Artists' Plans For Sustainability

Artists' Plans for Sustainability - Review by Laura Bertoni

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The Mead Gallery exhibition, Artists’ Plans for Sustainability, focused on the effects the world’s population is having on the environment through our excessive usage of the planet’s resources. It was a cry for help and a way to raise awareness about the fact that we are asking more from the Earth than it can offer and therefore, we need to resort to an alternative and sustainable way of life to preserve our current living conditions. A group of British and international artists provided the visitor with practical solutions to this current- and dangerous- situation.

Nils Norman’s Bus Shelter and Lucy + Jorge Orta’s HortiRecycling are worthy of praise for their originality and their links with the University. The first was a life-size bus shelter, aiming to use public space efficiently so as to include the local community whilst serving its original purpose and offering an attractive way to decorate the urban landscape. A variety of plants were installed into the shelter itself, integrated into plastic bottles which served as mini gardens for children to grow their own salad and herbs in (the result of a collaboration with two Warwick Engineering students and a member of the Warwick Allotment Society). The bus shelter will leave its mark on the local community as it will be donated to a primary school in Coventry… Warwick should be proud of having such dedicated students!

HortiRecycling caught our eye because of its originality and uniqueness: a mobile tray equipped with a mini fridge, a shopping trolley, a hob and preserve jars. What is it for, might one ask? The Collect Units are used to collect surplus food, and the Processing Units to transform it into new dishes. This ingenious invention will soon be tested on campus for many student kitchens to trial. It is essential for students to understand that ‘the wastage is astonishing, and under the current circumstances appalling’ – a quote from George Orwell puts it, chosen by the artist couple and printed on the side of the unit in an unexpected and thought-provoking way.

A more ‘traditional’ piece of artwork was Marjectica Potrc’s series of colourful drawings, representing Yona Friedman’s idea of the Mobile City and reminding us that nature and man are in perpetual movement – one day the fight over resources, food and territory will have to stop and new, open societies will have to be created to live in harmony. The artist reflects on what is essential in our lives, concluding her piece with this thought: ‘to be happy, all I need is a roof, water and my people’, inviting us to let go of unnecessary things and to focus on what we actually need in order to lead a harmonious and fulfilled life.

The collection was completed by three more pieces; some posters and manifestos by art collective N55 and Capri Battery by Joseph Beuys and Biolace by Carole Collet. They were all quite intriguing and gave a very personal interpretation to the meaning and value of the changing environment and progress in technology which could allow man to genetically modify plants to obtain fragrant, ready-made textiles and fruits from the same plant. To what point can man’s power and knowledge manipulate nature? It’s this question that is the legacy of the exhibition.

Look out for details of the Mead Gallery’s next exhibition soon!

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