Maw Macaws, No More Saws

Update: On Sunday 6th October, Catherine and I ran the workshop again with the community based at St James, Piccadilly as part of their Harvest Festival. Another 26 participants contributed their own interpretations of our picture.

If you would like to host the workshop, please get in touch!

Tate Exchange

Offered the opportunity at Tate Exchange, colleague Catherine Herbert and I, wanted to raise awareness of habitat loss and the impact of humans on the natural world which is causing the Sixth Great Extinction of species currently underway; the first to be caused by an Earth based species.

After discussion over the Christmas holidays, we settled on an approach which would invite participants to co-create a work with us by creating an artwork after Andy Warhol – bold colours & repetition.  Research brought us to Macaws, which I had seen in the Peruvian jungle when I visited to study fresh-water river dolphins in 2000 and to Brazil, where the recent swearing in of ne President Jair Bolsonaro, who is committed to cutting down rainforest for agriculture is causing huge concern.

So we worked on a macaw-based work which was displayed A0 size at the workshop and which we had cut up into 90 pieces.  We asked participants to vote on the relative importance of the democratic process which had led to Bolsonaro’s election and the inherent rights of Nature and indigenous peoples.  And we offered them the opportunity to interpret their piece of the work on a paper-covered tile four times its size.

Originally scheduled for three hours on Saturday 19th January, popular demand ensured a five hour stint.  95 people contributed to the re-made work which was finally finished!  The enthusiasm, concentration and talent of participants ranging in age from one to seventy was tremendous and we plan to extend the work at other venues, hoping to display the finished artwork in a public venue later this year.

A totally engaging experience from start to finish, we were delighted with the result.  Oh, and the final vote? 42 for the democratic process and 91 for the rights on nature and indigenous people!

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©2020 Phil Barton