£25 – £29.50

Fragile Nature, an Art and Ecology Study Day

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Marriott's Warehouse

South Quay

King's Lynn

PE30 5DT

United Kingdom

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Event description


What can art do in the face of escalating
climate change?
Stimulated by two ground-breaking exhibitions, a panel of internationally renowned artists, curators, ecologists, writers and activists will explore ethical & creative questions around the ways we can respond creatively to our current urgent environmental issues.

On the occasion of:
‘Fragile Nature - from control to freedom’
29 June - 15 September at GroundWork Gallery and
‘‘Destroy and you Create: Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn ’
29 June -3 August at the Fermoy Gallery, for the King’s Lynn Festival

Two concurrent exhibitions give an opportunity to explore contemporary ideas about fragile ecology, and the plight of nature. Taking a lead from the example of radical artist Gustav Metzger (1926-2017), we consider what are the options for thinking about destruction as also offering some hope for renewal?

The four women artists of different generations who feature in GroundWork’s Fragile Nature exhibition offer complementary and contrasting perspectives, political and artistic. We will consider the role of women and feminism in the artistic environment and the fate of land art, experimentation, performance,.

Metzger saw the relationship between destruction and creation as a creative catalyst and a metaphor for revolution and renewal. Can we share his optimism in the face of accelerating climate change?

A group of internationally renowned speakers have been invited to contribute wider perspectives from art and ecology. This event will bring together practitioners in the arts, activism and environmental science to consider how we think about our relationship to nature, resources, and resilience, in this time of environmental crisis.

Jeremy Purseglove - ‘Working with Nature’ author, scientist, engineer
Lotte Scott, exhibiting artist
Elspeth Owen, ceramicist- exhibiting artist
Adam Hogarth - artist, etching fellow Royal Academy
John Fanshawe, Cambridge Conservation Initiative & Birdlife International;
Andrew Watkinson, Emeritus professor biological and environmental science, UEA

Charlie Gardner, scientist, Extinction Rebellion

Amy Cutler, artist, writer, film maker
Lizzie Fisher, curator of Destroy, and you create…Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn;
Veronica Sekules, Director GroundWork Gallery

Draft Timings study day 18 July

10.00 - 11.00 Arrival, coffee

11.00 - 11.10 Opening remarks, Veronica Sekules

11.10 - 11.40 Elizabeth Fisher on Metzger

11.40 - 12.20 Jeremy Purseglove on Working with Nature

12.20 - 12.45 Elspeth Owen

12.45 - 1.00 discussion

1.00 - 1,45 lunch

1.45 - 2.00 Opening Remarks, Charlie Gardner

2.00 - 2.30 John Fanshawe

2.30 - 3.00 Lotte Scott

3.00 - 3.15 break

3.15 - 3.45 Adam Hogarth

3.45 - 4.15 Amy Cutler

4.15 - 5.00 Panel - chaired by Andrew Watkinson

Further details:

King’s Lynn Festival exhibition
The 2019 Festival exhibition ‘Destroy, and you create…Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn’ celebrates the early work of pioneering artist and activist Gustav Metzger, who lived in King’s Lynn between 1953-60. Known for his passionate lifelong commitment to environmental campaigning, from his involvement with the Radical Science movement in the 1970s to the ‘Extinction Marathon’ he co-programmed with Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine Galleries in 2014, Metzger was relentless in calling on others, particularly in the art, architecture and design worlds, to take a stand against the ongoing erasure of species.

He lived through the beginnings of the environmental protest movement and seen from the contemporary predicament of climate change and protest movements like Extinction Rebellion, his words were quite prophetic:
As artists, he wrote, ‘It is our privilege and our duty to be at the forefront of the struggle. There is no choice but to follow the path of ethics into aesthetics. We live in societies suffocating in waste. Our task is to remind people of the richness and complexity in nature; to protect nature as far as we can and by doing so art will enter new territories that are inherently creative, that are primarily for the good of the universe.’

