue hula hoops (clouds), and from these the eight greenhouse gases. I turned it round so the (0,0,0) of the axes was at the front-bottom-left, and the posters stuck to a panel at the back. The inflatable globe hung centrally, and the carpeted and cushioned games area was off to one side. Thankfully it didn’t rain, and the gusts were manageable!

I had loads of conversations with passers by, from the children who were drawn to the globe and the swinging particles (“be gentle!”), to a former colleague in the Met Office climate business, to scientists and knitters and people who were just interested.

The pop-up was kindly supported by the Relight My Fire festival of energy and arts. Its next outing will be at the festival, which will be happening across Exeter during 18-21 September.

Pecha Kucha at Greenbelt

Greenbelt is a Christian festival “Where faith, arts and justice meet”. Since 1974, it has brought people together to explore these issues, “to ask questions and suggest answers, to find moments of joy in art and music, and moments of celebration in our daily lives.”

In 2015, the Festival theme was The Bright Field, the title of a poem by RS Thomas. The programme included two Pecha Kucha events, each with six talks given by mostly visual artists. I was second in my set, sandwiched in between Katie Duxbury’s amazing costumes, and Kay Morrisson’s talk about paying tax forward and her very new project that may or may not be @TaxitForwardUK. As I said, mostly visual artists.

Pecha Kucha is a new way of doing Powerpoint presentations. There are 20 slides, which must be images only, no text, although one can cheat and have images of text. I also passed around a carbon dioxide molecule as a prop. The slides change automatically every 20 seconds, so the talk is 6 minutes 40 seconds in total. It becomes more of a performance than a presentation, and there was a lot of good energy in the tent. Most importantly for me, the audience laughed at the right places!

Free Art Friday

As part of the publicity for “Up in the Air” in July, I gave away my prototype for Particulart, the carbon dioxide that ended up a bit too big and time-consuming to knit. It was a bit of a wrench! But I took the opportunity to piggy back on the Free Art Friday movement, and set up Free Art Friday Exeter, with its own Facebook page. The worldwide free art movement has existed for many years. Artists leave pieces in public places to be discovered and taken for free. There’s a much longer explanation below.

FreeArtFriday-LibraryThe lady on Reception in the Exeter Civic Centre couldn’t quite grasp the point of Free Art Friday (“It’ll disappear within 5 minutes”… well, yes) and thought it better if I didn’t leave my carbon dioxide molecule there. So I took it to Exeter Library instead. Here it is in the entrance and café area. I asked whoever found and took the molecule to let me know, but sadly received no response. Maybe it ended up in the bin. Still, it was worth trying, and I may well again. I need to get more artists involved too, so if anyone is interested, please see the Facebook page and get in touch.

The long explanation

By MyDogSighs ’07, from the Flickr page for the original Free Art Friday

Artwork placed on the street for any member of the public to enjoy and take home — go on, make someone’s day! Post only pictures of free art please.

Free Art Friday is not an original concept. There are many artists across the world making art and leaving it out on the street.

There are no rules. That’s the joy! In order to keep a record of exclusively free art you need to make sure the work is easily removable and does little or no damage to its environment.

Some put out canvas. Others use materials found on the street. Cardboard is popular but your imagination is your limit.

P.S. It doesn’t have to be Friday!

The concept of Free Art Friday has many strands.

For the artist, it is an opportunity to create work free from the constraints of commerce, to voice an idea, shout a political message or just amuse and confuse the viewer.

Art is so often tied to a need by the artist to ‘make a living’ and constrained by gallery and dealer issues. FAF focuses the artist on the act itself, giving complete artistic freedom as opposed to considering financial and commercial limits.

Many Free Art Friday participants’ work is humorous and good natured, hoping to cheer up the walk to work of the viewer. Hoping to make them question everything. To expect the unexpected and realise that along with the need to sell, promote, fight the system and rebel, there is also a need to embellish and entertain in a non profit way without the need to cause damage to property.

The act of removing the work intrigues. Almost an act of situationist art itself. Is there guilt? Why is it taken – as part of a street cleaning operation, consigned to the rubbish heap? or coveted and displayed? Are they artists themselves? Kids, willing to steal and destroy purely for the act of rebellion or someone never faced with something completely free, not promoting or selling? After all how many things do you know that are completely free, no strings attached?

All street artists, whether producing static or removable art, hope to promote discussion in one form or other: “Talk about me and my work”, “Question the images thrown at you”, or “Use your political power”.

Up in the Press

2015-07-23 E&E What's On p10I didn’t know whether ‘Up in the Air’ would be picked up by the local press, but the 23 July edition of Express and Echo gave it a couple of inches in What’s On, just before the end of the show.

On the same day, Chemistry World published an article entitled “Weaving is believing”, which mentioned Particulart among other means of representing chemistry in yarn. Chemistry World is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, “bringing you the latest chemistry news and research every day”. Can’t get much more illustrious than that!

If you’re still inclined to see knitting and needlework through that stereotypical prism – all Women’s Institutes and tea cosies – you’d better wake up. Knitting is radical. Just look up guerilla knitting, or yarn bombing: textile-based graffiti of a sort that deserves to give street art a good name. Its potential to register gently subversive protest has inspired two artists in the West Country [alright my luvver!], under the name Particulart, to knit molecules implicated in air pollution and climate change: you can download the patterns and make your own cuddly molecules, should you wish.

And the exhibition was featured in a nice post by Nicky Shobeiry on the Glorious Gallery blog.

‘Sulphur hexafluoride’, ‘Tetrafluoromethane’ and ‘Fluorform’ [sic] might not be words you expect to see as part of your everyday art exhibition, but then again, Clare Bryden is not your everyday artist (if there even is such a thing!). With a background in science, economics, energy and the environment, Clare’s ‘Up in the Air’ exhibit is one with a very particular message about our climate. Below, I speak to her about it all – including the importance of squishy knitted molecules.