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Brian Walker of US-based podcast Dreams Not Memes interviewed me this month about climate change and art.

Dreams Not Memes is a podcast curated by Brian Walker of A Day Without Love. The podcast is about going more in depth about the ins and outs of being an independent creator, collaborator, activist or entrepreneur. This podcast will include 1000 interviews from people around the world and their stories about navigating the struggles associated with finding your own vision.

Check it out on Spotify here. Subscribe here.

Thank you for having me!


It’s that time to review another pandemic year that came and went in the blink of an eye. Here is how my 2021 rolled:

I became part of TeamHB6 of Homeward Bound and am on this amazing leadership journey with women in STEMM, with some fun highlights such as being a jury at Kids Care about Climate Change. I became a Creative Peacebuilder for The Peace Studio and as part of a collaboration, I was part of the teaching team at LunART Summer Arts Camp in Madison, Wisconsin.

I did my hybrid art residency at Sydney Observatory, focusing on Mars in relation to my PhD research.

I wrote a chapter in Communicating in the Anthropocene: Intimate Relations, was featured in E-Squared Magazine, wrote a post for the #Healing edition of The New Alphabet at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and designed the book cover for the Handbook on Migration with one of my photographs from my 2016 art residency at Plan International.

I spoke at/was interviewed by Climate Designers, Occupational Hazards, Our Entangled Future at University of Oslo, Transformations Community, IECA, AusSTS, ASLE, ICAS, 4S Toronto, SLSA, and Culture2.

I exhibited at Memoirs of the Abyss at SixtyEight Art Institute Copenhagen curated by Malou Solfjeld, and thanks to them Arctic Ice Chess has been played at Copenhagen and Aarhus. 

I exhibited at Multispecies Visionary Institute in Berwick and did a related workshop at Baltic Center for Contemporary Art in Newcastle (UK).

I’m a recipient of the 13 Artists Awards in the Philippines this year. 

I have a piece for  “The Future We Want”, a digital art campaign by C40 Cities, a global network for mayors taking urgent action to confront the climate crisis.

Finally, I have taken up the great pandemic hobbies of piano, kayaking, and sailing. Also, no more hair, hurray!

For all the curators, artists, scientists, teachers, makers, peacebuilders, technicians, sailors, delivery people and others who helped to push all this work forward in these challenging times, thank you very much! Being productive and healthy in a pandemic is a gift and I hope to be better next year. Here’s to a healing 2022!

Last Friday, the second game of Arctic Ice Chess was played at the Danish School of Education, University of Århus. The game was between Jonas Andreas Lysgaard, Associate Professor at University of Århus, and Keith Brander, lead author for the fisheries and marine ecosystem sections of the fourth IPCC report, for which he and his team were awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. I watched the video from Sydney and received comments from the indefatigable and amazing Malou Solfjeld.

From Malou:

Jonas had a helping hand from his colleague Flemming, who gave him chess advice and contributed to the overall conversation. It was interesting to see the two of them work together, especially for tactile reasons, since Flemming is almost blind, so he had to feel the ice and the board in a perhaps even more intense way than the usual players do.

Keith came to Denmark in 1996 to work as Dr. Emeritus at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources, section for Oceans and Arctic, until he retired in 2012. Last year he obtained citizenship and he is now member of the pan-European political party VOLT.

Arctic Ice Chess game 2 was organized by Malou Solfjeld, Malou Juelskjær and SixtyEight Art Institute

Result: Keith won partly because his breath heated up his pieces and made them slide forward by themselves.


I watched the game here from Sydney as I cast another batch of bushfire ash heart sculptures which made their conversation on the climate emergency even more meaningful. Highlights of the game included the discussion about our finite planet, custodianship and sustainability of land, and how we cannot change opinions but rather behavior.

How fitting that this happened in the middle of #COP26, and how happy am I that this project is catalyzing so many wonderful conversations and connecting so many people from this project’s initial sketches in Manila, Beijing, Vienna, and Sydney. Hope you enjoyed playing and thank you all very much!

