News Archive 2014


October 15, 2014

Lecture "Looking into the abyss: Artistic practice between opening the senses and psychic numbing in an age of climate fear"
Reykjavik, Iceland

Wednesday October 15, 12.10 PM, Iceland Academy of the Arts, Þverholti 11, Reykjavik.
In the lecture, Jan van Boeckel will explore what contribution art can provide when searching for strategies to cope with the unsettling news of impending catastrophic climate change and other manifestations of the current ecological crisis. One of the challenges in an age of climate fear is to be able to navigate between opening our senses fully or, instead, surrendering to psychic numbing.

Photo credit: Ilkka Halso

Download poster (PDF)

See the lecture on YouTube

Autumn 2014

Schumacher College - Creativity and Design
Dartington, United Kingdom

Below are some exciting residential short course and postgraduate programmes in art and ecology, creative engagement, ecological design, writing and storytelling for personal and social transformation ast Schumacher College.

Short courses for 2014

Asking the Beautiful Question , 11 – 15 June
With David Whyte and Satish Kumar
Workshops, readings and intimate discussion with two of the most inspiring soul writers of our time.

Dark Mountain – New Stories at the Cliff Edge, 23 – 27 June
With Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine
Radical creative thinking from the founders of the Dark Mountain movement.

This Body of Land – An Introduction to Eco-Art, 28 July – 1 August
With Ana Flores, Peter Randall Page and Susan Derges
Investigate your relationship with the natural world through artistic expression – no experience required.

The Art of Invitation – Creative Engagement for Ourselves and Our Communities, 4 – 8 August
With Ruth Ben Tovim (Encounters), Anne-Marie Culhane, Lucy Neal, Alan Bolden, Sarah Woods and Farzana Khan (Platform)
Explore and practice creative ways of engaging people in social and environmental action.

August 18-22, 2014

Late Summer Wildpainting Course
Jotunheimen Mountains, Norway

At this 5 day painting course, participants will draw and paint the rough and breathtaking landscape along lake Gjendebu in the Jotunheimen National Park in Norway. Teacher Jan van Boeckel, himself a landscape painter, will facilitate a form of painting which he calls “wildpainting”, connecting with nature in new and exciting ways, in an effort to see the world around us with fresh eyes. All participants will get personal instructions and feedback, in either Dutch, English or Swedish. The course price includes full accommodation (in shared bedrooms for two persons) and delicious food at Gjendebu hytta. The mountain hut is only reachable by hiking on foot or by taking the small ferry acroos the long, outstretched lake of Gjende.

The painting medium that is used is acrylic paint. Participants will be using a painting easel and will paint on paper. (50 x 70 cm). Paints, brushes and paper will be provided and are part of the course fee.  The course ends Friday afternoon. At 16 PM, a boat leaves Gjendebu to Gjendesheim, from where a connecting direct bus can bring you to Oslo (arrival 22.05 PM). The course will take place if there are at least six participants.

Course fee (five days and nights, including accomdation and food): €475
(If you sleep in your own tent, it is €380)

Course dates:  18 -22 August, 2014

More on  wildpainting:
Website of Gjendebu DNT hytta (mountain cabin): Location on Google maps

Travel to Gjendebu
Bus (a little more than 5 hours) from Olso bus terminal to Gjendesheim (harbour of the ferry): NOR-WAY Bussekspress. Information on the connecting ferry to Gjendebu:

For more information:
Download the course flyer (PDF)


 26-29 August, 2014

Call for Papers | “Geoaesthetics: art, environment and co-production”
Session at RGS-IBG 2014 Annual International Conference, London

Session convened by Miriam Burke, Royal Holloway, University of London; Sasha Engelmann, University of Oxford; Harriet Hawkins, Royal Holloway, University of London

Abstract: Alongside the well-established rise of citizen science and participatory democracies in co-production of knowledge, there has been an exciting parallel expansion in the use of creative and artistic methodologies for the production of, engagement with, and dissemination of knowledge about the environment. Building on this body of work, so often focused on human participants, this session addresses the ways in which contemporary geographical and art practices are brilliantly suited to explore expanded ideas of human and non-human ‘publics’ in the co-production of environmental knowledge. Thus, alongside artists enrolling lay or “non-expert” environmental knowings, we find other practitioners collaborating with the environment itself: for example with non-humans who are ‘big-like-us’, microbes which are not, and even with inanimate forces and environmental matters.
Within the ontological shift to a non-dualistic view of ‘naturecultures’, what can we learn from creative and artistic methods of co-production and engagement with the world around us? How might artistic practices help geographers and others to take account of the forces and matters of the ‘geo’?

