On the sunny 9th and drenching 10th of August, a group of artists, environmentalists, and community workers met in Fife as part of a series of event coordinated by Fife Contemporary Arts and Crafts, Polarcap, and Edinburgh Sculpture Studios. (For reports on earlier events, see the ecoartscotland blog and the Greener Leith Blog)
The themes were land, walls, boundaries – plus John Muir and China. The first venue for a day of walk and talk was the Ecology Centre near Burntisland, with its impressive blend of social and ecological engagement. Ronnie Mackie and Julie Samuel explained how determination had made the place happen, by nurturing volunteer contributions and generating community input. Biodiversity is catered for too, with this wetland created from a former industrial dump. We found toads, well-tended poly-tunnels, allotments and more.
John Muir was the main topic of afternoon talks, being introduced by Liz Adamson of Polarcap and Jo Moulin in the afternoon of talks – Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar is a visitor centre that contributes to sustainable living in East Lothian. The group mulled over the Muir quote: “I went out for a walk and stayed out till sundown, for going out I found I was really going in.” Wild development was an idea presented in another form in scenes of contemporary China presented by Peter Lindow.
On the wet 10th, we convened at Falkland Centre for Stewardship. The day was introduced by Ninian Stuart and Tess Darwin with a tour of woodland walks and farmland – following boundaries and learning (indoors) how the estate has become a place to learn to live more sustainably, threading traditions of stewardship with community involvement and ecological design. The Centre extends support to artwork such as Resounding – sound installation including work by Louise K Wilson – and also to a new conservation project – Lomond Living Landscapes. The latter was presented by David Munro, describing how the ‘commonty‘ of the hills (currently dissected by the Fife/Perth boundary) had been successively divided and enclosed, with ‘marches’ and ‘meiths’ [boundaries] surviving.
How can art/craft and biodiversity link? This was a themes developed by Reheema White, lecturer in Sustainable Development at St Andrews. Her presentation made no bones about the implications of species loss and unsustainable lifestyles, but allowed for a creative engagement. This allowed me to explain why I value ecoartscotland as a network, seeing ‘ecoart’ as linking different kinds of knowledge and moving ourselves outwith comfort zones.
A theme emerged: what would John Muir take into account if he were alive now? One response was that having taken Teddy Roosevelt to the Yosemite, he might take Alex Salmond to Menie Links in Aberdeenshire (the Trump development). A stimulating event of exchanges, with no particular outcome required but things brewing.
posted by Kate Foster