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Interview: Lucy Orta

Written by
Anna Castleton
Published date
07 February 2014

As UAL’s 2014 Green Week begins we speak to new Chair of Art in the Environment Lucy Orta. Lucy has been a Professor of Art and the Environment at London College of Fashion since 2007. She was the inaugural Rootstein Hopkins Chair from 2002–7, and was Head of Man & Humanity at the Design Academy Eindhoven, a pioneering socially driven and sustainable master program, she co-founded in 2002. Lucy’s work has been the focus of major survey exhibitions at the Weiner Secession, Austria (1999); the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of South Florida, for which she received the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts award (2001); and the Barbican Centre, London (2005).


What does it mean to be a University Chair of Art in the Environment and what do you hope to achieve in this role?
Twelve university chairs have just been appointed, which is a pioneering project for UAL. Our role will be to enhance student experience through workshops, seminars, lectures and master classes so that the students take away a broader overview of their studies and understand more deeply the cross-disciplinary nature of their work. This is very exciting especially as my work has always been cross-disciplinary and if I can share my knowlege and my experiences across the University and bring people together around sustainable issues, then collectively we may have a stronger chance of making changes in the world, be they environment, social, or whatever.

What message would you most like to convey to students about the role of art and design in improving sustainability?
The only way forward is to work collaboratively and share competences.

How do you think art and design can change the way people think and behave?
Art and design is unique we have a force because we are neither politicians or business-men, we can communicate across media and we have the gift of creativity and the power of our ideas.

This year’s Green Week is focusing on waste and recycling, why are these so important within a creative context?
I wish it was Green Month, or even Green Year. Simple gestures should be part of our daily routines. But, creating a focus is important to targeting the issues and highlighting innovative practices that we can aspire to.

What one personal resolution would you recommend everyone could start this week to play their part in turning the tide of climate change?
Do not buy bottled water. Or if you have to out of necessity, the recycle it into something that can stimulate debate about the subject.

 Which UAL Green Week event most sparks your interest?
Design for Social Impact, Life on the Road, Survival Debate.

Who is your sustainability hero/heroine in the arts?
TED  – the most amazing stories that have changed the world all under one umbrella.

Find out more about Lucy Orta and UAL’s Chairs

Read more about UAL’s 2014 Green Week

Follow UAL Green Week 2014 on social media and share your stories #UALGreenWeek

Read more UAL Edit interviews