Cultural Reforesting

Cultural Reforesting

Orleans House Gallery

May 24, 2023
Cultural Reforesting
How can we renew our relationship with nature?
May 24, 2023–March 31, 2024, 10am
Orleans House Gallery
Orleans Road
Twickenham TW1 3BL
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm

T +44 20 8831 6000
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“Cultural Reforesting” is a provocation set by a London Local Authority, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. With artists we are exploring the admission that the West has a broken relationship with nature, and this is the root of the ecological crises that will define the 21st century. We have made a ten-year commitment to this provocation, and are looking to artists, cross-cultural voices, transdisciplinary pioneers and the more-than-human world to lead us through this epoch.

“Cultural Reforesting—how can we renew our relationship with nature?” orbits around a remarkable cultural space, Orleans House Gallery, London’s wild gallery, with a humming riverside woodland. The artist-led, interdisciplinary series of public research projects seek expansive and paradigm-shifting methodologies that can infiltrate and transform our routines, our everyday thoughts, deeds and interactions. Artists, such as Ackroyd & Harvey, Bryony Benge-Abbott, Nestor Pestana and Andrew Merritt are immersing communities in new possibilities, giving agency to the more-than-human species which have equal rights to the world around them.

Orleans House Gallery represents a ground zero for the ecological crisis. A colonial building in an urban environment; a woodland with international species, from parakeets to a sea of cow parsley; a local government run site evolving through the expanse of contemporary art; a site in one of the most polluted cities in the world which witnesses the river Thames flood to its gates on a daily basis. It is an ultimate confluence of the ecological crises conversation. A place to renew a relationship with nature, as part of nature.

Our hope-full programme is a Local Authority approach to our ecological crises and therefore provides a profound opportunity for deep impact, and to create a model for how local governments might allow for communities to create lasting change, to influence policy-making, and to come together around the beauty of our relationships with all the species around us. Artists and council teams will be looking at dark skies, increased climate-related flooding, training related to kinship, and ideas of net zero.

Supermarketforest—Andrew Merritt
One half of Something & Son, Andrew Merritt is bringing his subversion of modern society’s relationship with nature to Orleans House Gallery. Taking on the destructive hyper-industrialised food landscape, from growing to supermarkets, the exhibition asks how might our foodways create flourishing ecosystems? Part-temple, part-supermarket, part-ecosystem builder the gallery-wide installation and artist research project will share seed sculptures across the cultural landscape, locally and further afield. The seed sculptures utilise the Three Sisters planting methodology to demonstrate the need to think of harmonious biodiversity in our food and medicine. The exhibition has been developed with Dr. Sarah Edwards, an ethnobotanist from Oxford University, interdisciplinary collaboration from St Mary’s university, and further funding from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Play: Make: Art—Abigail Hunt
Artist, Abigail Hunt, is leading very young people on an exploration of our natural environments. Each workshop is an opportunity to engage with the natural world and learn how it is also a participant. Some sessions take children and their accompanying adults on an exploratory artistic walk in the woods. Others transform our workshop space into an installation that communicates with nature. Abigail carefully curates materials that enable children to respond in their own way. The result is an open-ended shared creative experience. The workshops support communication between adults and children, helping with early skills development, co-ordination and social interaction. They are also a learning tool to help understand how to love and respect nature.

Kinship Workshops—Katye Coe and Thomas Goodwin
Dance artists Katye Coe and Thomas Goodwin bring their embodied relational experience to the Borough. Through simply taking time and being mindful of movement in the woods, how might we be filled with the most profound relationships with other species? How might we express this relationship and find it filling us through our everyday experiences and routines? Katye and Tom will be carrying out workshops, fireside conversations and research with experts in psychology, art and botany to evolve the Kinship Workshop and Training, before carrying out training programmes for the Local Authority and more.

Voices of the Ecosystem
The woodland at Orleans House Gallery is an expanding library of voices and sounds elaborating on the ideas surrounding Cultural Reforesting. Using the Echoes mobile app wanderers can access a range of ecosystem experts from Liisa Holmberg, a Saami elder, to Monica Gagliano and artists Ackroyd and Harvey. Hear soaring ideas whilst walking among cedars, oaks and parakeets. Included with these is music by film soundtrack composer Dimitri Scarlato, The Tale of the Cedar of Lebanon, and a sound work by Ana Heilbron featuring imagined memories of ecosystems around the world, Memory of Sound. Eden Spence’s Vigil convinces you to spend time with the remnants of a Black Poplar tree, slowly returning to the earth.

For more information, including partnership opportunities, contact Programmer Andy Franzkowiak, andy.franzkowiak [​at​]

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Orleans House Gallery
May 24, 2023

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