Themes may cover, but need not be restricted to the following questions:
· What kinds of creative methodologies are being employed by artists, geographers and others to create new spaces of encounter between humans and nonhumans?
· How do we understand ‘impact’ in terms of creative co-production of knowledge with the environment, the public and nonhumans?
· Who and what are we co-producing knowledge with?
· What kinds of participatory practices are invented by creative projects that seek to enrol both human and nonhuman actors?
· What may an expanded notion of ‘publics’ look like, and in what specific ways do creative methods contribute to these new public configurations?
· How can we creatively engage non-humans in the artist process, and how do non-humans engage us in their creative practices?
· How is co-produced knowledge disseminated?
· How can creative and artistic practices facilitate engagement with non-relational and insensible parts of the world?

This session aims to showcase and learn from different practitioners using these ideas in research. Creative and participatory means of presentation are very welcome.
To Submit: Please send abstracts of 200 words to all conveners (Miriam Burke, Sasha Engelmann and Harriet Hawkins) by 14th February 2014.

June 14-18, 2014

Wildpainting course in Bize-Minervois, France

NEW: Images of Painting in Strong Colors in French Mediterranean

Welcome to colorful days in the inspiring landscape of southern France with Jan van Boeckel
The week before Midsummer a 5-day painting course will take place in the medieval village of Bize-Minervois. On top of the hill next to the village you can see the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Pyrenees at the other side of the valley.
Are you in for a painting course where the focus is on process rather than outcome? Where we immerse ourselves in enjoying the colors, the sun and in the sharing of what we see and experience? Then this is the course for you. Many people have grown to mistrust their own creativity due to experiences earlier in life. “That is not the way a lemon should look!” Or: “Those colors really don’t fit together!” But deep down this desire to create still lingers in each of us. And it can be rekindled.
This course will also be meaningful to those who feel that the relationship between humans and nature has impoverished tremendously in today’s society. Painting and being in nature is to experience the landscape with all of our senses. As Paul Cézanne said: “When I paint, the landscape expresses itself through me: I am its consciousness.”


Wildpainting means two things: to paint wild landscapes and to paint in a different, surprisingly new way. The aim is to open up to the aesthetics and the energies of the landscape by trying to experience it as if one perceives it for the first time. It basically means to dare to draw and paint in quite a different way than we are accustomed to: leaves don't always have to be green and the sky not eternally blue. Instead we try to observe afresh, deeper and deeper, letting the motive come to us as we become aware of it there and then. In that way, the artistic process became something between meditation and perceiving the world the way a child does.
We use acrylic paints and heavy paper, charcoal and pencils. The art materials are included in the price. The course will last approximately five hours per day with a lunch break. Each participant will receive personal instructions from the teacher. There is no requirement of having prior artistic skills. What is needed is the enthusiasm to participate in this process and a desire to learn something new.
The course starts on Saturday June 15 and ends the day before Midsummer, on June 20. For those who want to stay over for the Midsummer weekend, we will organize a Swedish Midsummer celebration with a French touch!

June 11-14, 2014

Conference "Welcome to the Anthropocene: From Global Challenge to Planetary Stewardship"
Pace University, New York City
2014 Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences

Call for Proposals Now Open!
The theme for the conference is “Welcome to the Anthropocene: From Global Challenge to Planetary Stewardship.” Several of the panels, as well as keynote speakers, will focus on the argument advanced by many environmental experts that Earth has entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, or “the recent age of humans.” Proponents of this theory contend that humans have become a global geophysical force capable of disrupting the grand cycles of biology, chemistry and geology by which elements like carbon and nitrogen circulate between land, sea and atmosphere. This is resulting in profound alteration of the planet’s climate, serious threats to a large array of species and critical ecosystems and conversion of fertile lands to desert.

The conference theme will allow AESS to showcase its interdisciplinary strengths on this vitally important topic -

In terms of knowledge:
• What are the roles of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences in helping to confront planetary threats posed by anthropogenic activities and to develop a sustainable future?
• How can creative interdisciplinary linkages—such as coupled human-natural systems— help us address profound environmental challenges e.g. climate change, ocean acidification, and species extinctions?
• How do we address planetary-scale challenges at the local, regional, and global levels?

