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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Blue Futures Gathering

O'Hara, Suzy (2023) Blue Futures Gathering. In: Blue Futures Gathering, 29 November 2023, National Centre for the Written Word. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)


A one day, in-person and free event curated and delivered by Suzy O'Hara. The event brought curators, artists and thinkers from across Europe, the United Kingdom and the North east region together with cultural managers, marine biologists, environmental specialists and policy makers, to share emerging environmentally-conscious creative practices that deepen understanding of our relationship with our natural world.

Speakers examined the inherent value systems, shifting roles and developing working practices and protocols that foreground care and equity with water and the sea through art-making and curatorship. In doing so, we hope to collectively question how we can co-develop common values and sustainable ways to live with our blue environments.

The symposium formed part of the Blue Futures exhibition at The Word (20 July – 1 December 2023).

Blue Futures Gathering - Speakers
Irini Papadimitriou (UK/S.Korea)
Irini Papadimitriou is a curator and cultural manager, whose practice draws on interdisciplinary and critical discourse to explore the impact of technology in society and culture, and the role of art in helping us engage with contemporary issues.

In 2023 Irini was appointed by the Busan Biennale Organizing Committee as the Artistic Director for the Sea Art Festival 2023 in Busan. Titled Flickering Shores, Sea Imaginaries, the Sea Art Festival 2023 is an invitation to question, interrogate, but also rethink and reimagine our relationships with the sea, and marine environments. The exhibition programme is exploring alternative frameworks and visions for engaging with marine environments, while critically examining ocean colonisation, and extractivist practices. She is currently the Creative Director at FutureEverything, and was previously Digital Programmes Manager at the V&A, and Head of New Media Arts Development at Watermans.

Irini has been a recipient of curatorial research programmes including M0BIUS (Finnish Institute), Art Fund Jonathan Ruffer, Mondriaan Fonds and British Council. Irini has served as a jury member for Prix Ars Electronica (Interactive Art, Interactive Art+, Artificial Intelligence & Life Art), D&AD Awards, Lumen Prize, STARTS, Share Prize and ACM Siggraph (Distinguished Life Time Achievement in Digital Art).

Alice Sharp (UK)
Alice Sharp set up art and environmental organisation ‘ Invisible Dust’ in 2009, working with leading artists and scientists ‘making the invisible visible’ producing ambitious contemporary artworks exploring our environment and climate change. Alice is a prominent international speaker on the importance of the arts and science to climate, including in 2023 presenting at the British Council ‘Circular Cultures’ Athens, Columbia University New York, previously ‘Insider Magazine’ USA event attracting 85,000 viewers worldwide, at Davos and for the UN Development Programme.

Recent commissions include ‘Breathe’ by Dryden Goodwin, worked with Rosamund Adoo Kissi Debra whose daughter died from air pollution and reached 13 million people. ‘Forecast’ explored future climate stories with Ben Okri and Raqs Media Collective. Invisible Dust marine projects include ‘Wild Eye’ ongoing with Ryan Gander and Juneau Projects in Scarborough 2021-25, ‘Why we see the sea’ with Margaret Salmon and Ed Web-Ingall in the Isle of Arran 2018, ‘Offshore: Artists Explore the Sea’ Hull City of Culture 2017 and ‘For Now We See’ in Newcastle by Mariele Neudecker in 2014. Alice is currently curating ‘Climate Clock’ for Oulu European City of Culture 2026 and ‘Forecast India’.

Helena Pérez (ES)
Helena Pérez is the Project Coordinator at the Quo Artis Foundation, an international nonprofit organisation, based in Barcelona, dedicated to fostering linkages among the realms of art, science, and ecology, serving as a conduit between professionals in these domains. As a key partner in the international cooperation project, A Sea Change (spanning from June 2022 to May 2024), Quo Artis curates and produces activities aimed to foster creative innovation within the Blue Economy through interdisciplinary and intermedia arts, as well as artistic and curatorial research .

In 2023, Helena curated the symposium Troubled Blue, featuring contributions from 18 experts spanning disciplines that ranged from economics, art, design, film, marine literature, philosophy and environmental sciences, as well a workshop with environmental sculptor Joaquín Jara, encouraging participants to reflect on endangered natural environments near the Delta of Llobregat's river.

As the project approaches its culmination next year, Helena is set to co-curate the project’s final exhibition, facilitate a roundtable discussion, and oversee the editing and production of the project's final publication. Her active involvement remains instrumental in driving A Sea Change toward the realization of its goals, encompassing sustainable cultural practices, and the fostering of critical innovations within coastal economies.