Images by Malou Solfjeld

I’ll be co-facilitating a workshop at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in the UK with Sabina Sallis, with her in Newcastle in the centre and me here in Sydney. Register here: https://baltic.art/whats-on/exhibitions/the-feminist-school-of-painting

#multispeciesvisionaryinstitute
#sabinasallis #catherinesarahyoung
#BurnedLines

— 

Text via @balticgateshead

Session 8: Reciprocal Respiration (RR) with Sabina Sallis and Catherine Sarah Young of Multispecies Visionary Institute

Saturday 6 November 13.00-15.00

FREE, Booking essential

Sabina Sallis will be running three workshops during the Feminist School of Painting continuing the ongoing activities of the Multispecies Visionary Institute (MVI). MVI is a project that seeks to explore how creative and ecological practices can be combined to generate collective visions for flourishing futures.

The Latin root of the word inspiration, ‘inspirare’, means ‘to breathe into’. In these workshops, you are invited to consider breathing as an act of exchange with the more-than-human-world and explore the creative act of ‘breathing life’ into something.

Sabina will introduce present elements of her research into aesthetics of sustainability and sustainable land practices. Catherine Sarah Young will introduce her research and works in relation to the Australian bushfire crisis and Climate Change and invite participants to make their own ink. This will be followed by a choice of practical activity interweaved with breath exercises: either botanical ink making, free flow drawing, or the opportunity to colour-in drawings from the MVI collection of ‘the Swarms’.

Update: This was so much fun, thank you for having us!

It was a special afternoon for me today as I spoke with some winners of the Kids Care About Climate Change 2021 art contest.

with Shivom and his dad

First up is Shivom from Singapore, who is 7 (AND A HALF!). His poster talks about the importance of saving trees.

artwork by Shivom O.

“If you treat a tree good, they will treat you good. They will give you more oxygen paper, fruits and medicines. Plant more tree so we can live happily. Do not pluck the leaves from the plants and let the greenery grow.” We also showed each other our plush animals.

My second meetup today is with Shaurya from Singapore, who won a People’s Choice Award. He drew something that you all know resonates strongly with me.

with Shaurya and his dad

His artwork is entitled “Heart:Body = Tree:Earth”. He says, “If you want to breathe, SAVE the trees, so that the next generation can get oxygen for free. Have you realized, HEART and EARTH are spelled with the same letters? Take care of both, before it’s too late.” Shaurya just turned 10 and wants to be a pilot and artist. (Hey, me too!) He solved a Rubik’s cube while we talked.

Artwork by Shaurya K.

I know you kids won me, but I feel that I won you. ❤

Kids Care About Climate Change 2021 is a project by fellow #TeamHB members Marji Puotinen and Colleen Filippa, and the resulting banner with all the artworks will be showcased in COP26 UN Climate Conference by Scottish Greens Senator Lorna Slater. Congratulations for receiving 2629 entries from 33 nations and 213 schools! Winners win a Zoom with the jury members, one of whom is yours truly.

http://www.kidscareaboutclimate.org

(Madison, Wisconsin)—Last week, we wrapped up LunART Summer Arts Camp 2021! This was one of the most fun things I have done this year, and I’m really happy to have contributed a bit from all the way here in Sydney. LunART supports, inspires, promotes, and celebrates women in the arts through public performances, exhibitions, workshops, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The camp was held at Goodman Community Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and I taught remotely. 

During the camp, the four of us worked in rotating teams of two so that the two remote teachers (Me and Maya) worked with those in Madison (Midori and Satoko). Each week, we had tons of short and fun activities built around key words such as Hello, Ground, Connect, Rest, Build, Community, Communicate, and Share. We used various mediums, such as music, poetry, scent, sculpture, gardening, and others. 

(My favourite activity was a synesthesia exercise where we asked participants to sniff some mystery scents and to color and/or draw what they saw):

This is hands down one of my most favorite and meaningful events this year, and in light of lockdowns and disasters around the world where I sometimes wake up in despair and frustration, I am grateful to have been useful for a time and to have been part of a pioneering initiative where remote teams will increasingly work together in the future.

As well, I’m so happy to have worked with old and new friends, fellow Creative Peacebuilders for The Peace Studio Midori Samson and Maya Williams, and ace pianist Satoko Hayami . After all these weeks, I am going to miss you and the camp participants putting me to bed on a very late Tuesday night. Thank you LuNART and Goodman Center for hosting us, and to Midori for reaching out! 

Images courtesy of Midori Samson, LuNART, and Goodman Center

Find out more about the LuNART Summer Camp 2021 here.