GroundWork Gallery
Fragile Nature: from control to freedom
Four artists form the core of this exhibition.
Paca Sanchez’s work forms the nucleus of this show. She is a modernist with plants, making precise and controlled art from formal arrangements of leaves, seeds, flowers, stems, twigs. She orders and composes nature from her southern French studio, carefully selecting from her vast collection of dried specimens, but allowing the properties of the plants to dictate their form in the images.
Showing alongside her Lotte Scott’s work is in complete contrast. She collaborates more freely with nature, using an endangered material like peat, but enabling it to take its own course. Lotte creates through risk, free forms from smoke, soil, lime and basketry; solid, burnt and evaporating elements which find their own way, whereby the material forms the work as much as the artist.
Elspeth Owen’s work comes deeply from her position as a feminist and member of many of the radical environmental movements, from CND in the 1960s, to Greenham Common in the 1980s, to Extinction Rebellion today. Her work, the thinnest egg-shell-like ceramics in painterly shades and effects of blue-green-violet-grey, is a paradox, appearing to be delicate and fragile, but actually having been produced through the violence of fire, and being very strong. She is often playful and performative, but underlying that is a consistent commitment to equality, justice and community, hence she will not engage in the art-world’s over-commercialism and celebrity heights, despite having been much sought after internationally to do so. Her work and life-experience raise many issues about feminism, radical politics, ritual, solitude and community.
From a much younger generation, Emma Howell, experiments with washes of thin colour to create almost abstract images of landscapes, moonscapes, patterns deriving from nature, aiming to form a deeper relationship with herself, nature and culture, in her recovery from grief following her father’s sudden and unexpected death. Out of adversity she has forged a strong artistic personality and way of life and her genuine struggle with the balance of emotion and creativity has made her something of a social media star internationally.


Elizabeth Fisher
Elizabeth Fisher is an independent curator and art historian. Previously, she was Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at Kettles Yard in Cambridge, where she organised the exhibition ‘Lift Off!’ with Gustav Metzger in 2014. She continued to work with the artist until his death. She has curated over 40 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, and written extensively on twentieth century and contemporary artistic practice. Recent publications include ‘On Not Knowing: How Artists Think’ (Black Dog, 2013) and ‘The Experimental Generation: networks of interdisciplinary practice in postwar British art, 1945-1970' (Interdisciplinary Science Reviews vol 42 issues 1 & 2, July 2017). She recently completed her PhD, ‘Kettle’s Yard: anti-museum’ at the University of Cambridge, and will take up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Northumbria University later this year to pursue her research project, ‘Negotiating Modernism: experimental/expanded arts practice in the rural North, 1945-1980.’

Jeremy Purseglove
Jeremy Purseglove was born in Africa and grew up in Singapore, Trinidad and Kent. Working as an environmentalist in the water industry, he helped pioneer a new approach to reducing floods which also preserved the beauty of rivers. This culminated in a TV series and influential book, Taming the Flood, first published in 1986 and revised in 2017. In 1989 he joined an engineering consultancy, where he worked around the world with engineers to promote practical development while enhancing wetlands, forests and flower-rich meadows.

Working with Nature
How do we work with nature rather than against it, both harvesting and conserving? The environmentalist Jeremy Purseglove shares a lifetime of experience.
From cocoa farming in Ghana to the orchards of Kent and the desert badlands of Pakistan, taking a practical approach to sustaining the landscape can mean the difference between prosperity and ruin. Working with Nature is the story of a lifetime of work, often in extreme environments, to harvest nature and protect it - in effect, gardening on a global scale. It is also a memoir of encounters with larger-than-life characters such as William Bunting, the gun-toting saviour of Yorkshire's peatlands and the aristocratic gardener Vita Sackville-West, examining their idiosyncratic approaches to conservation.

Jeremy Purseglove explains clearly and convincingly why it's not a good idea to extract as many resources as possible, whether it's the demand for palm oil currently denuding the forests of Borneo, cottonfield irrigation draining the Aral Sea, or monocrops spreading across Britain. The pioneer of engineering projects to preserve nature and landscape, first in Britain and then around the world, he offers fresh insights and solutions at each step.

Elspeth Owen
I live and work in Grantchester near Cambridge - my workshop is the former village cricket pavilion. My most familiar material is clay and my ceramic work has been widely shown in Britain and in Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and USA.

A book about my pots, coming round again (1998), designed in collaboration with my nephew, Webster Wickham, contains essays which call my ceramic work ‘odd...yet enjoyable, exhilarating, and contemplative’ (Gillian Beer), ‘more anarchic and rougher’ (Tanya Harrod) and ‘a lyrical sabotage of the conventional’ (Edmund de Waal).
As a young woman I studied history at Oxford University and worked as an academic, a social worker and a teacher before I started going to pottery evening classes in the mid seventies. In place of an art school training I taught on the legendary Open University course Art and Environment. I have been a feminist since the time when it was called being a member of the Women's Liberation Movement and a peace protester since the Aldermarston Marches and Greenham Common.
Inspired in part by the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham, I have increasingly moved aside from making finished objects and into work where the passage of time, the live process, is a key element. (For more about this aspect of my work see imagined corners and material woman sections of the site.)

Tender, direct, resilient, with a thin skin: that is how I think my work may touch you. To sustain working in this way means my remaining open to the emotions and sensations of an ordinary life. I keep slipping between categories - life, art, therapy, play, ritual - and find that I’m usually in more than one at a time, and with something up my sleeve!

