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

The Project
Cf Dee Don Interdisciplinary Map

Initial sketch by Chris Fremantle, Aug 2017

The Project

“Scotland is uniquely placed among industrialised nations to lead on the carbon issue: low population, access to land, clean air, water and forests for intense carbon sequestration, substantial scientific research and supportive communities of interest prepared to undertake action”

Newton Harrison Feb 2018

The Deep Wealth of This Nation, Scotland is an original vision to see how one small country can mobilize as a nation to be the first industrialised country to move past the carbon cycle and become the first nation to give more to the global environment, which the Harrisons call the Life Web, than it consumes. This vision, informed by an interdisciplinary network of contributors hosted in ongoing discussions, takes form as a poem. This poem transcends political and social boundaries and encourages the possibility of collective action at all levels in society.


Deep Wealth began, true to the conversational form developed over many years by the Harrisons, as a call and response. The Barn invited Newton Harrison to consider a work that would address the Dee and Don catchment area in the wake of recent floods. The response was to look to the Dee and Don watersheds, observing how they join on either side of the city, and ‘let them tell us what to do’ (link for quote). So the twin watersheds became a model through which to sketch a larger vision described above and pictured as a set of beautifully realized maps that grow from the initial guiding metaphor of the poem that accompanies them.

In this way the work suggests a dialogue between place, poem and future possibilities. It invites us to consider the future through a revaluing process that imagines several fundamental commons that we share: Water, Forest, Air and Topsoil. Finally, Deep Wealth also suggests a commons of Mind. This last hints at the processes employed to arrive at the meta-level in poetics and philosophy, the work on the ground initiating interdisciplinary discussions with, amongst others, scientists, farmers, planners and foragers. These movements inbetween different perspectives gather together voices and an active citizens’ network that contribute to these first sketches and are ongoing.

By August of 2017 Newton Harrison had begun research, setting up an network of growing expertise and opening a public discussion with local and national communities of interest. The opening discussion, which also delved into his larger practice can be viewed HERE.

Recent events

Just under a year later in March 2018 the Barn hosted the launch of Newton’s Vision for Scotland. The event premiered a short film and an exhibition of six art works which elaborate the poem, created by Newton Harrison and the Centre for the Study of the Force Majeure. The film is HERE and the artworks are shown in the image gallery above.

The event was attended by 80 people in the Barn with Newton streamed live from California via a ZOOM webinar. 19 people from Europe and the USA also joined the discussion via webinar.

A short film of the evening is HERE. The whole ZOOM webinar is available HERE.

Newton The Barn 2

On 19 September the Barn hosted a Presentation and discussion with Newton Harrison at the Botanic Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

A short recording of the discussion at the Royal Botanic Gardens is available to watch here:

Newton Images Lowrez 135
Presentation and discussion with Newton Harrison, Botanic Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

The full recording of the discussion at the Royal Botanic Gardens is available to watch here:

Newton And The Dee 1 Edit
Full presentation and discussion with Newton Harrison, Botanic Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

And for a list of forthcoming events.

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