Doreen Massey Annual Event, 27 June 2019 : Environmental Engagement and the Politics of Creative Practice



FutureLearn, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP

                       Discussion: 10.30am - 6.30pm

 (Lunch & refreshments provided and a Wine reception from 5pm)


This event was Live on Facebook Here:


Environmental Engagement and the Politics of Creative Practice

Artistic and creative practice has become an increasingly important set of resources and methods used for public engagement (Gauntlet 2007, Kara 2015). Arts based engagement with contemporary environmental issues, for example, related the climate change and the complex environmental issues of the Anthropocene, has become a key area for such developments (Buckland 2006). Creative practice may be understood as research that involves participants and respondents in imagining, making and telling as a set of interrelated practices. Taken together as a process of engagement, these should be as Helguera (2011) suggests, both educational in the broadest sense and mutually transformative for the publics, practitioners and researchers involved. Examples abound in areas as diverse as scientific and environmental understanding, policy and planning, health and wellbeing and community, diversity and social cohesion. In these and other contexts, creative practice can encourage conversation around issues that might otherwise be difficult to articulate and provide a presence for human and non-human others in discussions and debates (Dryzek and Niemeyar 2012; Kester 2004, 2011).  From this perspective, it is possible to see how such artistic and creative practice might facilitate a more inclusive post-human environmental politics with capacity to give a presence to human and non-human voices (Latour 1993, 20). As Braidotti (2018) has recently argued this has the potential for contributing to: ‘a frame for the actualization of the many missing people, whose ‘minor’ or nomadic knowledge is the breeding ground for possible futures’.

Though asymmetries of power are often acknowledged between publics, practitioners and institutional decision makers in relation to creative engagements (Bishop 2006, 2010), the ways in which creative practice might more fully participate in political processes and decision making often remain implicit. All too frequently it is simply assumed that artistic and creative engagements will inform, animate and activate publics and public opinion. Yet the means by which this is achieved and matters of interest are transformed into matters of concern often remains opaque (Helguera 2011). Increasingly the role of creative engagements as educational process are recognized as an important component of their transformative potential in terms of the broader understanding of complex information and the co-creation of knowledge both of which  might encourage more informed and and inclusive decision making. However, the relationships between artistic and creative practices, educational processes and a more inclusive politics remain to be more fully explored.

This workshop will:

  • Examine the role of artistic and creative practice in facilitating the co-creation of knowledge and understanding;
  • Explore the ways in which artistic and creative practice might be formally and informally engaged in environmental decision making, political debate and process.


Bishop, C. (2006) The Social Turn: Collaboration and its discontents. Art Forum, February, pp.179 - 185

Bishop, C. (2010) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, London: Verso

Buckland, D. (2006) Burning ice: art and climate change,  London: Cape Farewell.

Braidotti, R. (2018) A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities. Theory, Culture & Society. Accessed 01/12/2018 at

Dryzek, J. and Niemeyar, S. (2012) What is deliberative democracy? D2G2 Blogpost, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. Accessed 20/02/2018 at

Gauntlett, D. (2007) Creative explorations: new approaches to identities and audiences. Abingdon: Routledge.

Helguera, P. (2011). Education for Socially Engaged Art: A materials and techniques handbook, New York: Jorge Pinto Books

Kara, H. (2015) Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A practical guide, Bristol: Policy Press.

Kester, G. H. (2004). Conversation Pieces: Community and communication in modern art, Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Kester, G.H. (2011). The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in the Global Context, Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Latour, B. (1993) We have never been modern, Harvester Wheatsheaf: Hemel Hempstead.

Latour, B. (2004) Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press


Dr Julian Brigstocke

Dr Marit Hammond - Lecturer in Environmental Politics – Lecturer in Politics

Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, Keele University

Dr George Revill - Open University

Dr Andrew Hewitt - University of Northampton

Malaika Cunningham – Theatre Practitioner and Researcher

University of Leeds

David Buckland   – Designer, Artist and Film Maker

Cape Farewell

Dr. Stephen Pritchard – Researcher

Northumbria University

Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski  – Reader in Sociology

Lancaster University

Dr Emma Roe - Associate Professor in Human Geography

University of Southampton

Professor Nigel Clark

Professor Tim Collins

Sounding Coastal Change Team

Julian Brigstocke is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Cardiff University. He is author of The Life of the City: Space, Humour, and the Experience of Truth in Fin-de-Siècle MontmartreHis new book,The Aesthetics of Authority, will be out with Bristol University Press in 2020. His research works across disciplinary boundaries and develops post-humanist theoretical frameworks to investigaterelationships between cities, aesthetics, and authority. He has recently finished an AHRC project on creative post-humanist research methods titled Participation’s “Others”: A Cartography of Creative Listening Practices. He is currently working on cultures, politics, and historical geographies of sand, mud, and other unstable grounds in Hong Kong.

Marit Hammond is Lecturer in Politics at the School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment (SPIRE) at Keele University, and a Co-Investigator at the ESRC-funded Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) led by Professor Tim Jackson at the University of Surrey. Her research interests include environmental political theory, normative democratic theory, critical theory, political culture, and the governance of sustainability. Recent work includes the co-authored book Power in Deliberative Democracy: Norms, Forums, Systems(Palgrave; with Nicole Curato and John B. Min), and numerous articles in journals such as Contemporary Political TheoryDemocratizationCritical Review of International Social and Political PhilosophyEnvironmental Politics,Environmental ValuesRepresentationConstellations, and Policy Sciences.


