Beauty and the beholder.

Read, Simon (2010) Beauty and the beholder. In: Landscape and Beauty [arranged by Land/Water research group], 26/27 June 2008, Plymouth University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

About 3 years ago I decided that I would devote my energy to seeking ways in which I could combine accumulated knowledge gleaned from longstanding immersion in environmental debate that is becoming increasingly critical and my ongoing practice as an artist. The upshot of this is that I ceased work made in the studio for its own sake in order to explore collaborations on an interdisciplinary level through the academic network, ways in which I could affect the conversation with government on a local level by working directly with community organisations to respond to the unfolding estuary and shoreline strategies in an informed manner and lastly to seek out public commissions that might encapsulate these issues in one way or another. Why do this? Just as the visual arts community in the 18th and 19th centuries was responsible for articulating a cultural response to the socio-economic fait-accompli of the industrial and agricultural revolutions as the sublime and the picturesque in landscape; so now when we have reached the point that this formula is inadequate to the challenges of environmental change being faced by society, it is the duty of the cultural community to help foster a sense of personal responsibility and a deeper understanding of natural processes as a compliment to the facts and figures supplied by science. My wish was to place art and my particular knowledge at the service of a situation that is crucial to address. This has had both success and failure in ways that I would never have predicted, but the positive elements have been sufficient to confirm to me that there is something worth following. The long-term effect of the sublime and the picturesque movement in landscape painting of the 18th and 19h centuries has been to disenfranchise society from the land, its birthright, to the extent that our highly urbanised culture can only treat it as a leisure destination, where access is duly controlled. The traditional protection of beauty is not equal to the urgent need to foster a sense of responsibility and an informed understanding of natural processes that may well be about to change irrevocably.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > School of Art and Design > Art & Design
ID Code:4799
Deposited On:09 Apr 2010 09:09
Last Modified:06 Feb 2013 10:01

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