Free Public Lecture: Poetic Technologies: Exploring Hebridean renewable energy production through poetry- sculpture collaboration; Lila Matsumoto, University of Nottingham

November 15 14.00-16.00

Commons 226, Newton Park Campus

Lila Matsumoto, University of Nottingham:

Poetic Technologies: Exploring Hebridean renewable energy production through poetry- sculpture collaboration

This talk centres around the question: what special knowledge can poetry give us about our natural and built environments? Over the last two years, I have worked with visual artist Hannah Imlach to explore how the conceptualisation and processes of sculpture-making can galvanise the writing and reading of poetry. Our collaboration has taken us to two locations in the Hebrides, the isle of Eigg and the Monach Islands in the Outer Hebrides, to learn from local models of renewable energy production that benefit communities physically as well as socially. In my talk, I will share some of the outcomes of these fieldtrips, before moving on to discuss poetics as a technology which holds out the potential of reconfiguring everyday experience. I will draw on the work of Val Plumwood, Nicole Boivin, and Gaston Bachelard to bolster my thinking about poetry’s coalescence with matter, and the ways in which poetry can engage with environmental thought.

Lila Matsumoto is a poet, researcher, and lecturer in poetry at the University of Nottingham. Her poetry pamphlets include Soft Troika (If a Leaf Falls Press) and Allegories from my Kitchen (Sad Press). A collection of poetry, Urn and Drum, is forthcoming from Shearsman in 2018. Lila is interested experimental forms of production and performance of poetry, and often collaborates with visual and sound art practitioners. Her current research explores the theme of women’s work and gendered divisions of artistic labour. Lila co-edits the poetry and arts magazine FRONT HORSE ( and is a member of the music collective Food People.

Bookings here

This  free public lecture is jointly presented by Intercultural Communication through Practice Research Group from 

Future Pasts project film shortlisted for Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards

A film made by the Future Pasts research project  led by Professor Sian Sullivan of the Bath Spa University Research Centre for Environmental Humanities has been shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards.

The film ‘The Damara King’s Festival’ was made in collaboration with Namibian film organisation Mamokobo, the Damara King’s Festival Organising Committee, and UK academic partners at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for African Studies.

DAMARA KING’S FESTIVAL 2016 (29 mins) from Future Pasts on Vimeo.

The film, recently showcased  in the exhibition ‘Future Pasts: Landscape, Memory and Music in West Namibia’, has made the shortlist for the International Development Award.

Hundreds of films were submitted for the Awards this year and the overall winner for each category, who will receive £2,000 towards their filmmaking, will be announced at a special ceremony at 195 Piccadilly in London, home of BAFTA, on 9 November.

Launched in 2015, the Research in Film Awards celebrate short films, up to 30 minutes long, that have been made about the arts and humanities and their influence on our lives.

There are five categories in total with four of them aimed at the research community and one open to the public.

Principal Investigator for the Future Pasts research project, Sian Sullivan, said:

‘We are delighted at this news. This is the first filmed record of a unique event in which music, dance and oratory combine to honour Damara pasts, presents and cultural landscapes. Blending long-term ethnographic research with the visual intuition of Namibian film-maker Andrew Botelle, the film offers a window into an intimate celebration of identity by a rich but historically marginalised indigenous culture. This recognition will help us to share the film more widely within Namibia, and to support the Festival Organising Committee in future events.’

Mike Collins, Head of Communications at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: ‘The standard of filmmaking in this year’s Research in Film Awards has been exceptionally high and the range of themes covered span the whole breadth of arts and humanities subjects.

‘While watching the films I was impressed by the careful attention to detail and rich storytelling that the filmmakers had used to engage their audiences. The quality of the shortlisted films further demonstrates the endless potential of using film as a way to communicate and engage people with academic research. Above all, the shortlist showcases the art of filmmaking as a way of helping us to understand the world that we live in today.

A team of judges watched the longlisted films in each of the categories to select the shortlist and ultimately the winner. Key criteria included looking at how the filmmakers came up with creative ways of telling stories – either factual or fictional – on camera that capture the importance of arts and humanities research to all of our lives.

Judges for the 2017 Research in Film Awards include Richard Davidson-Houston of Channel 4 Television, Lindsay Mackie Co-founder of Film Club and Matthew Reisz from Times Higher Education.

The winning films will be shared on the Arts and Humanities Research Council website and YouTube channel. On 9 November you’ll be able to follow the fortunes of the shortlisted films on Twitter via the hashtag #RIFA2017.

Our next public lecture: Merle Patchett; University of Bristol; School of Geographical Sciences; From Sexual Selection to Sex And The City: The Biogeographies of the Blue Bird-Of-Paradise; Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm 


Merle Patchett; University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 

Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm inc discussion, wine and snacks; Newton Park Campus; Commons Building; Room 225; this is a free event but please book a place through Bath Spa Live here 

Abstract. This paper takes as its starting point an encounter with a preserved blue bird-of-paradise skin. Though rare, the bird became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during Sex and the City: The Movie. For those handling bird-of-paradise skins the ethereal beauty and luxurious quality of their plumage is immediately felt, making it easy to understand why birds-of-paradise have “for millennia been ornaments, commodities and gifts”. [i]  Yet as Darwin’s theory of sexual selection tells us, the birds’ exuberant plumage evolved entirely for their own pleasure. This paper will therefore chart the blue bird-of-paradise’s biogeographies of excess: from sexual selection to Sex and the City. Tracing the lively geographies of this dead bird from New Guinea rainforests to New York streets offers the opportunity of narrating collective natural and cultural change over time and space. This is because the blue bird-of-paradise can be thought of as a “telling example” of the millions of Paradisaea that were hunted, traded, shipped and lusted after since their earliest forms of commodification. Moreover, with the Paradisaea now said to be on a “flight to oblivion” the paper will conclude by outlining how the blue bird-of-paradise offers a way of working towards transspecies histories and therefore multispecies recuperation.


Merle Patchett is a cultural-historical geographer by training. Her research broadly focuses on theories, histories, and geographies of practice. This focus has led her to engage empirically with a range of specialised skills (e.g. taxidermy and plumasserie), practitioners (e.g. artisans, artists and architects), and places of practice (e.g. museums, galleries and archives) and to develop practice-based methodologies. See Merle’s staff pages here

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