Mat Chivers at AUCB Exlab

Exeter academics contribute to arts-science debate

Artists, scientists and policy makers will come together at the third Creative Coast Forum event at the University of Exeter on 10 September. University of Exeter researchers will join discussions on the question ‘Can artists and scientists work together to improve the management of naturally designated sites?'

The discussion will be illustrated by some of the creative work that has taken place over the last four years on the Jurassic Coast. The keynote speaker is Professor Deborah Dixon from Aberystwyth University, part of a NSF-AHRC funded UK-US team researching 'Art-science collaborations: Bodies and Environments'. The afternoon debate will be chaired by BBC Radio 4's Material World presenter, Quentin Cooper, who will be joined by a panel including University of Exeter geographer Dr Caitlin DeSilvey.

The Jurassic Coast is unique for more than its rocks, fossils and landforms and is the first natural World Heritage Site to actively seek to involve the arts' sector in its management. It is hoped that this will set a precedent for other parts of the world and leave a legacy for the arts, natural sciences, and our environment in England.

Creative Coast 2012 brings together and supports delivery of a range of arts projects inspired by scientific research and responding to the Jurassic Coast, many of which have involved input from University of Exeter academics. A number of these projects have formed part of Maritime Mix - London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea, Dorset's largest creative celebration to date. These include Exploratory Laboratory, Coastal Voices and The Jurassic Coast Earth Festival 2012.              

"Through the Creative Coast 2012 project, The Jurassic Coast Partnership has been working with arts partners to develop creative projects which support the management of England's only natural World Heritage Site. This event will begin an international discourse around natural science, art and the value and management of World Heritage Sites. Having the Olympic and Paralympic Games off the Jurassic Coast has given us the unique opportunity to begin this ground breaking work while there is media attention here," said Daisy Sutcliffe, Creative Coast 2012 Coordinator.

University of Exeter geographer Dr David Harvey said: “Through our research we work closely with artists, community groups and others to bring art and science together in a way that really benefits people. The Creative Coast project is a wonderful example of how academics, scientists, artists and members of local communities can work together to deepen our appreciation of the places we value. This event will be a celebration of these achievements and will also be an opportunity for us to debate and discuss how this work can support the management of England's only natural World Heritage Site.”

AHRC-funded PhD doctoral student in partnership with Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site Rose Ferraby added: "It is a real treat to work with individuals who have such deep understandings of the complexities of landscape on the Jurassic coast, approaching and communicating it in very different ways. It is a landscape of constantly shifting boundaries, both in its physical presence and the ideas it has come to represent, which is why it offers such a fantastic foundation within which to explore wider implications across many disciplines."

PhD Student Jon Croose has spent the summer participating in town carnivals on the Jurassic Coast for his AHRC sponsored research project The Practices of Carnival: Communities, Culture and Place. His work has also included an examination of professional artist-led processions and outdoor arts as part of the Battle for the Winds ceremony which launched the Olympic sailing at Weymouth. He said: “My research explores how people and organisations express themselves in public space by parading symbolic reflections of identity. Carnival events are vibrant examples of collective, creative action which reflect the strong bonds which exist between people and places. In the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, these events offer natural scientists the chance to participate in the cultural lives of communities by working with artists and local people.”

This Creative Coast Forum Event is supported by European Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities, University of Exeter, The Jurassic Coast, Dorset County Council, Exeter City Council, and Arts Council England.

Date: 7 September 2012