Arts, Science and Conservation Programme

Introduction to the programme

Artists inspire new ways of looking at, listening to, and engaging with science, and have an extraordinary capacity to create encounters with the natural world that are memorable. From musicians to poets, painters to dancers, collaborations between artists and scientists have the ability to transform the way we portray and undertake conservation.

Since 2016, when a major exhibition by the artists, Ackroyd and Harvey, Conflicted Seeds + Spirit, formed part of the opening of the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge, the Arts Science and Conservation Programme has collaborated with a growing list of artists, including writers, like Robert Macfarlane, John Kinsella, Kathleen Jamie and Ruth Padel, visual artists including Beatrice Forshall, Elizabeth Butterworth, and Jonathan Kingdon, and, within CCI, catalysing a network of participants in arts and science events, from among our communities of researchers, policy makers, and conservation practitioners, all of who benefit from this interdisciplinarity.

Aims

With exhibitions, events, residencies, and collaborations, and an outstanding collection of original art, to draw the attention of audiences to the work of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and to grow our reach and impact across the 180 plus network countries, as a programme we aim to:

  • build arts and science collaborations that fuel new ways of working, and catalyse debate, and space for innovation with the CCI community;
  • promote original, holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to conservation practice;
  • mainstream biodiversity into a diverse range of arts practices;
  • collaborate with an array of practitioners to encourage work on key species, important sites and places, and critical themes in conservation, not least in situ.

Working closely with artists is a core ambition and, in the three years since the CCI moved into its new home in Cambridge, collaborations have flourished and brought environmental artists, authors, poets, painters and printmakers, photographers, theatre makers, and others into close contact with the CCI network to create new work, exhibitions, and help influence the ways in which conservation activities are developed.

Cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration – making core research matter – is the founding principle of CCI, and engaging the arts community helps, as Bertold Brecht argues so effectively that art is not solely, ‘a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.’