Culture Minister opens new art and science exhibition at NMMS

A new art and science exhibition showcasing geoscience and the impact of climate change has been officially opened today by Jenny Gilruth MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development at National Mining Museum Scotland (NMMS) in Newtongrange. 

The Carbon Conflict and Climate Change exhibition, which will run until Spring 2022, is a collaboration between the NMMS and the British Geological Survey (BGS).

The exhibition will take viewers on a journey through a series of geoscience themes, showcasing how climate change affects our urban and natural environment focusing on the global transition away from fossil fuels, as a source of energy, towards a future of decarbonisation, connecting local and international cultures through art and science.

Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “Culture and the arts have a vital role to play in raising awareness about the climate emergency and I’m sure this inspiring exhibition will encourage people to consider how their individual behaviour or actions could change as a result.  

“One of the ambitions of our Culture Strategy is for the heritage and culture sectors to lead the conversation when it comes to our response to climate change. The way a wide range of partners have come together at the Midlothian Climate Beacon to create a legacy for the future is therefore really impressive.”

It will feature works by environmental artist and BGS soil hydrogeologist, Nicole Manley, whose work uses a combination of digital collage, clay sculpture, light and sound installation to generate connections between people and environment.  

Nicole Manley added: “It’s been extremely rewarding to take part in such an inspirational Scotland-wide collaboration and bring together shared scientific resources and knowledge through art.

“Sharing complex natural processes through an artistic dialogue, such as how the flow of water and the weather constantly transform our surrounding environment, has the ability to connect local and international audiences across different cultures and will help more people to engage intuitively with climate change and COP26, because it matters for our future.”

The exhibition forms part of the Creative Carbon Scotland-led Climate Beacon project. Seven Climate Beacons have been created across Scotland that combine cultural, heritage or arts organisations and climate or environmental organisations with an aim to stimulate long-term public engagement prior to and following COP26, taking place in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021.

Exhibition highlights include short films from scientists who reveal how our coastlines, glaciers, volcanoes, water, soils, rocks and building stones are all intrinsically affected by climate change.

Technology-led adaptations to climate change are also explored, through research themes relating to renewable energy, zero carbon cities and carbon storage.

Alongside these works, viewers will be able to see and take part in “Weathering Earth”, an on-going participatory art installation, inviting people to make a clay sculpture relating to climate change. The sculptures will be placed outside to be weathered over several days, before being brought back on display in the main exhibition to create one large installation from many small sculptures.

Tracy Shimmield, Executive Director, Lyell Centre at the British Geological Survey and Heriot Watt University said: “This exhibition breaths news life into the importance of geoscience for our natural environment and urban spaces in the face of climate change.

“Geoscience is essential to helping us monitor and understand natural earth processes and the impacts of climate change so that we can support practical solutions to adapt to a changing planet.

“We are very pleased to support Nicole’s vision, to share her talented works with visitors and encourage everyone to come and be inspired by what the geological record can tell us about climate change and some of the fascinating technological solutions that geologists are researching and developing to help us build a more sustainable, prosperous planet.”

It is hoped the combination of geoscience and environmental art will encourage transformative discussion about climate change through a series of workshops being held throughout the exhibition. The timings of the workshops will be advertised on the National Mining Museum Scotland’s website.

Mhairi Cross, CEO at NMMS said:

“We are delighted to work with BGS and Nicole as part of the Midlothian Climate Beacon project. Hosting this exhibition is exciting as it allows us to explore the challenges that climate change presents and to consider solutions on an individual and community level that can bring about positive change. Whilst we strive to learn from the past and tell the story of Scotland’s energy journey, NMMS is delighted to be given this platform and opportunity to focus on this challenging subject and important issues that are front and centre in the world right now. We hope this exhibition will allow visitors to learn, reflect, and consider their place within the climate change challenge.”



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