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Art for the Environment: Conversations

Jungle Experiments in the Amazon
Jungle Experiments in the Amazon

Written by
Post-Grad Community
Published date
11 January 2021

AER Conversations Programme

While the residencies were temporarily paused due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Art for the Environment (AER) Conversations series was created.  With the aim to offer a platform in which ideas and experiences are exchanged. Within the current climate emergency, AER partners, residents and UAL alumni come together to reflect on the impact and legacy of their practices and to reflect on their creative role in envisioning a world of tomorrow.

This series of conversations is organised by Camilla Palestra, AER Curator, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, in collaboration with UAL Post-Grad Community.

Upcoming events


Recordings of past events

AER Background

Launched in 2015 by Professor Lucy Orta, the Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) has been providing UAL graduates with the exceptional opportunity to take part in fully funded residencies in partnership with our internationally renowned host institutions, to live a unique experience while exploring concerns that define the 21st century: biodiversity, environmental sustainability, social economy, and human rights. Find out more

Partner Institutions 

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organisation built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organisation leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From their home in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential.

Joya: arte + ecología is an art led field-research centre and not for profit arts organisation based at the farmstead of Cortijada Los Gázquez. The residency offers an ‘off-grid’ experience in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez in the north of the Provincia de Almería, Andalucía. The family-home environment of Joya aims to facilitate, through production and collaboration, artists whose work manifests a discourse with the environment and sustainability.

Domaine de Boisbuchet. Design Architecture Nature integrates innovative architecture and design into the splendid setting of a 19th century French country estate, offering a unique creative and collaborative environment for people of all cultures to share. Boisbuchet's intensive workshop programmes invest deeply in cultures that respect the past and build for the future, at the same time stimulating research that promotes a more sustainable relationship between the natural and the man-made.

Thread is a residency program and cultural centre that allows local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the south-eastern region of Senegal. It houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space. A project by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and le korsa, Thread posits that art, culture, and architecture should be supported in tandem with agriculture, education, and health, co-supporting one another. As such, they mobilize the same tenets of inclusion and intersection that made the Bauhaus such a creative success.

The Mahler & LeWitt Studios, sited in the old town of Spoleto, makes use of the former studios of stone sculptor Anna Mahler and conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, as well as a medieval tower known as the Torre Bonomo. Spoleto is an ancient hill- top town strategically situated on the foothills of the Appenines, at the head of a broad valley in Umbria, central Italy. Mahler & LeWitt Studios residencies value personal space for creative reflection whilst also encouraging in-depth and dynamic working relationships to evolve between peers and an engagement with the region.

LABVERDE: Art Immersion Program in the Amazon was created to strengthen the limits of art through a broad array of experiences, knowledge sets and cultural perspectives involving art, science and nature. The program’s main goal is to promote artistic creation through a constructive debate about environmental issues supported by theory, data and life experiences in the Amazon rainforest.  The LABVERDE Program is a Ten-day immersion in the Amazon Forest to be inspired by nature and to produce cultural artwork, mediated by a team of specialist.

Making for Change: Waltham Forest is a partnership project between London College of Fashion (LCF) and London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF). The project aimed at exploring ways in which fashion activism, design and making can be used to catalyse positive change and activate legacies within the local community. The project team, led by Dr Francesco Mazzarella, engaged local schools, businesses and residents in order to develop and retain creative talent in the borough and address issues affecting the community, such as deprived youth, skills shortage, fashion manufacturing decline and unemployment.

Berengo Studio was established in 1989 by Adriano Berengo whose goal was to take glass to a new level by bringing contemporary artists from around the world to work with the glass maestros of Murano. Most of these artists have never worked in glass and have the opportunity to explore this medium. In 2009, Berengo created Glasstress, an exhibition of contemporary art in glass, which is an official collateral event in the Venice Biennale. Glasstress has featured artists of international acclaim who have created works of art in glass with the maestros of Berengo Studio.

Fondazione Berengo, established in 2014, is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the creation, promotion and preservation of contemporary art with a special focus on works in or about glass. The foundation’s goal is to foster a dialogue about contemporary art and glass and in doing so preserve and promote centuries old Murano heritage of glassmaking and its traditions by education and innovation.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is a leading centre for modern and contemporary sculpture, where art and nature come together in 500 acres of historic parkland. YSP curates changing displays of sculpture by international artists in the open air, including Alfredo Jaar, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Ai Weiwei, Phyllida Barlow, Anya Gallaccio, Damien Hirst, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. There are site-specific works in the landscape by David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy, as well as a stunning James Turrell Skyspace. Exhibitions are also presented in six indoor galleries alongside a thriving visiting artist programme.

