[The Welsh noun Egin means buds or shoots]
“It’s the job of the artist to interrogate the society in which that person exists, and with something like climate change, which is monumental, so huge, something that is affecting everybody, it is a societal problem as much as it is a scientific one.“
Egin participant Jon Berry
(writer from Wales)
“We don’t provide solutions, but we provide a dialogue, create narratives and probably give new perspectives. I think that’s what arts should be.“
Egin participant Xenson
(performance poet from Uganda)
In July 2019 I was invited to be one of the international artists at Egin – a two week artists residency in Snowdonia, north Wales in response to the climate crisis. Artists across genres from Wales along with one each from India, Bangladesh, Australia and Uganda spent a fortnight in the breath-taking landscape of Snowdonia, having deep conversations with specialists from climatology, activism, forestry, agriculture and more, and interacting with the local community over meetings, visits, village fiestas, and meals. Long walks, river swims, reflective afternoons in the sunshine saw an outpouring of artistic responses from poetry to weaving to performance pieces to a community gathering around a campfire. It is one of the best imagined and implemented residencies I have come across.
Egin was a curated artists residency, hosted by National Theatre Wales, in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, The National Trust, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the British Council. The residency was held in Capel Curig in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.
Climate change is the most urgent issue of our times and will affect every single one of us and the generation to come. It is important to look at the holistic whole and (re)imagine our shared futures together; how we connect and how we communicate ideas with each other. Egin aimed to kick-start fresh artistic responses, to inform new practice, imagine possible futures, and inspire sustainable approaches to living.
Read more on Egin
The first three days of Egin comprised research trips exploring local histories, landscapes and practices. We met with historians, activists, farmers, forestry experts, rural planners, and discovered the intricate interconnectedness of colonial legacies, quarrying, tourism, economy, crop forests, sheep-farming regulations, water management, ecology, adventure sports, consumerism and much more. We ended with an open workshop with a local school working through these knotty ideas and problems with the next generation.
The rest of the time was self-directed, allowing all us artists to absorb the information and experiences we had shared, and let responses emerge without pressure. These responses ranged from making a raft from scratch, building a community gathering hut and space, writing and performing poetry, weaving with sheep wool and found items and more.
Slotted in-between were four climate conversations open to the local community centring around Land, Money, Rebellion and Hope: more inspiration and stimulation that worked itself into our collective consciousness.
My Responses: landscape interventions
I responded with four performance interventions built around the idea of walking slowly, deliberately and compassionately through different landscapes. Three other artists (Ruth Stringer, Emily Laurens and Lisa Hudson) collaborated to create (or lend in the case of the slate dress) outfits that helped reveal what lay hidden, ignored or potentially in those landscapes:
- a bark outfit in a river
- an outfit of single-use plastic on a denuded hillside
- a slate dress in a beech wood
- a fern-bracken dress in a slate quarry
The Egin Brigade
All photographs on this page are by Egin artists-in-residence, and others closely associated with the whole project.