CCI Arts, Science & Conservation Programme
‘[Art is not solely], a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.’ Bertold Brecht
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rebecca Jewell, Sarah Gillespie, and Esther Tyson are exploring the threat of severe environmental change on the status and diversity of UK species, focusing on seaweeds, moths, and farmland birds. The exhibition will showcase works and research that has been developed during their artist residencies with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI).
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.
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.
The RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative working in collaboration with Poetry Magazine The Rialto.
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.