Sunday, 6 December 2009

Arts in Transition Conference, 2 December 2009

Tomorrow is day one of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.  Like others around the world I am crossing my fingers that the conference will result in a treaty appropriate to the danger level we are facing.

Of course we all know that crossing our fingers won’t do much, and that’s why we can be grateful for organisations like Centre for Alternative Technology, located here in mid-Wales.  The Centre was founded in the the mid-seventies as a reaction to the fuel shortages of the time, and these days the staff continue to track climate change science, while working to spread the word about how policy and individual behaviour may need to shift in the coming years.

To this end, the creative minds at C.A.T. are always finding new ways to engage the local community, a recent success being the “Arts in Transition” conference, held December 2nd in a wing of the new education building.  In my capacity as a songwriter, I was pleased to be among the local artists invited to hear a series of short presentations by C.A.T. staff, with plenty of time in the schedule to discuss the issues with the specialists, and with the artists in attendance.

BBC-commissioned radio playwright Sarah Woods facilitated the meetings, beginning with an acknowledgment of the difficulty artists face in forging a path between “finger-wagging and the hippie viewpoint,” when trying to portray relevant modern issues.

Long-term staff member Tanya Hawkes pointed out that in Wales sustainability is an integral part of politics, more than in the rest of the UK.  There is also the encouraging fact that other countries such as Norway, Iceland and Costa Rica have been making ambitious pacts amongst themselves, thereby getting a head start on the global treaty process.  So all is not doom and gloom!

Although I was only able to attend the morning session, I was stimulated the event, and by the presence of so many motivated local artists.  As far as I could tell it was quite theatrical bunch, but there were also a number of visual artists, many of whose work I had previously enjoyed. 

Some of my favorites:

Pippa Taylor, wood sculptor

Meri Wells, ceramic sculptor

Caitlin Shepherd, illustrator and textile designer

 Local film-maker Pete Telford covered the conference, and has posted an article on his Culture Colony website with photos and details of the presentations.

 Thanks to C.A.T. for an inspiring few hours; I have great hopes for the ability of artists to draw climate change into our collective conscience.  Now lets cross our fingers for Copenhagen. . .