Greenhouse Britain: Losing ground, gaining wisdom
Estimates of the predicted rise in sea levels this century due to the effect of climate change on the earth’s ice caps range from one to five meters. In Britain, a rise of five meters would displace over 2 million people and flood 10,000 square kilometres of land.
Greenhouse Britain is a new exhibition by the eminent American ecological artists Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison and their British associates. This exhibition dramatically addresses the environmental, political and economic challenges of rising sea levels caused by climate change. The central feature will be a multimedia video projection onto a giant relief model of mainland Britain. We will see the waters gradually redraw the coastline.
The exhibition will tour across England from November 2007 to March 2008 including venues in Devon, London, Shrewsbury, Manchester, Bristol and Lancaster (see below for details). A rolling programme of events will coincide with the tour.
The Harrisons say: “Basically, the concept argues that the Greenhouse phenomenon is so urgent, so compelling in the near term, so potentially catastrophic in the long term, and so obviously destabilizing to the environment that we strongly believe the greenhouse discourse is vital and will benefit from the voice of culture. The core concept in Greenhouse Britain is a statement and a question. It is the guiding metaphor for this work‘The oceans will rise gracefully. Can we withdraw with equal grace?’“
Taking three key river watersheds, the Avon, the Mersey and the Lee in East London, the artists imagine the challenges of defending the land and withdrawing from the rising waters.
For nearly forty years, the Harrisons have been leaders in the ecological arts movement. Past projects have involved collaborative dialogues with politicians, scientists, planners and communities and focused on watershed restoration, urban renewal, agriculture, forestry and global warming. Their visionary works sometimes come into being, on the ground.
The research and production of Greenhouse Britain has been funded by DEFRA’s Climate Change Challenge Fund.
DEFRA’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) provides financial support for communications projects seeking to achieve positive changes in public attitudes about climate change. “We are interested in reaching new audiences and communities so the fund aims to support work at different levels - from national organisations to regional or local initiatives. “
The programme has also been funded and supported by a range of other agencies including Gunpowder Park’s Bright Sparks programme, Manchester Metropolitan University, The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and The University of Sheffield’s Landscape Department. The presentation of the exhibition at CCANW has been assisted by the Environment Agency.
Key partners include the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research; the Landscape Department at the University of Sheffield; MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University; the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at North Wyke, Devon; and greenmuseum.org.
Notes to Editors
Greenhouse Britain has been produced as an artist-led project by Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison, principals of the Harrison Studio & Associates (Britain). David Haley, Research Fellow and Course Leader, Art as Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University is an Associate Artist. Gabriel Harrison, of Westergaard & Harrison Design, is the exhibition designer.
Greenhouse Britain will tour to:
Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World
Saturday 17 November 2007 - Sunday 23 December 2007
Haldon Forest Park
Exeter EX6 7XR
T: 01392 832277
Elements of the exhibition will also be shown at the
London Wildlife Trust annual conference
9 and 10 November 2007
London Development Agency’s Palestra Building
197 Blackfriars Road
T: 020 7593 8000
Darwin Festival, Shrewsbury Museums & Art Gallery
Friday 1 to Tuesday 27 February 2008
Rowley’s House, Barker Street
Shropshire SY1 1QH
T: 01743 361196
Holden Gallery, Manchester Metropolitan University
Thursday 14 February to Friday 14 March 2008
T: 0161 247 1705
Knowle West Media Centre
March 2008, precise dates to be confirmed
T: 0117 9030444
Storey Gallery, Lancaster - Inside Out Programme
Spring 2008, venue and precise dates to be confirmed