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Public Lecture: Rosamund Portus (UWE Bristol)

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Art and Ecology: Exploring Creative Responses to the Bee Decline

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As extinction crises become an increased focus of contemporary environmental conversations, creative projects that engage with stories of loss have emerged as a visible fixture of the cultural and creative landscape. This invites the question of what role creativity might play in shaping public action around extinction events. In answering this question, this lecture draws on research with creative practitioners who have produced bee- inspired creative works, marrying an exploration of creative outcome with that of creative intent. Through this examination, this lecture will explore how creative projects can simultaneously bear witness to extinction stories, pose challenging questions, engage an increased diversity of voice and experience in extinction narratives, and marry the telling of extinction stories with tangible action. This lecture will fundamentally argue that creative explorations are well-placed to engage in the world as forms of intervention, interrupting people’s relationship to extinction crises and serving as a catalyst for change.

Rosamund Portus is a research fellow at UWE Bristol, where she is working on a project examining young people’s agency in the climate crisis. Her recent PhD research considered the social and cultural dimensions of the ongoing loss of bees, with a particular focus on creative responses to the bee decline. Rosamund also works as an artist and has recently been selected to exhibit a project as part of the COP26 Reimagining Museums for Climate Action Exhibition in Glasgow.

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Organiser Summer School Art History

Organiser of Public Lecture: Rosamund Portus (UWE Bristol)

In recent years, the multifaceted role of the curator in museums, exhibition spaces, and cultural heritage sites has expanded significantly. Curators are expected to produce innovative scholarship, invent new fundraising formats, digitize collections, collaborate with artists, and engage with society in order to rethink the museum as a sustainable place for the future. They have also moved from traditional institutional contexts to include public spaces as a site of curation.

In 2021, our successful summer school series “The Knowledge of the Curator” centres on the increasing interest in curatorial projects that cross the boundaries between art and nature. Can artistic interventions forge meaningful relationships between humans and nature? What is the history of curating beyond museum walls? Can contemporary art enhance ecological awareness and local identities? What are the characteristics and challenges of ‘landscape-based’ curating and can the environment be curated at all?

Intended for art historians preparing for a career in museums, cultural institutions, or academia, as well as active professionals in those fields, this course is devoted to the knowledge, expertise, and skills required to meet the challenge of curating art and the environment.

Organized by the Department of History of Art, Architecture & Landscape.

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