Active Environmentalism is a phrase that might be best described as emancipating our thinking through understanding to help with our own individual proactive decisions. We are delighted to include in our opening programming a series of consecutive Wednesday evening talks to follow one to the other.
Our own decisions and reasonings are personal but by being informed there is no doubt we are in a better position to make the right choices of our own accord. Active Environmentalism is about the private decision and not the placard debate.
From better understanding nature at the sea bed and upwards, to rationalising how a price can be put on the environment, to radical thinking at the intersection of science and necessity which may question our belief in anything that has gone before.
Underpinning this is an appreciation and respect for nature to which most artists will readily align and the prospect of innovation running like creativity itself at the vanguard of our thoughts.
Each talk is approximately 30-40 minutes long followed by discussions and we welcome your questions in advance to help build the conversation.
Join for one talk priced at £10 or take up Online Membership for the entire year and attend as many as you would like. Membership includes an archive of Digital content to catch up on these and other recorded talks as well as online video and research.
Individual Talks: £10
Online membership to include all online talks for the year: £30Online membership
Wednesday 21 July, 6:30pm
Artist & environmentalist Kurt Jackson has created a new body of work and a book about biodiversity. The exhibition is on tour from May.
Wednesday 28 July, 6:30pm
Join us talk with photographer Yan Wang Preston interviewed by our director of photography Dr Julie Bonzon.
Saturday 7 August, 10 am
Robert Penn, author of the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, ‘Slow Rise: A Bread-Making Adventure’, will join us in the Mess Restaurant for a conversation over a breakfast of freshly-baked bread.
Friday 13 August, 6:30pm
Join artists Rebecca Partridge, Hannah Brown and Narbi Price in conversation on shifting aesthetics in landscape painting.
Wednesday 13 January, 6:30pm
Join us online for a conversation with Olly Steeds on his mission to sequence the ocean genome. For years Olly Steeds has lead missions to catalogue the underwater environment. Now he is on a mission to sequence the ocean genome to understand where it has come from and where it is going. Oliver Steeds is the Founder of Nekton and leads the management and development of the organisation and field operations. Formerly he was a critically acclaimed broadcast journalist with ABC, NBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channels and others. He is co-founder of Encounter EDU including the Ocean’s Academy.
Wednesday 20 January, 6:30pm
Join us online for a conversation with activist, environmentalist and conservationist Ben Goldsmith about rewilding and the environment. Ben Goldsmith, who owns a 300-acre farm, near Bruton in Somerset, plans to transform it into a wild habitat within the next four years.
He says, “We want to achieve the kind of species-rich, shape-shifting scrubby wood pasture environment that once blanketed much of western Britain.”
Working with a wildlife ecologist, Ben has encouraged wetlands along the River Frome, wild flowers and native species including water voles, beavers and glow-worms – which used to be a feature of long summer evenings.
Ben is an advisor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and is CEO of Menhaden, his green investment business.
Attendees will receive a Zoom link before the start of the event.
Wednesday 27 January, 6:30pm
Join us online in conversation with writer and conservationist Isabella Tree who will be speaking with the travel writer and novelist Philip Marsden about her pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex.
Wednesday 3 February, 6:30pm
Fine Art photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas joins us for an online talk about his recent project and book.
Previously known for his portraits, Hugo Rittson Thomas’ has recently celebrated a very different cultural icon, the wildflower meadow. In partnership with conservation charity Plantlife, Hugo was inspired by the achievements of the Coronation Meadows established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2013. He explains: “The idea of the Coronation Meadows initiative was a simple one: to find the best surviving meadow in each county and use seed from that meadow to create a new one.”
In 2012, conservation charity Plantlife published ‘Our Vanishing Flora’, a report highlighting the loss of wild flowers from counties across Great Britain since the Coronation. In his foreword, Plantlife’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales lamented this loss and called for the creation of new wildflower meadows, at least one in every county, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation.
Wednesday 10 February, 6:30pm
Join in the online talk with Brigit Strawbridge Howard wildlife gardener, naturalist, and advocate of bees.
Based in North Dorset, she writes and campaigns to raise awareness of the importance and diversity of native wild bees and other pollinating insects. Her debut book, Dancing with Bees: A Journey Back to Nature, documents the story of how her interest in bees led to her rediscovering her childhood love of the natural world.