In terms of teaching and education:
• What should the dialog with our students and the general public look like in discussing anthropogenic impacts on the planet? How do we balance the need to discuss profoundly serious threats with the need to offer hope?
• What pedagogical approaches are most effective in discussing these issues?

In terms of practical application:
• How can we partner with communities, governments, NGOs, the media, to generate more effective frameworks and solutions to addressing planetary challenges? Can we showcase innovative case studies and partnerships to highlight what’s working—and importantly—what’s not working?

2-5 July, 2014

Soil Culture
Falmouth, United Kingdom

We are inviting all those who have an interest in soil, art and education to join us at Falmouth University for our Soil Culture Forum.

In addition to films, art events, presentations and some good local food, there will be a series of creative workshops where you will be able to touch the earth and learn about the different ways in which artists use it.
Prepare to experiment, play and get a little bit dirty!
For more information or to register for the Forum visit: Soil Culture | Using the arts to revitalise our relationship with a resource we take for granted..


9-11 June, 2014

Bees for Architecture and Architecture for Bees | Melliferopolis Workshop III
Helsinki, Finland

Call for Participants

Artist talk by Nigel Helyer 27th May, 2014
Workshop 9-11th June, 2014

Workshop outline
“Bees for Architecture and Architecture for Bees” is a three day workshop at the Kaisanemi Botanical Gardens offered by Australian artist Dr. Nigel Helyer as part of the ongoing Melliferopolis urban bee project. The workshop will be preceded by an introductory seminar and lecture.
Working with natural materials gathered from the Gardens we will concentrate on sculptural approaches to create Bee friendly hives which we will incorporate into large figurative works to be installed in the Park.
The second focus is the creation of a series of small sculptural objects to be housed inside conventional bee hives allowing the Bees to ‘co-create’ works which will later be shown as part of a Melliferopolis exhibition.

Please send an email to by Friday 23rd May, 18 pm to register to the workshop. Title " Melliferopolis workshop 2014" and your name.
We would like to have max 100 words description of you and your motivations to take part to the workshop. Max 15 participants will be selected.

Workshop Schedule
Pre-workshop reading_01 (

9th June - Day 01, 10-17 hours
Introduction and orientation to the project and the gardens.
Bees and Architecture, a short historical overview discussion.
Architecture for Bees - small objects design development.
Architecture for Bees - small objects creation.

10th June - Day 02, 10-17 hours
Review - Architecture for Bees - small objects creation.
Discussion - The Wicker Man and The Green Man.
Installation sculpture and hive - design development.
Installation sculpture and hive - object creation.

11th June - Day 03, 10-17 hours
Installation sculpture and hive - complete object creation.
Installation site visit - and possible placement of work.
Closing discussion/feedback to review workshop .

Times and Venues
Artist talk 27th May, 2014, at 17 - 19 hours at Eläintarhan Huvila ( Eläintarhantie 12, Linnunlaulu, Helsinki)
A public lecture “Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee,” by artist Nigel Helyer charts the evolving inter-species relationship between humans and bees and focusses in particular upon the changing historical metaphors and human attitudes towards the ’super-organism’.
Workshop 9-11th June, 2014 at 10-17 hours, at Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden of Helsinki University, (Unioninkatu 44, Helsinki, Finland)
The workshop is part of ongoing Melliferopolis - Honeybees in Urban Environments project and supported by Kone Foundation.

In collaboration with Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture, Helsinki University Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden and City of Helsinki Cultural Office.

Dr. Nigel Helyer is an internationally prominent sound artist who’s interdisciplinary practice combines art and science to embrace our social, cultural and physical environments. He brings these concerns together in poetic art projects that prompt the community to engage with their cultural histories, identity and sense of place; inviting us to examine the abstract conditions of our world and our complex relationships to it. Principal web archive -



February 22-23, 2014

The Art of Nature - Beauty and Complexity
London, United Kingdom

Bringing artists, environmentalists and community together to enable full participation

A two day weekend event 22/23 February bringing artists, environmentalists and community together, with presentations by David Haley, Kerry Morrison, Celia Spouncer, Bill Butterworth, Shelley Sacks, Ceri Buckmaster and Clive Adams. Organised by UNESCO UK MAB Urban Forum Arts Group, held at Greenpeace HQ Islington, London, UK.

