Could artists do this?


The question of what artists do is a subject of interest for ecoartscotland and we’d like to highlight two pieces of evidence.

The first is the submission to the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry on Energy Subsidies in the UK.  This submission has been made by PLATFORM who’s strap line is arts, activism, education and research.  PLATFORM understand these aspects of their practice as a collective to be integral to each other, and that artists should engage with public policy and politics.  The public hearing was broadcast by the UK Parliament and you can watch it here.  PLATFORM understand this to be part of the programme of a social and environmental arts organisations.

The second is the essay on biodiversity by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, which although it includes a number of their texts/poems and references their images, is a strategic argument about biodiversity and land management…

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Education For Socially Engaged Art – Pablo Helguera


SEA- the tone of collaboration set by artist as conceptual director of project.

Defined by the role the artist assumes.

Accountability and Expertise.

Myles Horton ” my expertise is in knowing not to be an expert”

(look at Paulo Friere – farmers – exchange of knowledge. Point = not telling people what they don’t know – helping them to discover their own expertise so they can decide for themselves what they needed to know.)

Collaborative art requires modes of communication that recognize the limitations and potentials of a collective relationship.

Criteria for success – the distribution of accountability between the artist and his collaborators must be articulated.

The artist is not an invisible catalyst of experiences. Authorship.

Expertise – the artist provides a framework on which experiences can form and sometimes be directed to generate new insights around a particular issue (similar to teaching?)

Frameworks of Collaboration: the level of input from community must be defined. Incentives to feel ownership of the project. Truly invest not just participate.

Required: A reflection on the terms under which the artist and the group will interact.

Not easy to accomplish with other pressures (originality etc)

* Recognize the value that individuals bring to a collaboration.

* Each individual brings their own expertise and interests.

Collective motivation

* Do not use rigid structures as you must allow for the input of potential collaborators

Harrison Owen – Open Space Technology – collective brainstorming.

(RE: Real problem solving)

Collaborative Environment: Make the best use of the space you have.

Documentation – Education for Socially Engaged Art – Helguera

*Authorship hinges on the existence of a recognisable product.


The centre of SEA -> “an intangible social interaction between a group of people can constitute the core of an artwork.”

Documentation to take the place of an ‘end product’.  How can you effectively document?

Up to the group participants to function as interpreter of these accounts – but not as primary reporter. How does this work in practical sense?

In the artists own description – lines are blurred between actuality and wishful thinking. Everyone interprets events differently – perspective/experience etc

If there is no verifiable documentation then work of fiction or symbolic piece is produced.

Means of documentation – film,video,series of photographs, word-of-mouth accounts, written accounts and interviews. They retain some aspect of ‘product’

Jurgen Habermas ‘if I organise a collective action then describe and illustrate it onmy own I am taking an instrumentalizing approach to what in theory was a collective experience.’ The art and the documentation must belong to everyone.

Documentation should be regarded as an inextricable component of an action,one which ideally, becomes a quotidian and evolving component of the event, not an element of postproduction but a coproduction of viewers, interpreters and narrators.’ – Documentation should be woven into the fabric of the art – not seen as a by-product or ‘add-on

Documentation must be understood and utilized in full recognition of its inadequacy as a surrogate for the actual experience (unless it is meant to be the final product, in which case the work would not be SEA)

Documentation is usually displayed in a traditional exhibition format, in which it is allowed to narrate the experience.

SEA cant evoke the immediacy of a collective experience in gallery goers by presenting a video recording of it – this would be viewed as a video installation and not as the social experience it was meant to communicate.

Helen Lambin



Chicago resident and grandmother Helen Lambin likes it when young people stop her on the street to give her compliments on her tattoos, or when they simply yell out, “Nice ink!”. She enjoys the fact that her tattoos have helped create connections with strangers, of different generations and cultures. The idea for getting a tattoo came to her three years ago when she was feeling down about growing older. One led to another, and then another…

Wool Week Day 3 – Wednesday

Whalsay knitting group!!

I cant believe we are half way through the week already! Today we had another brilliant Fair Isle Class with Hazel Tindall



As the rain poured outside the ladies chose two colours and got started with their knitting. Hazel gave them a chart and they could choose to knit a wristwarmer or a skinny scarf. She also brought in some examples of her Fair Isle knitting for us to see


And the quiet set in as they all began to concentrate..

PicMonkey Collage


At the end of the class there was a great start to the knitting for the class members to take away and add to.


In the afternoon we had a visit from the Whalsay Bairns Knitting Club, we first met the girls when they came to visit us a few months ago to be filmed for the BBC. The group consists of about 10 or so young girls who…

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