It’s fair to say climate change is a gigantic issue that can sometimes overwhelm people struggling to understand its ramifications.
Extreme weather episodes range from record temperatures and swollen rivers in the UK to devastating earthquakes and typhoons in Asia.
There are prolonged droughts in Africa – hastened by the rapid melting of sea ice and glaciers. All have of these events have increased markedly and given a glimpse of what’s likely to come.
The artistic response
Inevitably, as the green agenda has come to figure more prominently in all our lives, artistic responses to the unfolding catastrophe around us have also grown.
One of these is making a timely appearance in Perthshire this summer in the shape of the calm-inducing Nature installation at Birnam Arts.
Among the highlights of the variform attraction is an appearance from the cheekily titled Bureau Of Linguistical Reality.
Comprising artists Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante, the quirky faux counselling service allows visitors to the Station Road venue to chat with the pair about the emotions being stirred in them by climate change and environmental pollution caused by human activity.
Given that Nature is being billed as “an exploration of the disembodied relationship and sense of separation we feel from the rest of nature”, it’s apt that in her biography California-raised Escott refers to herself with maximum parodical effect as “executive director of interspecies advancement”.
Learning how people cope
She says her artistic impetus stems from learning about how people negotiate their immediate day-to-day realities and responsibilities amid an awareness of the overarching spectre of climate change and mass extinction.
Escott’s polyglot partner Heidi Quante says the pair were inspired to create the thought-provoking Bureau in 2014, after increasingly finding themselves at a loss for words to describe their feelings in the face of rapid global changes due to social, political and environmental factors.
Sculpture, performance and sound
On a connected theme, the Birnam event also features work by Edinburgh-based Katherine Fay Allan, who produces installations that combine sculpture with performance and sound works.
All have the aim of encouraging discussions around the human condition as it relates to nature and technology.
Similarly, there’s a contribution from choreographer Simone Kenyon in the shape of a reprisal of her acclaimed Into The Mountain project, a visual exploration of people’s relationship with alpine territories with a particular focus on the Cairngorms.
Nature Library reading space
Another of Nature’s highlights is the inclusion of the Nature Library mobile reading space, which has been popping up at locations across Scotland – Covid restrictions permitting – since 2019.
Its choice materials have been carefully selected to encourage connections to land, sky and sea by engaging visitors in the complexities of the natural world via the written word.
Nature’s curator Kate Bell says the intention behind the exhibition is to remind people of their kinship with what she refers to as “the more than human” that surrounds us all.
“Nature is an exploration of the disembodied relationship and sense of separation we feel from the rest of nature,” she adds.
“It offers ways to reimagine our relationship with nature, not as a separate space but as parts of one ecosystem.”
- Nature is open daily until August 28 from 10am to 4pm and admission is free.