Newton Harrison - On The Deep Wealth of this Nation, Scotland


On The Deep Wealth of this Nation: A vision for Scotland.

The Barn is honoured to be working with internationally acclaimed artist Newton Harrison, who along with his late wife Helen Mayer, has been a leading figure in global arts ecology since the 1960’s. Work with the Harrison Studio and the Centre for the Study of the Force Majeure will form the core of the Barn’s Art & Ecology programme for 2017-21, and will engage with environmental agencies, farming, fishing, forestry, government, academia, local communities and the creative sector. This iteration of the Arts and Ecology programme is supported by the James Hutton Institute and SEFARI network.

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Image by Graeme MacDonald 2017

The Dee and Don Catchment Areas – Creating Resilience to Climate Change

What are we trying to achieve?

We are accustomed to seeing ourselves as a human species at the centre of a set of interests that the environment serves. This has brought about an undermining of the ecosystems upon which we depend. Can we imagine ourselves as one species among many, working with values and forms of action based on understanding Life as a whole?

Why here?

We have invited the Harrison Studio, Santa Cruz, California ( to develop a programme of work over 2-3 years to help us address this aim in relation to the place in which we live. This is founded on the premise that if we start here, from our own deep knowledge and understanding of this place, we will learn more and be better able to transfer our learning to other contexts.

Why the Harrison Studio?

Invited by governments, organisations and individuals, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison, ecology artists and systems thinkers, have over the past fifty years examined the eco-culture of specific places under threat. In response, they create work that traces the interconnectedness of living systems reimagining a place within a much larger ‘field’ of relations and interdependencies. This work is consequently about creating a vision in the long term that will support new thinking and ways of being. They frame this work through two important questions: How big is here? How long is now?

Why is the Barn hosting this programme?

The Barn is Aberdeenshire’s largest rural multi-arts centre and has, over the past two decades, developed a special interest in art and ecology as well as a commitment to low carbon footprint. It currently supports the largest community allotment development in Scotland, a wild garden and a yet-to-be developed walled physic garden, building biodiversity and supporting programmes of work that address environmental issues. Partnering the Barn is an independent slow food café, Buchanan’s Bistro, who share the same interests in ecology and green principles.

The Barn plays a key role in supporting artists to make work inspired by our location and context. Increasingly, the organisation has sought to work with associate artists over a number of years as a means of delivering more significant outcomes for both artists and communities.

Who will help facilitate the project?

Lorraine Grant, the Barn’s Director. Formerly a visual arts curator with over 15 years experience managing Cultural Services departments within several Scottish Local Authorities.

Mark Hope, Co-founder of Woodend Arts and Sound Festival. Formerly a director in the oil industry in the 1990/2000s and a member of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Sub Committee on Sustainability (2000-2).

Anne Douglas co-founder of On the Edge Research with Chris Fremantle, investigating the role of the artist in public life, including art and ecology.

Chris Fremantle is a Research Fellow at Gray's School of Art and established ecoartscotland to support research and practice. He was Producer for the Harrisons’ Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2006 - 2009).

Marc Stutter is a Senior Scientist at the James Hutton Institute and his research focuses on catchments systems thinking.

Support and acknowledgement

The James Hutton Institute is a well-respected and globally recognised research organisation delivering fundamental and applied science to drive the sustainable use of land and natural resources. It is also part of SEFARI, the collective of six world-leading Scottish Research Institutes working on Environment, Food, Agriculture, Land Use, Rural Economy, Communities, Animal and Plant Disease, Biodiversity, Nutrition and more.

Further reading and documentation of the project so far as well as upcoming events can be found here

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