December: 1st December 2016: Culture & Heritage

December’s meeting was inspired by the One Planet Living theme of Culture and Heritage. We explored the role the arts can play in relation to the concerns of Sustainable Frome. How can arts and culture be used to convey a message or to make important connections between people? And we also seized the opportunity to share in the inspirational creations of two local artists participating in the session.

Some of the key ideas to emerge from the session were:

Music and dance:

  • The roots of communication are in singing, dancing and drumming – these can (re-)create connection between people and between people and the earth
  • Dance can help connect us to tradition or heritage, as in circle dance
  • Songs can raise awareness at the same time as creating a powerful emotional response, for example in anti-fracking action and protest movements

Visual arts

  • Photographic images can have an enormous impact, raising concern about key issues and triggering an emotional response
  • Many graphics have become iconic and long-lived, such as the CND symbol
  • Communities can produce an image which expresses collective messages and aspirations, for example through murals or local exhibitions

Writing and drama

  • Writing can be used to express connection with nature – see, for example,
  • In the community, activities such as cycle cinema, street theatre and storytelling can have a powerful impact
  • Inspiring films noted were Before the Flood; Seed – the Untold Story; This Changes Everything; The Age of Stupid; Soylent Green.
  • And beloved writers and books: Peter Marren Rainbow Dust; Michael McCarthy The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy; John Evelyn; Jay Griffiths Wild – An Elemental Journey; Robert McFarland; Keats; David Abrams Becoming Animal.

3D art forms

  • Sculpture and street furniture can change perceptions and help develop a unique sense of place – for example, The Big Tree Dreaming by Barry Cooper; Andy Goldsworthy; Antony Gormley
  • Community arts projects – such as quilts made by prisoners in London , knitting and crochet to draw attention to issues such as the threat to the Barrier Reef
  • The use of local materials to create ‘natural’ buildings or creating art forms using waste materials
  • And see the Society of Wildlife Artists –

During the session we also appreciated Stina Harris’ sketches and illustrated books, and a short story from Jane Flood. You had to have been there! Inspirational and a privilege…

Ideas about what more we might do in Frome included mural projects and street theatre – perhaps during festival week.

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