The first Cross-pollination exhibition opens on Saturday 8th July and runs until 29th August and is in the Oriel Yr Ardd Gallery and in other sites at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The following collaborative projects will be on show – please see ‘Collaborations’ for further information and details of the venue are on the NBGW blog
Cross -pollination -Revaluing Pollinators through Arts and Science Collaboration is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Networking project that aims to bring Art and Science together to produce creative art projects that explore and promote the crisis facing pollinators and to influence policy decision making.
Additional funding has been provided by the Arts Council of Wales, to enhance the art work production and to increase the impact of the project.
The project is led by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in partnership with Aberystwyth University and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The ultimate aim is to contribute towards the protection of our pollinators
Intensive farming, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and climate change across the world has resulted in a widespread decline of pollinators. There is evidence to suggest that the ways in which pollinators are perceived and valued has significant implications for their conservation. This project, Cross-pollination, will provide the opportunity for artists, art researchers, scientists, environmental linguists, specialists in economic evaluation of bio-diversity and environmental decision makers to share ideas, discuss values, and develop strategies for inter-disciplinary research and dissemination, with a particular focus on pollination decline.
There are 14 art- work projects in the pipeline -see under ‘COLLABORATIONS’.
Photograph by Jax Robinson
Two of the crucial events of this project are the ‘Art Crits’ to explore how the communication between the scientists and the artists will work and to further the understanding of the collaboration processes. The Art-crit is a model of learning whereby artists present their work to a group in order to gain feedback on how that work is being ‘read’ and ways that they might develop it further. The work ‘crit’ is a shortened version of the word critique (not criticism) and is a process in which people discuss ideas stimulated by an art object, drawing, painting etc. It is comparable to the 19th Century Salon, in which intellectuals, writers, artist and critics formed informal meetings to discuss the context, content, and rational behind an artwork or artefact together with an analysis of its aesthetic properties and visual intent.
The fist Art Crit has now been held using Skype where the collaborative projects were discussed in detail. The artists presented their work to date and this was discussed between the scientists and the artists. For ease of technology (although there are always some hitches) the projects were split into three sessions. The most significant question that arose from the science perspective, when looking at images for textiles, was
“How do people view this as information rather than a beautiful image?”
The artist responded that art provokes responses and ideas rather than telling people the information. Intrigue encourages further investigation, so that viewers think and work at this information. It allows viewers to consider ‘visual information’ to create questioning, and this combined with the scientific research is especially helpful to visual learners to gain a more enriched experience and deeper understanding of the information holistically.
The sharing of ideas whilst viewing the work to date and the future plans encouraged further collaborations between the scientists and the stakeholders, for example The Heart of Wales Line (Railway) is developing pollinator gardens at each of its stations, and is being renamed The Bee Line. Three artists are working on projects with The Bee Line, and as a result of the crit a collaboration has developed with Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and The Bee Line.
The final Art Crit will now take place in June/July.
We are pleased to announce that the Cross-pollination project has been successful in obtaining Arts Council of Wales (ACW) funding for the production of the arts works. We applied to the ACW as the meetings of scientists, artists and stake-holders have been so successful that the individual art/science projects have become more ambitious and exciting. Instead of the 8 individual artworks originally planned there are now 14 in the pipeline. We would like to express our thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for making this possible.
PROGRESS WITH THE PROJECTS
The fourteen projects are underway, with some exciting results already, these are being posted under ‘COLLABORATIONS’. In addition five undergraduate Fine Art students have been working with artist Sarah Tombs on the project ‘Pollinator Trail’ at Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm. One of the undergraduates Myles Mansfield has bee making large scale insects from scrap machines and metal, and will be working with family visitors this Easter at the Bug Farm.
Professor Andrea Liggins (photographic artist, Honorary Research Fellow and retired Dean of Art and Design at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and Professor Mike Christie (Head of Aberystwyth University’s School of Management and Business), have recently attained £45k funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a pioneering project that will combine Art with Science to explore new insights into perceptions of the value of honeybees and other wild pollinators and how this new knowledge might best be used to influence conservation policy decisions.
The ‘Cross-pollination’ project will address these issues through the development of a collaborative network that brings together prestige and award-winning artists and scientists from the UK, Ireland and the U.S.A., along with key stakeholders including Dr Natasha De Vere (National Botanic Garden of Wales (NGBW)), Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife.
Pollinators are facing huge declines across the world due to habitat destruction, pests, diseases, intensification of farming, biodiversity loss and climate change. There is evidence to suggest that the ways in which pollinators are perceived and valued has significant implications for their conservation.
The Cross-pollination project will provide an opportunity for experts from different disciplines to share ideas, discuss values, and develop strategies for inter-disciplinary research and dissemination, with a particular focus on working collaboratively to produce exhibitions of artwork that challenge perceptions, that help demonstrate the benefits that pollinators provide and highlight the decline in pollinator populations.
