skip to main content
Sandwich board

Reporting back on the Art for the Environment Pop Up Common Room

Written by Postgraduate Community
Published date 21 March 2018
By Naira Mushtaq, PG Community Ambassador for
Central Saint Martins studying MA Fine Art

The day that started out as a beautiful warm and sunny later shifting into a grey and overcast one with a hailstorm which couldn’t possibly have been more fitting background for the evening of the UAL Postgraduate Community Pop up Common Room event at the Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts.

The exhibition Art for the Environment curated by UAL Centre for Sustainable Fashion‘s  Camilla Palestra, brings together works of six artists (and UAL postgraduate alumni) whose practices explore human impact on our environment.

The UAL Art for the Environment International Residency Programme (AER) was Established in 2015, by UAL Professor for Art for the Environment Lucy Orta, the aim of the program is to provide valuable space and time to emerging artists to engage and explore themes of environment and our relationship with nature.

This exhibition Art for Environment presented a selection of work curated from past AER residencies, including film, sound and interactive installation. The event included the tour of the show by Camilla Palestra amongst the attendees were two of the participating artists Magz Hall and Nana Maiolini, along with the current resident Clemence Hemard-Hermitant and the AER 2018 recipient Helen Cawley.

Camilla Palestra talking about AER program

Annabel Duggleby’s piece titled EX-NIHILO is the first piece the viewer is confronted with as the enter the gallery space, the work comprises of a video installation that combines found and original footage along with text and sound the piece has another component of real plants and wooden constructions inspired by inspired by the garden in the gallery during her AER Residency at Hauser &Wirth Somerset.

Annabel explores the notions of objectification and commodification of nature the video looks at the history of Victorian plant hunters and the role of Britain’s colonial past and the most recent history of seed patenting by large agriculture companies.

Annabel Duggleby EX-NIHILO

Magz Hall’s Dream space 2 is a radiophonic installation, a wooden structure in the shape of a hut stands in the middle of the gallery space, upon entering the structure you are greeted by an intimate interior within the space is a soundscape of nature along with dreams of visitors at her AER Residency in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park around the themes of the elements of nature. Hall is a sound and radio artist who explores the artistic potential of radio and its uses outside of conventional settings.

Magz Hall’s Dream space 2

Like Hall, Matt Parker’s work also deals with technology and environment and the points of intersection. His piece titled Electrostatic Borderlands is featured in the exhibit the audio piece records the natural sound that is disturbed by the electronic interference of a phone searching for a signal Parker recorded this experienced during his AER Residency at Joya: arte+ecologia in Spain. While it may not be the artists’ intention to talk about the undertones of human desire to connect when faced isolation the piece is dystopian and melancholic.

Nana Maiolini’s piece Steal Life is a multichannel video installation with sound the two screens in the corner of the gallery, Nana’s works explores the non-consensual perceptions of territories which are obscured by hegemonic images, memories and discourses.

Nana Maiolini Steal Life

During her AER Residency at Joya: arte+ecologia she observed the process of desertification due to extreme temperatures and the effect of the temperature on the plants ,she describes them as frozen into sculptural forms. Nana took the plants to her studio and started to crush these sculptures to the point the objects lose their original form, the sound piece accompanying this act of destruction amplifies the fragility of the object-from being once lush and in bloom to carcasses when faced with the force of nature.

While describing the piece Nana says that the work is both as a protest against the unsustainable actives that lead to natural disasters and as an act resilience in the face of climate change and its impact.

The other Two artists featured in the show are Matteo Valerio and Noemi Niederhauser the works explore man’s relationship with commercial process and manufacturing.  Matteo carried out his AER Residency at Fondazione Zegna Italy and Noemi carried out her AER Residency at Fondazione Berengo in Murano, Venice Italy.

The introduction to all the works followed by a discussion in the café at Nunnery Gallery where artist and those in attendance discussed how art can contribute to our environment by not just finding sustainable ways of practice but actively talking about climate change.

The Art for the Environment (AER) International Residency Programme

The Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) was launched in 2015 by member of the UAL Research Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) and UAL Chair of Art and the Environment Professor Lucy Orta and coordinated by CSF Associate Curator Camilla Palestra.

New AER Residency opportunities are being added all of the time!  Applications accepted from UAL graduates, postgraduates and recent alumni (within 12 months from graduation date).

For further information please email

The AER Team:

Previous residency reports can be found here on the Postgraduate Community Blog

Find Out More

Pop Up Common Rooms

Join other UAL postgraduate students at a Pop Up Common Room.

These events can take the form of talks with industry specialists and guests, visits to artist studios and industry spaces, networking with other postgraduate students from other Colleges, students sharing outcomes of recent commissions and workshops /skill shares.

Visit our Previous Pop Up Event Archive to find out more about past events.

Pop Up Common Rooms are advertised on the UAL Events page and in the weekly Postgraduate Community newsletter which is sent out on Friday’s to all current student UAL email addresses.

Find Out More