Planet Earth is home to more than 20,000 different species of bee; as diverse in size and appearance, as they are in behaviour, life-cycles, and habitat requirements. Around 280 of these bee species can be found in Britain & Ireland.
Wednesday 17 February, 6:30pm
As part of our Active Environmentalism series of events, the NFU’s Nick von Westenholz joins us to discuss Environmental Land Management.
In England 69% of our landscape is farmed, under the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, farmers will be paid for work that enhances the environment, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife. Farmers will therefore be at the forefront of reversing environmental declines and tackling climate change as they reshape the future of farming in the 21st century
24 February 6:30pm
Join the conversation with Sir Tim Smit where we debate radical thinking at the intersection of science, necessity and the environment.
We will discuss the explosion of cell tech, why China has committed to major investments in its development, and what this means for the future of our farming industries.
Sir Tim Smit KBE is a leading environmentalist and businessman particularly recognised for his work on the Lost Gardens of Heligan and founding the Eden Project International.
Smit developed the Eden project in 1996 with the aim to educate people about ecological matters and encourages a greater understanding and empathy for our environment. His book about the creation of the Eden Project, ‘Eden’, first published in 2001 is the best-selling environment book of the century to date.
Wednesday 3 March, 6:30pm
Conversation with James Arbib of RethinX, an independent think tank looking at technology-driven disruption & implications across society.
Against a backdrop of a generation instinctively calling for more immediate action on climate, what role can technology play and how we avoid prescribing a medicine worse than the disease?
Wednesday 10 March, 6:30pm
Join our flock! The RSPB’s Beccy Speight discusses what our migrating & permanent residents tell us about wider changes to the environment.
Wednesday 7 April, 6:30pm
Husband and wife team David and Annie will join us to discuss the microbial roots of life and health.
Good health—for people and plants—depends on microbiomes, the communities of Earth’s smallest and least-loved creatures.
Wednesday 28 April, 6:30pm
Online talk with landscape architect Kim Wilkie who has worked on the grounds of the Natural History Museum & the V&A.
Each place has its own special character and identity – a continuous conversation between the physical form and the lives lived and shaped within it. As a landscape architect Kim tries to understand the memories and associations embedded in a place and the natural flows of people, land, water and climate.
Wednesday 5 May, 6:30pm
Join Charlie Paton, product developer, designer/maker who is working on a virtuous cycle that produces food & water where it is most needed.
For the past 20 years he has been developing his Seawater Greenhouse concept, designed to produce food and water on barren land in hot and arid coastal regions.
Wednesday 12 May, 6:30pm
Author & Professor of genetics Tim Spector discusses how his Zoe COVID-19 Symptom Study app is transforming the way we tackle Coronavirus.
The COVID Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that was launched at the end of March 2020 to support vital COVID-19 research.
16 July – 5 September
Messums is delighted to present ‘Unkempt’, an exhibition recognising the advent of a changing aesthetic in landscape – one that is by its nature wild, messy and more empathetic to the environment. Opening in the Long Gallery at Messums Wiltshire this July ‘Unkempt’ showcases established and emerging artists who are questioning how aesthetics can shape our opinion about the environment and creating a different way of finding beauty in our landscape.
15 January – 28 February 2021
An exhibition of paintings by Kurt Jackson, one of Britain’s leading environmental landscape artists and campaigners, documents the spring of 2020 and the arcadia he found bursting into life immediately outside his front door in a remote part of west Cornwall during the challenging period of national lockdown.
Jackson’s inaugural show at Messums Yorkshire focuses on paintings of trees that he and his wife, Caroline, planted twenty years ago and that have, over time, formed hollow ‘greenways’ or paths in the interstices between the lines of planting, along which he walked every day from his house to his studio.
The tunnels, laced with the play of light and shade, are groves of wildflowers, insects and birds that Jackson celebrates in his paintings.
23 January – 21 February 2021
For over a decade Beth Moon has been documenting the biggest, oldest and rarest trees in the world. This exhibition focuses on some of the most famous oaks in the UK. Her work highlights the delicate duality of their existence— as both powerful but also vulnerable to environmental elements and human intervention. Beth Moon was born in Neenah, Wisconsin and studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin. Beth has gained international recognition for her large-scale, richly toned platinum prints. Since 1999, Moon’s work has appeared in more than sixty solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Italy, England, France, Israel, Brazil, Dubai, Singapore, and Canada.