In the Vernacular: Artistic Responses to Climate Change by Jo Turney PDF  | Print |  E-mail


Diane Gonthier : "Learning to Care" - Canada, 

The primary concern of our age is for the future of the planet; as climate change instigates natural disaster on an increasing and global scale, ice bergs melt, land floods, rivers run dry, species are lost and forests destroyed. Hurricanes and earthquakes wreak devistation, whilst millions are left homeless and hungry. Amidst this ‘natural’ chaos, one can see the work of the human hand; a desire for personal wealth, progress and wanton consumerism, which has allowed synthetic fibres to spill uncontrollably from land-fill sites, and notions of the local dissappear at the hands of a standardised globalised sense of identity, brought to us by a few multi-national corporations.

The healthy survival of the human race is reliant on sustaining the world in which we live, and to do this we must redress the way in which we understand, respond to, act within and negotiate our environment. This theme is central to Climate is Changing! an exhibition of felt art textiles which demonstrates an international concern to remedy the destruction of the human hand, by revalorising the significant of the individual within the global community; how one person, or indeed a group, can instigate change and make a difference. These issues formulate the key themes of the exhibition: responsibility, loss and memory, and, destruction and regeneration, each of which are presented as representational or metaphorical, encapsulating primary concerns through the medium of felt.

The political discussion and ensewing implications of the global climate change debate exercise a fundamental starting point for exhibitors, who address the problems of standardisation as a result of mass manufacture (Astrid Weissenborn-Garcia) and its polluting impacts (Catherine Slater). Exhibitors continue this investigation by critiquing an apparent lack of responsibility in addressing these issues at national and global levels (Karola Norolt), addressing a blame culture (Eva Basile), in which no-one is accountable (Liz Emery; Helen O’Hare; Anita Larkin). Graphic questioning of such game-playing as staged through the media is exemplified in the work of Barbara Eichorn and Lyn Griffiths, whilst a humorous approach to such reasoning is outlined by Jacoba Harhammer’s ‘Climate Conference’, in which conference participants are depicted as sheep, followers, who have been ‘fleeced’ in order to maintain the cycle of capitalism. This is the debate as it stands, where we are now.

liz Clay

Liz Clay - United Kingdom,Wool fold, wool paper

The chaotic destruction of the earth’s natural resources and the changing lanscape is presented as a horrific premonition of a future world without intervention (Kerstin Bennier).  A world without change is one of depravity and decay (Liz Clay), the death of beauty and life (Cinzia Li Volsi;  Ruth Zenger; Katia Volpe), of uncontrollability and disaster (Kate Horner; Heidi McEvoy-Swift; Georgie McDonald; Chris Lines). The ties that bind, the fibres that link us to each other and to our environment need to be redressed, re-negotiated and untangled here in order to reverse the damage and to reconnect.


Andrea Graham - Canada, Adaptions II

From these projections of an apocalyptic future, issues of loss and its potential,  environmentally and emotionally (Anna Maria Atturo; Diane Gonthier) have been addressed by exhibitors as indicators memory, or recollection, in which elements of the land become emeshed in symbolic installation (Beathe Thietling). This approach encapsulates the relationship between the individual and a personal interaction with the experience of one’s habitat. Fragments of what could disappear are captured as mementoes of what is at stake, held in statis as a reminder of a world that is without boundaries and is constantly shifting (Marianne Sogaard Sorensen; Annette Block; Waltrand Lilly; Olga Tarasova). With loss comes the potential for restoration, the healing of a global sickness and a remedy for current climate related problems (Sigrid Bannier; Annia Hohmuth; Jeanette Voultter). Indeed, in the work of Sybille Suchy, the swollen earth, bursts and vomits, leaving a gaping void, whilst Mandy Nash’s ‘Make do and Mend’, depicts the earth’s reddened wounds and scarification, indicative of a lengthy and painful healing process, yet one which also promotes hope for the future.

