Active Environmentalism marks the transition from protest to participation. It is a recognition that knowledge is better shared and that when informed our innate moral compasses are all the guide we need.
During these early months of 2021, we are hosting a series of consecutive discussions that take us from the sea though land and air towards a consideration on the future.
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: £20
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.
Friday 15 January 2021
During the week the exhibition ‘Future Ancestors’ by photographer Dr Christian Thompson AO opens at Messums London we present a podcast interview with the artist. Christian will introduce us to the exhibition and the concepts behind his new work.
Dr Christian Thompson AO is an Australian born contemporary artist whose work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity & history. Formally trained as a sculptor, Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice engages mediums such as photography, video, sculpture, performance & sound. His work focuses on the exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, race and memory. In his conceptual portraits he inhabits a range of personas achieved through handcrafted costumes & carefully orchestrated poses & backdrops. In 2010 Thompson made history when he became the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted into the University of Oxford in its 900-year history.
Christian Thompson received a BA in Fine Art from the University of Southern Queensland, Brisbane, before a Masters in Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2004. Thompson went on to study performing arts in Amsterdam and achieved his Doctorate of Philosophy (Fine Art), from Oxford University in 2015.
Christian Thompson has held solo exhibitions in Berlin, London, Valencia, Spain, Paris, Finland, Italy, Shanghai, Taiwan, South Korea, Netherlands, Canada and various locations in the USA in addition to Exhibiting across Australia.
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.
12 January – 12 February 2021
Born in Gawler, South Australia (1978), DR Christian Thompson AO is a photographer who is often the subject of his own work and is highly engaged with navigating colonial dynamics. As someone with indigenous Australian heritage Thompson avoids the term ‘aboriginal artist – a mechanism often used for further marginalisation – while grappling with the tensions and undercurrents of his country’s nationhood. Looking at the dichotomy of photographer and subject, which is so often white ethnographer and indigenous case study, Thompson turns the lens back around. Describing his creative process as part of an ongoing investigation he practices and enshrines his cultural heritage and it’s multiplicity of faces. Putting on a range of costumes and guises he masterfully steps in and out of cultural roles; indigenous and non-indigenous, photographer and subject, with the image acting as a set in which he can animate a part that allows him to come to terms with, and address, the discrepancies between those roles.
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.