Chelsea Physic Garden, London
Curator: David Worthington
Pertaining to Things Natural offered a compelling insight into contemporary creativity inspired by the natural world. Whether or not the works are a specific response to the Garden, the artists’ proposals shared the desire to use the exhibition as an opportunity to add to the environmental debate, offering fresh ideas to maintain the momentum of change. The exhibition came at a key moment in the environmental debate when activism and argument have been replaced instead by a growing sense of resignation to the inevitability of environmental degradation. The facts become more apparent daily but the arguments have already been spelt out and if the public no longer listen, then neither will the politicians. Radical new solutions are needed.
Artists change society at a visceral and elemental level. They achieve change by engaging our senses and spreading new ideas as suggestions rather than demands. The current objective of the ecology movement is to change lifestyles and by building an aesthetic that embodies a sound environmental perspective, artists have the potential to provide a channel to communicate at a deeper level than through polemic. The one day conference, Artistic Strategies for the Environment, considered ways artists contribute to social and environmental change, looking at existing projects and offering fresh, meaningful ideas.
By offering this platform to artists Pertaining to Things Natural… hoped to construct visual and sensory metaphors that reach a wider audience through positive, physical and emotional experiences. As environmental organisations consider new ways to engage the public in environmental issues affecting the planet, artists continue to make a significant contribution through the development of a language that resonates with people on a more profound level, helping to create a strong cultural response to the challenges of the 21st century.