COP 21: Artists come together to launch Festival of Climate Ideas alongside conference

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 November 2015

Artists unite for international programme as UN Climate Change Conference begins in Paris

A photo of a woman walking along as part of a colourful climate change parade
Memorial Day for Lost Species takes place today, coinciding with the start of the UN Climate Change Conference© Ben Ellsworth
For the past five years, Remembrance for Lost Species has commemorated the passing of the Greak Auk, Caribbean Monk Seal, Western Black Rhino and even the humble Passenger Pigeon.

At the start of a Festival of Climate Ideas coinciding with the start of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, a bell will be cast and rung in Brighton today as part of a programme of national and international commemorations.

A black and white photo of artists taking part in a ceremony on a beach
A ceremony to remember the Caribbean monk seal© Ben Ellsworth
Memorial Day for Lost Species was launched in Sussex when Brighton theatre company Feral met celebrants building a cairn at Mount Caburn, near Glynde in memory of extinct species.

The idea grew and spread, both in the UK and internationally. Groups continue to meet on the last day of November to hold memorials. There have been several ceremonies for the Great Auk (extinct in 1852), including a burial at sea and funeral pyres in coastal Wales and Scotland.

A photo of a large glowing campfire foundry
Bristol-based performance collective Ore and Ingot have made a travelling foundry for the festival© Nick Caro
In Belgium, families lit candles for disappeared native butterflies. In Brighton, paper flags inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead were waved in a procession for the Caribbean Monk Seal (extinct since 1952).

Last year there were a number of centenary memorials marking the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, lost in 1914.

A black and white photo of artists taking part in a ceremony on a beach
Keeley Clarke, Passenger Pigeon© Keeley Clarke
The bell casting, which will be launched by a local schoolboy, aims to build on a call by the Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory for people everywhere to ring bells simultaneously on the last day of November in memory of lost species.

It’s partly a response to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet report last year, which revealed that Earth has lost half its wildlife in the past four decades.

A black and white photo of artists taking part in a ceremony on a beach
© Keeley Clarke
Work began last year on a 30-metre-high stone building on the isle of Portland, Dorset, which will house the Observatory as a permanent information and exhibition centre for the 860 species identified as extinct since the demise of the dodo in the 17th century.

While the festival aims to be a fun place for conversations and bright ideas, it also offers a space to consider the more uncomfortable realities of climate change.

A photo of a sculpture of a colourful tiger
Emily Lauren's Bali Tiger Shrine© Emily Lauren
Its base is Onca Gallery in Brighton, where the basement and crypt offer quieter, more reflective spaces.

“We’ll be offering the gallery as a space to explore questions, ideas and feelings about climate change and the international negotiations,” says Creative Producer Persephone Pearl.

“We need to develop the skills to tackle the complex challenges of climate change.” A Climate Change Theatre Action day will close the festival on Sunday.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three places to explore climate change in

Aberystwyth Arts Centre
A magnificent and unsettling sight, Stranded - a 6m long Minke whale skeleton encrusted with ice-like alum crystals, created by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey - arouses a strong visceral response in the viewer. Like much of the artists’ work this piece centres on issues around climate change; specifically of human-induced changes in the chemistry of the oceans and the threat to marine food cycles. Until January 16 2016.

Science Museum, London
The Atmosphere gallery is an exciting place to make sense of the climate – the science of how it works, what it’s doing now and what it might do next. Step into a virtual world, with its own oceans, land and atmosphere, and go back in time to discover key moments in the Earth’s multibillion-year climate history.

The Architecture Centre, Bristol
Celebrating Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015, organisers have transformed the centre gallery into a ‘City Ideas Studio’ – a year-long hub where people from all parts of the city can come together to explore solutions for a sustainable future through exhibitions, workshops, talks and events. Until January 31 2016.
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