Dr. Andrew Hewitt is an artist and academic. He is a member of The Partisan Social Club, a provisional group including artists, designers and researchers and previously a member of the Freee art collective 2004-2018 with Dave Beech and Mel Jordan.Hewitt’s work has fore-fronted the application of public sphere theory to the practice of participatory arts in order to investigate the relationship between art and its publics. In his practice he produces slogans, billboards and publications that aim to challenge the commercial and bureaucratic colonization of the public sphere. Hewitt has developed projects at the Istanbul Biennial, Liverpool Biennial as well as BAK Utrecht, Wysing Arts, Milton Keynes Gallery, SMART Project Amsterdam, ICA, International Project Space Birmingham. Hewitt is a founding co-editor of Art & the Public Sphere Journaland Senior Lecturer in Art & the Public Sphere, University of Northampton.

David Buckland, artist, founded and directs the Cape Farewell project. Now in its 18th year, Cape Farewell inspires and champions the work of artists, writers, performers to address the challenge of climate change. Scientists have made us aware of the seriousness of climate change but solutions are culture – we need to shift global society and the creative estate is central to visioning what is possible.

Over 400 creatives have worked with Cape Farewell to produce work released into the public domain and many, like Buckland, have refocused their art practice to be active in delivering societal change.  Being political, demanding change, yet still adhere to notions of art and not to preach is a high wire balance that has been studied and researched. BBC’s Costing the Earth, recent psychosocial research, publications in Nature all attest to the power of the creative voice in influencing change.  Climate is Culture.

Stephen Pritchard is an independent academic, art historian, critical theorist, activist, writer, curator, filmmaker and community artist.  His interdisciplinary approach to research is grounded in postcritical ethnography, radical art history, Frankfurt School Critical Theory and Critical Urban Theory. He has presented papers internationally, lectures widely and his writing has been widely published. He is a co-organiser for the Movement for Cultural Democracy and co-founder of Art Not Arms, Artists Against Social Cleansing and the Socially Engaged and Participatory Arts Network. He is also currently working as a critical friend for Super Slow Way – a Creative People and Places project and as lead artist on a project in ‘Category D’ pit villages in North East England for Northern Heartlands Great Place project.


Bronislaw Szerszynski is Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University.  His research crosses the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities in order to situate the changing relationship between humans, environment and technology in the longer perspective of human and planetary history.  He is author of Nature, Technology and the Sacred(2005), and co-editor of Risk, Environment and Modernity (1996), Re-Ordering Nature: Theology, Society and the New Genetics (2003), Nature Performed: Environment, Culture and Performance(2003) and Technofutures: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Nature and the Sacred(2015).  His current work focuses on the Anthropocene, geoengineering, mobility and planetary evolution.  As well as interdisciplinary academic publications, outputs also include performances, art-science exhibitions and events and experimental participatory workshops.  He was co-organiser of the public art–science events Between Nature: Explorations in Ecology and Performance(Lancaster, 2000), Experimentality (Lancaster/Manchester/London, 2009-10), and Anthropocene Monument (Toulouse, 2014-2015).

Dr Emma Roe (BSc PhD) is Associate Professor in Human Geography in the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton. She is a leading trans-disciplinary scholar that develops from her core concerns as a social and cultural geographer in more-than-human geographies. Since her early PhD work on embodied consumption practices she has worked creatively to apprehend the affordances of the non-human world through inviting its participation in research. More recently she has drawn on these experiences to develop the ‘becoming ecological citizenship methodology’ (Roe and Buser 2016) with performance artist Dr Paul Hurley that has featured in public engagement and participatory research including AHRC funded Foodscapes (2016) and Man Food (2017-18); Wellcome Trust funded Animal Research Nexus (2017-ongoing) and EPSRC Mapping Microbes (2016). She co-edited Participatory research in more-than-human worlds(2017, Routledge) with Bastian, Jones and Moore and is co-author of Food and Animal Welfare with Buller (2018, Bloomsbury).

Malaika Cunningham is a theatre practitioner and PhD candidate based at the University of Leeds working within the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity with Professor Kate Oakley. Her research focus is currently on democracy and theatre. Specifically, the role of participatory theatre projects in creating spaces for political discourse, exchange between strangers and imagination. She has also written on STEM vs STEAM education, political engagement and participatory arts, and the politics of co-production. In her research, she brings together her practice as a theatre maker and her academic background in political theory. Alongside her research she is Artistic Director of The Bare Project, with whom she is currently developing The People’s Palace of Possibility, an interactive installation about utopia, seeing ourselves as citizens and political change.



Doreen Massey Day Event 2019

The Open University, Hawley Crescent, Camden Lock 27th June 2019

Environmental engagement and the politics of creative practice.

10.00 – Registration / Coffee

10.30 - Introduction David Chapman

10.35 – 11.50 Session 1 Theorising environment, democracy and creative practice

What might arts-based and creative practices contribute to forms of public engagement and how do these practices fit conceptually into an expanded environmental politics?

Dr Julian Brigstocke

Dr Marit Hammond

Dr George Revill

11.50 – 13.05 Session 2 Art practice, environment and Politics

What are the most important political issues raised by the practice of arts based creative engagement? How do these politics enable and constrain possibilities for environmental politics?

Dr Andrew Hewitt

David Buckland

Dr Stephen Pritchard

13.05 – 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 15.15 Session 3 Working with creative engagement

How can arts-based and creative practices help engage publics around complex environmental issues? Where and how can creative engagement practices bet play a role in co-creating environmental knowledge?

Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski

Dr Emma Roe -  Foodscapes

Malaika Cunningham -  On Liminality

Sounding Coastal Change Team

15.30 – 16.45 Discussion / Conclusions


Professor Nigel Clark

Professor Tim Collins

16.45 – 17.45 Wine Reception