International Seminar on Artists and Ecology; Universitat Politècnica de València; Monday Junes 10th 2019


Clive Adams was born in London in 1947. He studied at Bath Academy of Art (1966-70) and at Brighton Polytechnic before becoming lecturer in printmaking and foundation studies at Derby College of Art (1971-74).

He was gallery co-ordinator at Arnolfini, Bristol (1974-79), then the largest contemporary arts complex outside London, and worked on the move to the present habourside location. He initiated and hosted a series of major exhibitions including Howard Hodgkin, Ed Ruscha (1975), Jan Dibbets, Richard Long (1976), Robert Smithson (1977) and Carel Visser, Boyd Webb (1978). Many of these exhibitions travelled to other major galleries in Britain.

As director of Mostyn Art Gallery (1979-85) he supervised the restoration of the gallery, built in 1901, establishing it as Wales’s leading public exhibition space. Particular major exhibitions included Barry Flanagan, Edward Hopper (1981), J D Innes, Augustus John and Derwent Lees (1982) and David Nash (1983). For the exhibition ‘Turner in Wales’ (1984) the gallery was given a Prince of Wales Award.

He returned to London as managing director of Fabian Carlsson Gallery (1985-89). This new commercial gallery dealt in international contemporary and modern art, including works by De Kooning, Miro, Picasso, Rauschenberg and Warhol. It also represented younger European, American and Japanese artists. He took particular responsibility for the work of Andy Goldsworthy and was closely involved in his projects in Japan and at the North Pole.

Since 1974, Clive Adams has been a member of various committees including the arts panels of South West Arts (1974-77) and North Wales Arts Association (1979-85), Executive Council, Welsh Sculpture Trust (1982-85) and Fine Art Advisory Committee, British Council (1983-85). He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art.

In Britain, he compiled the catalogue raisonnes of Andy Goldsworthy’s photographs (1989) and Peter Randall-Page’s sculpture (1992) for the Henry Moore Centre of the Study of Sculpture. In Japan, he co-ordinated the exhibition ‘Sun, Wind and Rain:the Awakening of British Landscape Painting’ (1992) with major loans from the Tate Gallery and other national collections. He was appointed one of the commissioners of Korea’s first international biennale (1995), being responsible for selecting work from the Middle East and African countries.

In 1997, he and his wife moved to Devon with the intention of establishing the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, devoted to exploring new understandings of our changing relationship to nature through the arts. In 2006 CCANW entered into a new partnership with the Forestry Commission in Haldon Forest Park nr. Exeter where it opened a Project Space. In 2013 it moved its base to the University of Exeter and Dr Daro Montag became Co-Director. From 2013-5 it delivered the ‘Soil Culture’ project, becoming the largest UK contribution to the UN International Year of Soils 2015.

Clive also held a Research Post at the University of Plymouth (1998-2002) and was Curator of Exhibitions for the South West of England Regional Development Agency (1999-2004). Curated exhibitions include ‘Love, Labour and Loss: 300 Years of British Livestock Farming in Art’, commissioned by Carlisle City Council for showings in Carlisle and Exeter (2002) and ‘The Impossible View?’ for The Lowry, the latter winning the Museums and Heritage Award for best UK temporary exhibition of 2003. He curated a second major exhibition for The Lowry ‘The Art of White’ (2006) and was one of the judges of the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2005.

Since 2016, CCANW has increasingly worked internationally and across disciplines. It is currently working with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea on the Science Walden project, and advises the new Global Network of Water Museums on its engagement with the arts.

Betsy Damon is an internationally recognized artist based in New York whose work with water, site-specific sculptures, and performance has received widespread acclaim and publication. Since 1985, she has focused on water and ecological issues. She created the Living Water Garden in Sichuan, China, a six-acre urban park that has become an icon of natural water-cleaning systems (see illustration). Betsy is the founder of the non-profit Keepers of the Waters, through which she promotes environmental education, ecological planning, community projects and advocacy worldwide.

Forty years ago, Betsy Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She began looking to her inner consciousness as a source of inspiration which initiated her public engagement, starting with gritty art performances on the New York City streets. She was engaged in the women’s movement of the 1970s, where she founded No Limits for Women Artists, a network to join and support female artists.

In 1985, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Betsy found herself reconnected to the primal elements of the natural world –the sound of wind, the flow of water, the forest, the rain. This initiated the casting of a 250-foot dry riverbed, The Memory of Clean Water, which brought her attention to the invisible destruction that development was having on water sources. In the early evening, while casting the riverbed, Betsy looked up to realize that the stones of the riverbed were patterned like the stars of the sky, that everywhere were the patterns of water. She committed herself to learning everything about water, little did she know that 27 years later she would still be deeply entrenched.

Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Betsy has continued to work towards creating community based models of water stewardship. Her work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures and workshops. In China, she created the nation’s first public art event for the environment, and most notably the Living Water Garden, a world renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the US, she is continuously working with communities and grassroots groups, as well as completing art/ design commissions.

Betsy Damon’s inspiration comes from extensive research of sacred water sites, and her curiosity for the biology and earth sciences that compose living systems. Always seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage communities in caring for this precious resource, Betsy continues her passion.

AMY SHARROCKS is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker who invites people to come on journeys in which their own experience, communication and expression are a vital part. Her work gives careful consideration to the impact we have on each other and the world.

For 10 years she has been investigating people and our relationship to water: floating boats on swimming pools, swimming across London, dowsing rivers and gathering donations for Museum of Water. Museum of Water was in Somerset House for summer 2014, has since toured to over 50 locations worldwide, and has been visited by over 65,000 people. The Museum has spent two years in The Netherlands and Western Australia and was nominated for European Museum of the Year 2016.

The first major survey of Sharrocks’ work took place at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum 2018-19, an acclaimed exhibition which gathered together photographs, sculptures, drawings, sonic and live works from over a decade of making. In 2014 Amy was one of 10 artists selected for Museums at Night; in 2015 she was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award. In 2017 she organised the Fry’s Island Swim, a swim for 80 in the Thames River in the heart of Reading, and is currently encouraging people to sign up to Swim the Thames, a swim across the river in London. She is currently writing against dryness, about the experience of water and cities.

Sharrocks makes a lot of work about falling, looking at our daily trips and stumbles, the precariousness of life. She explores feelings of risk, daring and shame, and questions our need to be UP. In 2013 she won the Sculpture Shock prize from the Royal British Society of Sculptors for her work on falling. Her writing has been published extensively now, in academic journals as well as magazines and books. Her films have been shown across Europe and the Middle East; she has two books on her own work – SWIM and Museum of Water – and her work appears in various collections: Playing for Time, Live Art Almanac 1 & 4, Walking’s New Movement.

She is an activist for women’s rights and co-curator of WALKING WOMEN, a series of events in London and Edinburgh across 2016 highlighting the work of women walking artists, and of DAYLIGHT, a collaborative artwork in the form of a newspaper, bringing focus to women’s art, thinking and speculations, launched at the Wellcome Collection in October      2018.  

Author: Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities, and I am Director of the University's Environmental Humanities Research Centre

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