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.

Working closely with artists is a core ambition and, since the CCI moved into its new home in the David Attenborough Building, 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 and exhibitions which help influence the ways in which conservation activities are developed.

Collaborators include: Robert Macfarlane, John Kinsella, Kathleen Jamie and Ruth Padel, Beatrice Forshall, Elizabeth Butterworth, and Jonathan Kingdon

Projects

All of our projects respond to the biodiversity challenges that our world currently faces and explore the role that culture and contemporary arts practice can play in inviting exchange, dialogue and debate around these critical issues.

Our residencies and projects aim to give artists both time and space to collaborate, through practice-based research, with transdisciplinary teams of conservationists and scientists based at the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge. Residencies are frequently experimental and interdisciplinary in nature, often resulting in a public programme which may include participatory installations, exhibitions and symposia.

All of these encounters and interventions invite audiences to creatively engage and reflect on how we can individually and collectively live sustainably with our planet. A selection of our projects can be seen here.

Residencies

The Endangered Landscapes Artist Residencies

The arts and cultural practice are a powerful means of reawakening our sense of the familiar, connecting to the past, and exploring possible futures. They play a pivotal role in addressing environmental challenges and are a compelling route into understanding how people are connected to landscape.

Engraving the Red List – Beatrice Forshall

Beatrice Forshall is an artist and print maker who specialises in dry point engraving. During her residency at CCI, Forshall worked alongside researchers, policy makers and specialist practitioners from across the CCI partnership. Her work focused on a series of species that are threatened by global trade, ranging from the iconic Black Rhino Diceros bicornis, at risk because of trade in horn, to Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica, and on to far less well known species, such as the Tanzanian Whip Scorpion Damon variegatus which is widely collected for the pet trade.

Seeing Red.. Overdrawn – Ackroyd & Harvey 2018

The writing is on the wall. Yet the text is printed very faintly. Members of the public and conservationists connected with the David Attenborough Building were invited, one at a time, to make their mark by over-writing with indelible pen the name of one of the species, drawing attention to it, and bringing it to visibility.

The Factory of the Future (We know not what we may be) - Zoë Svendsen

As part of a residency at the David Attenborough Building, Zoë Svendsen, Dramaturg and Artistic Director of METIS, transformed CCI’s Artist’s Studio into THE FACTORY OF THE FUTURE (WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE MAY BE) – an installation for storytelling, interaction and experimentation that explores challenges surrounding a transformative future.

Lines of Migration - Matt Howard

In 2020 we were delighted to welcome poet and conservationist, Matt Howard, as an artist-in residence. In collaboration with John Fanshawe and organisations within CCI, Matt developed Lines of Migration – a poetry translation project that aims to bring together poets and poems, both contemporary and from the past, that engage with nature and place.

Evolution as Inspiration - Jonathan Kingdon

A collaboration between artist, zoologist and author Jonathan Kingdon, the Arts, Science and Conservation Programme at CCI, and the Museum of Zoology, Evolution as Inspiration explored a lifetime of observations in nature.

Exhibitions

Slate Work - David Attenborough Building

As part of the development of the David Attenborough Building itself, Ackroyd and Harvey were awarded a major public art commission in response to the redevelopment of this iconic brutalist building. It is publicly accessible at all times.

True to Nature - Fitzwilliam Museum 2022

A unique exhibition, explore the inventive ways artists in the 18th and 19th centuries recorded fleeting moments in nature, capturing the effects of light, drama, and atmosphere first-hand in the open air.

Breaking Point – Fragility in Clay and Nature, Museum of Zoology 2021

CCI’s Arts, Science and Conservation Programme is delighted to be collaborating with the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology again this summer on Breaking Point – a ceramics exhibition inspired by the natural world.

Special Projects

The annual Rialto Nature And Place Poetry Competition

The RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative working in collaboration with Poetry Magazine The Rialto.

Owned by Everyone

2019 conference on the plight, poetry and science of the Atlantic salmon, inspired by Ted Hughes’s example, and borrowing the words he put into the mouth of the usually speechless salmon smolt, organised with Mark Wormald, Pembroke College and the Salmon & Trout Conservation NGO.