Speaker Biographies

Sarah Coulson is Curator / Publications Lead at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, working across all areas of the artistic programme, including digital content. Most recently she curated Saad Qureshi’s first museum exhibition for YSP’s Chapel. Sarah works closely with artists to produce YSP’s publications and has managed the delivery of significant off-site projects, including Ursula von Rydingsvard at the 2015 Venice Biennale. She has an interest in poetry, recently working with Simon Armitage and Jackie Kay on commissioned poetry collections for YSP. Sarah is a Trustee at Borders Sculpture Park at Mellerstain House in the Scottish Borders, where she has curated large-scale site-specific projects.

Magz Hall is a sound and radio artist who has exhibited in the UK at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, British Museum, Tate Britain, The Sainsbury Centre, Whitechapel Gallery, Barbican, V&A, Jerwood Visual Arts, and internationally at MACBA Barcelona, in Denmark, Italy, Germany, Norway, Morocco, Canada and the USA and broadcasted internationally. Her work Tree Radio at YSP was a finalist for British Composer Award in Sonic Art 2016. Magz heads Radio Arts having curated works for exhibition, broadcast, and led numerous hands-on workshops with the public in arts spaces. Much of her sound-based work is concerned with the future use of radio inspired by 100 years of international radio art practice. A founder of London arts station Resonance FM and community arts radio in the UK, she is a senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University in the School of Arts and Industries.

Ellie Niblock is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily with sculpture, digital technologies, and installation. Her work is concerned with the exploration of unknowable places, and she is interested in exploring the possibilities of how materiality and technologies can alter our perception of experiences. Ellie has participated in solo and group exhibitions across the UK, India, Latvia and the USA including working with venues such as Tate Exchange and The Mark Rothko Centre. Her work is part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s permanent collection. Ellie has an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins.

Jane Rushton is the director of Fondazione Berengo which was founded by Adriano Berengo, the visionary behind Berengo Studio, an innovative glass studio on Murano bringing art to glass. Jane is a transplanted New York financial services lawyer with a passion for the arts who now lives and works in Venice.  As part of her work with Fondazione Berengo, she was instrumental in bringing a teacher and several of his students from Bulgaria to work in the furnace and more recently, a young woman glassblower from Brazil. She also works with the established artists and museums in organizing exhibitions including the much-acclaimed Glasstresss.

Noemi Niederhauser is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is a ceramist, designer, mycologist, visual artist, curator, and the co-founder of the artist-run space A-DASH in Athens, GR. She holds an MFA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins, London, UK (2014) and previously studied ceramic design at the Applied Art School of Vevey, CH (2010). She is currently a Studio Director, at ALICE Lab: Architecture Department, EPFL, Lausanne (CH), and a ceramic design teacher at SFGB-B, Bern (CH). She is a 2017-2019-2021 recipient of Pro Helvetia Research Grants and Awards.

Koen Vanmechelen works across a multitude of disciplines, situating his practice at the confluence of art, science, philosophy and community.

As an eternal migrant, he travels the world looking for answers to fundamental questions that touch on issues which are both timeless and acutely relevant today: identity, diversity, globalisation and human rights. He weaves those answers – always works in progress – into enigmatic artworks and projects. His quests and interdisciplinary projects invite other migrants to work together and create an awareness and a movement of communities around the world. Together, they reflect on the global legacy of the human animal and explore the different ways we choose to live and evolve together.

Francesco Mazzarella is a Research Fellow in Fashion and Design for Social Change at Centre for Sustainable Fashion (a University of the Arts London research centre), exploring ways in which design activism can create counter-narratives towards sustainability in fashion. Previously, Francesco was AHRC Design Leadership Fellow Research Associate at Imagination, Lancaster University, with the aim to support design research for change. Francesco was awarded a PhD from Loughborough Design School, funded by the AHRC Design Star CDT; his doctoral research project explored how service design can be used to activate textile artisan communities to transition towards a sustainable future.

Harriette Meynell is a multi-disciplinary artist working with sound, installation, drawing, photography and printmaking.  The sound and feel of place and space are important.  Often working with local residents, she explores the politics of walking, public seating, boundaries and gentrification.  Recording, measuring and analysing thresholds as places of transition and sites of potential conflict. During lockdown, the site for work has, out of necessity, become housebound.  Routine and repeated tasks map out a familiar suburban schedule: a juggling act of paid work, mothering, teaching, daily walking, cleaning, cooking.  Recent work represents the home as boundary mixed with feelings of lethargy and claustrophobia.

Nicole Zisman is a fashion and digital designer. Zisman's work addresses the complexity of stratified Jewish identity in the West and the political consequences of visual assimilation through print and image. Zisman seeks to challenge the notion of a fixed truth that ‘seeing is knowing,' that perception of a body in culture equals the real.

Zisman completed her BA in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins in 2019 and since, her work has discussed and featured in the likes of Dazed, LOVE Magazine, Vogue Italia, Teen Vogue, Tatler, King Kong Garçon, Schon! Magazine and ODDA Magazine.