Complexity is the shortest route to a solution. The Art of Nature aims to highlight one powerful road that artists, environmentalists and community can take by coming together to address environmental complexity through the arts.
The battle to protect the earth, our only home, can only be won with mass participation alongside sound science. In order to switch on the capacity of people to contribute fully to sustainable development, we need to move beyond simple messages to build layers and layers of understanding of complex environmental concepts. The unique quality of the arts is inspired understanding versus intellectual understanding. It takes a leap across the gap!
The 9 in-depth events across the UK will take on a simple format. We will introduce outstanding ecological arts projects addressing complexity alongside projects that give environmental, social and cultural contexts, followed by substantial time for discussion and working together. The presenters will be participants and the participants can be impromptu presenters. We aim for a legacy of dynamic forums working towards a future in which environmental complexity will be an ongoing feature of community life. Join us!

Day 1
3 ecological arts projects demonstrating the power and significance of inspired understanding in communicating complex environmental concepts
World Café – discussion/impromptu 5 minute presentations/working together

Day 2
3 projects bringing in environmental, social, or cultural themes demonstrating the layers of narrative
Open Space Technology – – discussion/impromptu 5 minute presentations/ working together

Participant preparation for working together:
Artists - Be prepared to expand the wider potential of your work. Bring examples of your work and methodology.
Environmentalists - Identify and name the complex environmental concepts that people need to grasp. Consider creating opportunities for artists to work with you to access the understanding needed. Name possible sites and scenarios.
Community representatives – Identify how environmental themes link into social and cultural contexts to make meaning and generate motivation to act. Name possible sites and scenarios.
Impromptu presentations - The events are about in depth conversations. At relevant points you may propose to give a 5 minute presentation.
All – Imagine new opportunities into reality, working towards partnerships that enable addressing environmental complexity to be an ongoing feature of community life.

London Event 22-23 February 2014 at Greenpeace Headquarters, Islington.

Day 1
Presentations: David Haley (Reclaiming Hongkong – a life support system), Kerry Morrison (Alternative Views), Celia Spouncer (Green Veins)
Discussion and working together

Day 2
Presentations: Bill Butterworth (The Promised Land), Shelley Sacks (University of Trees), Ceri Buckmaster (Foraging and Street Food), Clive Adams (Soil Culture)
Discussion and working together.


29 April - 3 May, 2014

Conference "Framing Nature: Signs, Stories, and Ecologies of Meaning"
Tartu, Estonia, April 22-26, 2014

The European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and the Environment (EASLCE) biennial conference & Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES) IX conference
Hosted by the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Wendy Wheeler (London Metropolitan University)
Ernest Hess-Lüttich (University of Bern)
Steven Hartman (Mid Sweden University; Royal Institute of
Technology, Stockholm) and Thomas McGovern (City University of
New York)

Call for papers
To submit a proposal, interested scholars should send an abstract (up to 500 words) by e-mail to the address: The deadline for the abstracts is October 1, 2013.
Please download full CFP at

For additional information and further updates please visit the
conference website at

Timo Maran
Senior Research Fellow
Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu

“No meaning without a frame” – thus one might boil down the insights yielded by a century of research in the humanities. To interpret something as meaningful is to put it into a context, into a frame of reference within which it can begin to make sense. This holds not only for human signification, but also for the processes of signification that occur in the natural world, as they have been studied by biosemiotics. In a double take on its title, this conference inquires into the multiple, complex ways in which humans frame nature and are in turn framed by it. It seeks to explore the figure of the frame as an ecological concept which draws attention to the way in which meanings are embedded in and sustained by environments that are at once material and semiotic. At the same time, it invites a closer examination of the strategies of framing and contextualization that are constitutive of ecocritical research, as well as a comparison of ecocritical methodologies with those of neighbouring disciplines in the environmental humanities.

In turning their attention to the way in which natural environments and human cultures have mutually shaped each other, ecocriticism and environmental history can be said to have subverted the traditional hierarchy which subordinates the frame to that which it frames, in a manner reminiscent of Derrida’s logic of the supplement. The issue of framing immediately opens up a host of profound theoretical questions for the environmental humanities. Jakob von Uexküll’s theory of “Umwelt” can be seen as conceptualizing the way in which living organisms frame the natural world, each constituting its own environment through the limitations imposed by its perceptual apparatus. Juri Lotman described artistic texts as secondary modelling systems by demonstrating how they reassemble the subject matter according to the rules of the genre, narrative and cultural epochs – an approach with important implications for environmental mimesis. Gregory Bateson, in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind, emphasised the surrounding contexts and environments that precede and surpass all frames and form the prerequisites of any signifying action.

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