Creative Engagements for Sustainability: Art, Writing and Imagination

27 November 2013, 9.30 AM - 27 November 2013, 9.30 AM

University of Bristol

We are rapidly reaching a point of no return in terms of climate change while environmental degradation continues apace. Yet we appear paralysed to effect meaningful change to address these ecological crises. It is thus becoming increasingly apparent that current forms of persuasion such as making a logical, scientific case or seeking to persuade business and government of an economic argument have not and will not change the ways we think about and interact with nature. A paradigm shift in mindsets to reclaim and reinvigorate the concept of nature is needed that involves personal, affective relationships with the natural environment. Creative engagements offer a means to do that.

These exciting and innovative workshops are therefore very timely in that they offer a direct experience of creatively engaging with issues around sustainability. They are open to doctoral students, established academics, and anyone interested in issues around sustainability in their professional or personal lives. The day will be divided into two sessions:

  • A morning writing workshop led by Susan Richardson where you will be encouraged to engage with environmental concerns and the natural world through poetry in an imaginative and dynamic way. This session will start at 9.30 am. Participants will need to wear weather-appropriate clothing/walking shoes, as some of the workshop will be spent out of doors. Places are strictly limited to 15.
  • An afternoon participative discussion with Susan Richardson, Neville Gabie and Peter Reason, all artists and writers who make creative engagements with nature central to their practice. Each will present and discuss their work. Then presenters and participants will tackle questions as to how such creative engagements can be mobilised to bring about the changes required for a more sustainable life. This session will start with lunch at 12.30. Places are strictly limited to 25.


The two sessions are designed to be stand-alone, so you are more than welcome to sign up for either – or both.

The workshops will be held at the University of Bristol, exact venue to be advised. They are free of charge to participants and refreshments, including lunch, will be provided for attendees at both sessions.

To reserve your place, or for more information, please contact Mary Phillips at


Susan Richardson is a poet, performer and educator specialising in environmental, wildlife and conservation themes. Her first collection of poetry, Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, was inspired by her journey through Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, and one of the themes is the impact of climate change on the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Her latest collection, Where the Air is Rarefied, is a collaboration with visual artist Pat Gregory, while her new collection, focusing on human-animal metamorphosis and our dys/functional relationship with the wild, will be published in 2015.

Susan has been a resident poet both on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and for BBC 2’s coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show. Over the past sixteen years, she has run Wild Writing Workshops at Universities, schools and for a wide range of events and organisations including WWF, Friends of the Earth, the Dark Mountain Project and the Fort William Mountain Festival. For further information, please see

For the last year Neville Gabie has been Artist in Residence with the Cabot Institute at Bristol University. Having previously spent four months in Antarctica (with the British Antarctic Survey) and worked on projects in Western Australia and Greenland, much of his work revolves around a concern for vulnerable landscapes where climate and human pressure can be seen and felt.

Neville has established a national and international reputation for his work. Projects include: The Greatest Distance Danielle Arnaud Gallery 2013, Cabot Institute Bristol University Artist in Residence 2012/2013, Olympic Delivery Authority Artist in residence on the Olympic Park 2010/2012, British Antarctic Survey – Artist in residence, Antarctica, 2008/2009 BS1 (co-curator and artist) Bristol 2006 – 2009, Up in the Air (co-curator and arist) Liverpool 1999/2005 , IASKA Western Australia 2005/2006, Vitamincreativespace Guangzhou, China 2004, MOMART Artist in Residence, Tate Liverpool 1999/2000, POSTS Published Penguin Books 1999. Neville is currently working with the Cabot Institute, Bristol University, developing a film in the Western Highlands commissioned by IOTA and working with MAP Projects, South Africa on a future exhibition. His work is included in the Tate Gallery and Arts Council Collections. See for further information.

Peter Reason is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bath and visiting Professor at ARCIO. Before he retired in 2009 his academic work contributed to the theory and practice of action research, and teaching and research about sustainability. Post-retirement he has focused on eco-literature, ‘nature writing for an ecology in crisis,’ drawing in particular on his experience of the sea through sailing. He has published articles and reviews in Resurgence and elsewhere; blogs at; and completed a book The Call of the Running Tide. His major concern has been with the devastating and unsustainable impact of human activities on the biosphere. He believes any significant change toward sustainability requires a fundamental shift in our sense of who we humans are in relation to the planet that sustains us. He is seeking to explore and articulate how we might create an in-depth and almost taken-for-granted experience of ourselves as participants in the fabric and process of the planet

This event has been organised by ARCIO, the Research Centre for Action Research and Critical Inquiry in Organisations.

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