My work can be seen in the following Public collections:

Victoria and Albert Museum London Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge University of Wales at Aberystwyth Kunstmuseum Hamburg Germany Leeds City Art Gallery Cleveland Studio Pottery Collection Bolton City Art Gallery Buckinghamshire Museum Dean Clough Contemporary Art Halifax Hawkes Bay Museum New Zealand Deidesheim Ceramics Museum Germany Paisley Museum Aberdeen Art Gallery BA at Gatwick

John Fanshawe

John Fanshawe, John curates an arts, science, and conservation programme for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. After initially studying law, he went on to work in East Africa, completing a doctorate on coastal forest bird communities in Kenya after a stint researching lion and wild dog in the Serengeti. Since the early 1990s, has worked on development programmes, and as Head of Policy and Advocacy for BirdLife, and still leads a cross-cutting initiative on birds, culture and society. With Terry Stevenson, he is co-author of a Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa, and edited the diaries of JA Baker, author of The Peregrine in 2010. He has an MA in Art and Environment from University College Falmouth and, along with Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott, and Tim Birkhead, he is a founder member of the collective, New Networks for Nature.

Lotte Scott

As an artist I am interested in place, time and material. Since 2013 my work has focused on the peat moors of the Somerset Levels, exploring the indexical nature of peat as a living archive of land and people.

Working with photography, sculpture and drawing, I am interested in processes of transformation and preservation in the waterlogged, intensely managed landscape of the moors. This is a place that distills and suspends material from the deep past, where a wealth of prehistoric archaeology has been unearthed by centuries of peat cutting. Now with almost all the peat exhausted, nature reserves cover much of the moors, creating important wetland habitats and SSIs; this post industrial landscape has been reimagined, peat forming environments reinstated to reflect its ancient past.


Lotte Scott was born in London in 1990 and grew up in Somerset. She studied BA Art Practice at Goldsmiths University and MFA Sculpture at the Slade School of Art. She now lives in Frome.

Since completing her Masters in 2017, Lotte has taken part in a residency at the Sidney Nolan Trust and been selected for group exhibitions such as Lexis Over Land at the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens Gallery, Penzance and Liquid Land at the Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge. In March 2018 her first solo show, The Fields are Seas, was exhibited at OUTPOST gallery in Norwich.

Amy Cutler
“I've been thinking a lot recently about termite art and destructive/renewal practices, particularly in a world where we are so used to thinking now in the time-lapses of utopia or dystopia... I like that suggestion by China Mieville in 'The Limits of Utopia' when he talks instead about the fragile ecologies of "apocatopia"... so these themes sound really interesting to me, in terms of reduced resources / resilience and transformation...The Fragile Nature exhibition offers some really interesting crossovers - in terms of the use of the elemental, transformation, but also the connection between the personal and global scales of loss and the auto-creative.”

Amy is an artist, cultural geographer, curator, writer, and film-maker who works with ideas of geography and nonhuman others. In her career in the GeoHumanities she has completed a PhD, a post-doc, and an ECR fellowship, and during this time she has exhibited her work or run live events with organisations including the BBC, Somerset House, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sheffield Institute of Arts, the Wellcome Trust, the Horniman Museum, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Late Junction, Tate Modern, the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Horse Hospital, the Natural History Museum, and Kew Museum of Economic Botany. Her geography training impacts her work as an artist, performer, and curator, and she works frequently on the production of immersive and live cinema and exhibition events provoking and changing the public conversation around ideas of space, geography, and nature-cultures. She currently lectures in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Amy runs the Live Cinema UK commissioned internationally touring show NATURE’S NICKELODEONS, which investigates the production of concepts of nature through social screening practices, from the proto-cinematic (live specimen projection) to contemporary nature doc re-scoring. This has been profiled by medium.com for “leading the field” in the international renaissance of live cinema as a progressive, investigative art form. She is an executive committee member for the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, ran the White Rose project Hearts of Oak: Caring for British Woodlands, founded the cultural geography cinema PASSENGERFILMS, and has twice won the top annual award from the national organisation Cinema For All for innovative educational cinema programming.
Amy has recently completed a Leverhulme Research fellowship considering the ethical, political, philosophical, and ecological implications of the question 'what is a forest?'. Ranging from the analysis of 17th century dictionaries to contemporary science fiction cinema, this research follows the long line of "semantic horror" in the woods, beginning with Dante: 'Ah me, how hard a thing it was to say / What was this forest savage'. This is not just about the conflicts and contradictions in the ways in which we have defined the forest, but also the ways in which it might be redefined, whether in speculative fiction or in contemporary cultural ecologies. See Leverhulme profile page here.