The emphasis of these pieces on nurturing and of human intervention extolls the work of craft; the interaction of skill, knowledge, conceptual artistry and the handmade, clearly acknowledge the sigificance of the medium of felt in communicating these issues. The use of indigenous and sustainable materials, combined with human interaction and labour, articulate that which comes from the land, comes from the human hand, can make amends and transcend the onslaught of environmental chaos (Mary-Jane Walker; Christina Garsky).

 graham detail

Andrea Graham - Canada, Adaptions II close up

‘Climate is Changing’ brings together a wealth of contemporary commentary that address issues on personal, collective, local and international level, speaking to the ordinary individual, institutions and governments simmultaneously. The articulation of these serious and somewhat prophetic messages through such a tactile medium draws the spectator sensorarily into the debate; the viewer, like the maker, becomes literally and metaphorically ‘in touch’ with global issues that impact on everyone and everything. We can all make our mark (Dorothee Ficher; Andrea Graham) and try to erase the destruction of the past.

Dr Jo Turney
Bath Spa University

Artist statements 

Liz Clay - United Kingdom, Wool fold, wool paper

 This work uses fleece from locally sourced flocks. It focuses on and exploits the characteristics that reveal the individuality and diversity of the wool in quality, texture, colour and the potential as a sustainable textile. The result is a playful but provocative visual statement that suggests the enduring quality of this raw material from fleece to sophisticated textile that remains unbroken.


Diane Gonthier  - Canada, Learning to care               

 How does environmental upheaval reflect the way we interact with our relations? Illusions such as thinking that we can survive in isolation or that wealth shields us from suffering deserve attention. The work invites us to kneel down and become a caretaker through the intimate gesture of doing someone’s hair. Caring enables survival through time and  now initiates positive chang

Andrea Graham - Canada, Adaptions II

 In my current work, I express the cycle of growth and decay of living things in

inhospitable conditions. I address mutation and adaptation of the plant world and concern for the safety of our food as a result of climate change and pesticide use. Grotesque appendages and anomalous colour serve as metaphor for concealed mutations, defects and pollutants, while the inviting qualities of hand-made felt and organic form create a curious contrast

Images and Jo Turney esay provide by Eva Basile and reprinted here with permission
The Climate Is Changing

International exhibition of textile art felt, first presented at the Textile Museum of Prato, May 7 to July 7, 2010.  This exhibition will be traveling

The topic, very timely, climate change and the need to revise economic models based on the exploitation of nonrenewable resources, it is interpreted through a little known but extremely versatile material: felt. Produced from sheep wool, felt is an ancient and rich cultural references, it lends itself to the realization of impalpable veils to create three-dimensional solid objects, leaving shape but agrees to merge with other materials, not forgetting to be tissue and therefore can be cut, sewn, embroidered.
No immediate material-mediated processes of spinning, weaving, finishing the felt has its original quality, an essence that makes atavistic Mateer ideal to translate into works of visual art as a subject not easy to change and of the man -nature.

Selected from a shortlist of one hundred and eighty, and from many European countries and North America, Australia and New Zealand, the fifty works on display raise questions, denounced the destruction of the ecosystem, expressing confidence in the regenerative power of nature, or suggest solutions , large wall pieces, installations, sculptures of small format textile, mixed media.

After exposure to the Textile Museum of Prato, the exhibition will be staged in different locations in Germany and the UK.

Wuppertal - Historisches Zentrum, July 17 / August 15, 2010
Göttingen - Holzhof, August 20 / September 12, 2010
Halle - Neue Residenz, September 17 / October 17, 2010
Dresden - Japanisches Palais, October 28 / December 12, 2010
Forchheim - Pfalzmuseum, January 18 / February 13, 2011
Exhibition catalog The Climate Is Changing
Polistampa 2010, 21x21 cm, pp. 132, ill. colors, € 24.00
texts by Daniela Degl'Innocenti, Jo Turney, Lydia Predominato, Antje Soleau, Sigrid Bannier, Eva Basile.
to order the catalog contact Eva Basile: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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