Culture², a Toronto-based organization, is hosting their first online conference on community science, creative biology, and ancestral knowledge this Aug 28 + 29, 2021. I’m excited to be one of their speakers. Get your ticket here and see you there! 

This August 28th + 29th, 2021 we invite you to join us for our first conference where farmers, community activists, climate educators, artists, and practitioners will be sharing their wisdom in relation to the pillars of community science, creative biology, and ancestral knowledge.

Image: Culture²

Update: Video up on Vimeo here.

Thank you for having me!

I’m really happy to have contributed an essay to the #Healing edition of the New Alphabet School of one of my favorite cultural institutions, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. I collaborated with colleagues I met during (Un-)Learning Place in 2019 in Berlin, which kicked off HKW’s long-term project The New Alphabet. 

The Healing edition in Dakar and Berlin focuses on afro-diasporic spiritual or folk healing practices, lay movements for recovery to generate ideas and media that may have transformative potential. My essay involves my current research and art practice around petrichor (the scent of wet earth when it rains) and how it brought me to Australia. Dankeschön to Olga Schubert, Elisabeth Krämer, Alessandra Pomarico, Esther Poppe, and Maya V. El Zanaty.

It’s a gift to still be able to contribute despite these lockdowns; sending you all a hello from Sydney!

Read the essay here.

(Paris and digital) I’m happy to contribute a heart to C40 Cities for their digital campaign, A Letter to Nature. C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.

The Weighing of the Heart is a sculptural series where I cast human heart sculptures out of the ashes of The Australian bushfires. I’ve been doing this since 2020 after the 2019-2020 Black Summer.

C40 support cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge, and drive meaningful, measurable, and sustainable action on climate change.

From C40:

C40 has teamed up with a collective of incredible artists who have unique visions of the world they want to live in. Their art challenges us to imagine a future where people and biodiversity thrive, and cities are more resilient and equitable.

C40 has teamed up with a collective of incredible artists who have unique visions of the world they want to live in. Their art challenges us to imagine a future where people and biodiversity thrive, and cities are more resilient and equitable.

The third artist in this series is Catherine Sarah Young. Catherine’s piece ‘The Weighing of the Heart’ casts ashes from the devastating Australian wildfires of 2020 into a heart-shaped sculpture. This video features the sculpture on a background of illustrations by Catherine, that represent hope and recovery.

Catherine said: “The casting of the ashes allowed for the creation of permanent sculptures and removes them from the processes in their landscapes, resulting in art that registers the effects of climate change.

“In this image, the sculptures are made from matter in a real-world catastrophe, but the illustrations arise from my imagination and stems from hope that we can rise above this and repair our relationship with the planet.” 

About the artist: Catherine Sarah Young uses her background in molecular biology and collaborations with scientists to produce innovative, interdisciplinary and experimental artworks that explore our natural world and environment.

I’m really honored to have contributed the cover image to this important book on migration and global justice co-edited by my friend Prof. Claudia Tazreiter! I took this image in 2017 as artist-in-residence of Plan International, where I visited youth in Lewoleba in Indonesia; Chiang-Mai in Thailand, and Tacloban in the Philippines. In Tacloban, a local tricycle driver took me around the city to witness the aftermath of Supertyphoon Haiyan that devastated Tacloban in 2013. The image shows a fishing vessel that had run aground Philippine soil during Haiyan.

 Working with children and youth who were affected by the climate emergency was one of the most impactful and humbling times of my artistic practice, and I am still grateful to Plan for the opportunity to co-create artworks on climate with them. 

The residency was facilitated by Plan International’s offices in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines as well as the International Climate Initiative (IKI) based in Berlin. More on the residency outcomes here: https://www.international-climate-initiative.com/en/news/article/interview_to_know_the_colour_of_water/

The Handbook of Migration and Global Justice is published by Elgar Handbooks and is edited by Dr. Leanne Weber, Professor of Criminology, University of Canberra, Australia and Dr. Claudia Tazreiter, Professor in Ethnic and Migration Studies, Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society, Linköping University, Sweden. This timely Handbook brings together leading international scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and geopolitical perspectives to interrogate the intersections between #migration and global #justice. It explores how cross-border mobility and migration have been affected by rapid economic, cultural and technological globalisation, addressing the pressing questions of global justice that arise as governments respond to unprecedented levels of global migration. Available here: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/handbook-of-migration-and-global-justice-9781789905656.html