Dr. Charlie Gardner
I am a conservationist, researcher, writer and environmental activist. An ecologist by training, much of my career has been spent working with threatened species and ecosystems in tropical developing countries. Most recently I spent a decade in Madagascar, working with WWF and local rural communities to establish new protected areas, and helping traditional fisher communities to develop more sustainable fisheries. I now lecture in conservation at the University of Kent and am working on a popular book exploring and celebrating the modern conservation movement. Inspired by the Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike 4 Climate, I have recently returned to activism and founded a local Extinction Rebellion group in Kings Lynn.

Adam Hogarth
I am an artist currently living and working in London, currently etching fellow at the Royal Academy of Arts. I graduated from the Fine Art Printmaking department at the Royal College of Art with an MFA in 2013 and prior to that completed at Ba Hons in Fine Art at Northumbria University. Upon leaving the RCA I was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries and have shown work at the ICA, Spike Island (Bristol), Tate Britain, The William Morris Gallery, Rheged Centre (Penrith), The Dock Museum (Barrow in Furness), Arts Depot (London) and Wallington House (Northumberland).

I work part-time for Advanced Graphics London as a Printmaking technician. I have developed and refined my printmaking skills to a highly professional standard that I believe reflects in my own practice.
My work has theoretical links to the Auto-Destruction Art movement (founded by artists such as Gustav Metzger and Raphael Ortiz) and its relationship to language.
I believe that language is in a constant state of flux, destroying and reinventing itself over periods of time and I look to forms of ideoglossia (languages spoken by small groups) to inform my practice.
My work typically takes the form of video, drawing, sculpture, print and performance.

Andrew Watkinson
I am currently an Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences and a Non-Executive Director of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science where I chair the Science Advisory Committee.
My initial training was in Biology at the University of York, which was then followed by my Doctorate in plant population biology at the University College of North Wales, Bangor with Professor John Harper FRS. Following my appointment as a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia in 1975 my initial research career involved studies of population biology and its application to the fields of agriculture and forestry, conservation and climate change, but increasingly centred on interdisciplinary studies of the effects of climate change. I was one of the founding members of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research where I led the coastal programme and was also one of the lead authors of the UK Government Foresight Report on Future Flooding. I was presented with the Marsh Award by the British Ecological Society for my contribution to ecology in 2003.
In 2007 I became Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which was then followed by a five year secondment to NERC as Director of the Living With Environmental Change Partnership. This joint initiative represented an unprecedented collaboration between the Research Councils, Government Departments, Devolved Administrations and Delivery Agencies to ensure that the UK provided international leadership and solutions to the challenges of environmental change. It involved working at the interface of research, policy, business and delivery across all of the research disciplines. Through co-design, co-production and co-delivery LWEC aimed to provide decision makers with the foresight, knowledge and tools to mitigate, adapt to and benefit from environmental change.
My involvement with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Living With Environmental Change led to a growing interest in global environmental issues, science communication and science policy. The latter has involved a range of Research Council and Government advisory boards and I have recently worked with the British Ecological Society, the British Trust for Ornithology, DEFRA, the Environment Agency and Forest Research.
I have over 230 research publications and edited the Journal of Applied Ecology from 1995 to 2001.
1969 to 1972 University of York. BA (Hons) Biology. First Class
1972 to 1975 University College of North Wales, Bangor. PhD
1975 to 1990 Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia
1990 to 1995 Reader in the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia
1995 to 2005 Joint Professor in Ecology in the Schools of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
2005 to 2008 Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
2007 to 2008 Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
2008 to 2013 NERC. Director of Living With Environmental Change
2013 to 2015 Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
2015 to date Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
2015 to date Non Executive Director, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Veronica Sekules has a background working in environmentalism and art galleries and has a doctorate in art-history. She was employed for over 30 years as curator and then head of education and deputy director at the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia. She has worked freelance in education and heritage and joined with many national and international projects, currently as a judge for the International Children in Museums Award. She is a published author in art history (Medieval Art, OUP, 2001), cookery and education, most recently author of Cultures of the Countryside, Art, Museums, Heritage, Environment (Routledge 2018). She founded and runs GroundWork Gallery in King’s Lynn, Britain’s only contemporary gallery dedicated to the environment.


What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is a good hourly train service from London and Cambridge and the venue is a 10 minute walk from the station

There are options for buses from Norwich Central bus station: Excel and National Express take around 2 hours. The trains from Norwich go via Ely and take longer

Parking is best at Boal Quay long term car park, and costs less then £3.00 per day and is a 5 minute walk to the venue

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

e mail to mail@groundworkgallery.com, or phone 01553340714

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Refunds are possible up to a week before the event

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Marriott's Warehouse

South Quay

King's Lynn

PE30 5DT

United Kingdom

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Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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