Professor Liggins said: “By drawing on existing networks, the Cross-pollination project will bring together key scientists, artists and stakeholders to participate in a series of exploratory arts workshops that will explore theories of aesthetics, sensory perception, differences in perspectives and language, and investigate possible creative interactions and partnerships”.
“People often think of scientists and artists as being at opposite ends of the spectrum in their work life, even though they may share the same interests in music, theatre and sports for example. It is true that they can work in very different ways and see the world differently, and even use a different language when talking about their work. However, they share a lot of similarities; they are usually passionate about what they do, and do not usually work a 9 to 5 day, but their work can occupy their time, and their thoughts, day and night. Often, for both scientists and artists, their work is a leap into the unknown, and both groups ask the question: ‘What if?’”
Andrea has collaborated with Natasha De Vere (NBGW) on the Barcode Wales project and other UK projects, exhibiting the photography in China and India and at the National Eisteddfod, Llanelli in 2014.
“Artists and scientists have different training and this affects their views of the world. Working with artists helps me see the work from alternative perspectives, helping me come up with new ideas and think more creatively” explains Dr Natasha de Vere.
Prof Mike Christie said: “Over the past 20 years I have been involved in many research projects that have utilised natural science and economic methods to provide evidence to justify and target nature conservation policies. What is novel and exciting about the Cross-pollination project is that we will highlight how art can be used to demonstrate a multitude of ways in which people value nature and explore how this new evidence might best feed into the design of nature conservation policies”.
It is envisaged that around 10 pieces of art will be generated as part of this project and that they will be on display next year at NBGW, Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, the Heart of Wales Railway line, as well as in China
Image by Karen Ingham
Please look under COLLABORATIONS on the header menu for the latest progress with the planning of the individual art/science Pollinator projects.
Now we had all met, Day Two was about sharing ideas and forming collaborative partnerships. The day didn’t go exactly as planned, the enthusiasm of everyone concerned meant that new plans were made that were better than anticipated. Instead of artists and scientists pairing, many wanted to work in more than one group so collective themes were arrived upon. These were:-
Farming and Environment Policy
Pollinators and their Habitats
Preservation (Wild Bees)
Lines and Journeys
Perception and Motivation
The process of arriving at these themes was fairly easy but required a lot of post-it papers and much discussion.
At the end of the day Professor Mike Christie talked about Policy making and Art, and Dr Natasha De Vere gave a tour of the wonderful National Botanic Garden of Wales, with a focus on the new butterfly house in the making.
The 7th and 8th April 2016 was an exciting time for the Cross-pollination project. During these two days the Intro Event took place at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Alex Campus, Swansea and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
All the participants came together to share ideas, discuss their wide-ranging research and start the collaboration process, which will culminate next year in exhibitions of art works and a major conference.
This project is developing an inter-disciplinary research network on pollinators. The network comprises of natural, social, economic and arts researchers, artists and policy stakeholders. During the project this network, through collaborative art projects, will explore how science and art research can interact to create new ideas and innovative methodologies for research into pollinators.
Participants of the project include award-winning scientists in the area of pollinator research from the UK and USA and high profile arts researchers from the fields of aesthetics, perception and community arts. Important additions are linguists studying the language of environmental research and its affect on perceived values. The project leader Professor Andrea Liggins (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) has undertaken a number of science/art projects, most recently with Dr De Vere Head of Science and Conservation at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, who is an important participant and was instrumental in the development of this project. Professor Michael Christie’s (Aberystwyth University) expertise in the Valuation of Nature for Ecosystem Service Sustainability, will provide a further focus for the project.
A number of the representatives in policy making organisations are also involved, such as members of the Pollinator Taskforce Wales and the Intergovernmental Science -Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Co-I Christie has led a number of research projects involved in the economic evaluation of nature and bio-diversity and was PI for the NERC Valuing Nature Steering project. Further confirmed beneficiaries, who have been involved in the development of Cross- pollination include the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (Bee Wild project), BugLife, The Bee Garden at the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW), Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, and the Heart of Wales Line and Arriva Trains Wales 120 Miles of Garden project.
The day started with presentations about art/science collaborations from the perspective of firstly the artist and then the scientist. This was followed by 16 Pecha Kucha where each participant had 6 minutes and 40 seconds to describe their research, no easy task!
PechaKucha or Pecha Kucha (pronounced ‘pech-a-kee-shoe’ and is Japanese for ‘chit-chat’ ) is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format was conceived to keep presentations concise and fast-paced. Pecha Kucha has been used by artists and designers to view several presentations within a short time period.
This was followed by a speed-networking event (a little like speed-dating) where each scientist and artist had a chance to meet and discuss possible collaborative art projects for 15 mins.
The day finished with a meal at a local restaurant talking well into the evening.