Justine Boussard (FR/UK)
Justine Boussard is a curator and producer with over a decade’s experience working on design and craft exhibitions, artist-led public engagement and creative programming with clients including the Crafts Council, Design Museum, Jane Withers and UP Projects. As ‘the Amateur Ancestor’, she develops museum guided tours and other creative programmes designed to nurture multigenerational empathy through interaction with our natural and industrial heritage. This research enquiry, which aims to inspire positive action towards social and climate justice, was awarded an Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice Grant in 2022. She is a graduate from the V&A/RCA MA History of Design (2012) and an associate of Climate Museum UK.

Her collaborative projects have focused on regenerative economics (‘Non Pavilion’ installation with Studio MiCat, George Proud and Sarah Turner, 2019 (Dezeen awards finalist)), ecocentric design (‘Designing London National Park City’ audiojourney with Sarah Turner and Deborah Ridley 2020) and the intersection of Crafts and the Commons (‘Walsall Road Allotments Token’, with Alice McLean, 2020, now part of the Birmingham Museum Trust permanent collection).

twitter: @JustineBoussard @AmateurAncestor

Cliona Harmey (IRE)
Cliona Harmey has long been inspired by locations close to water and the technologies and processes which relate to maritime space. In 2015 she made a major public artwork "Dublin Ships" which used live shipping data from Dublin Port. This artwork displayed the names of most recently arrived and departed ships in real-time on two billboards at a major intersection in Dublin City. The work which generated a type of real time poetic writing was designed to be seen by commuters over a long period of time and was in situ for nine months.

In her wider practice Cliona uses hands-on artistic practice to try to understand systems such as communications, logistics, mapping and transport technologies. She takes inspiration from historical and contemporary narratives around processes such as shipping, flag signalling, radio and aerial views. In her work she is interested in finding different ways of making elements of ephemeral/ live information/data more concrete or tangible through sculpture, software, film, photography and electronics. She currently also works collaboratively with artist Filip Berte (berte&harmey) using expanded forms of mapping to explore locations at the intersections of local and global politics.

Cliona works at a variety of scales from large-scale public art (Dublin Ships 2015) to video and system based works for gallery and off-site exhibitions. She is also a lecturer and teaches in the Fine Art Media Dept at NCAD, Dublin. Cliona has a BA in Sculpture (NCAD), HDIP Computer Science (UCD), and an MA in Visual Practices (IADT).

Craig Ames (UK)
Craig Ames is a British artist with an interest in expanded forms of evidence, simulation, and representation in the post-photography / post-truth era. Encompassing these interconnected themes, he has a diverse practice and work with a range of media, including photography, generative AI, text, and sourced, online material.

In recent years, his practice has focussed on artificial intelligence imaging and the growing ethical concerns we are currently witnessing with the mainstream adoption of increasingly powerful generative AI systems. As a result of working with AI platforms and digital technologies, Ames is developing a growing interest in sustainable self-publishing and exploring more eco-friendly alternatives to exhibiting photographic works in various contexts.

His recent generative AI works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at Earth Photo (UK); Copenhagen Photo Festival (Denmark); Landskrona Foto (Sweden); Format - International Photography Festival (UK); Currents New Media - Art & Technology Festival (USA), and Lishui Photography Festival (China). Ames is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at University of Sunderland.

Di Mainstone (UK)
Di is a multi-award-winning filmmaker. She writes and directs films that feature her inventions, sculptures, and costumes and focus on issues such as climate justice, re-wilding, and forgotten women’s histories. Di's climate inspired art film Time Bascule, commissioned by London’s Tower Bridge, has won multiple international awards. Her films have been funded by the City of London Corporation, WITCiH, ACE, British Council, BFI. Di's work has been exhibited and performed at Southbank Centre, Tower Bridge, Roundhouse, National Portrait Gallery, Swedish National Touring Theatre, Barbican, The Sage, V&A, and more.

Di Mainstone is also a multi-disciplinary artist. Fascinated with the human form, she creates body-centric devices ranging from wearable musical instruments to interactive public realm sculptures and large-scale audio-visual installations. Working with cross-sector collaborators, Di explores how digital technologies and physical materials can inspire us to move expressively and connect with our environment through a multi-sensory lens. Di's most acclaimed works are the Human Harp, a digital musical device that transformed Brooklyn Bridge into a giant harp, and an audio-visual environment called Soundpit which was a sellout success at Southbank Centre.

Louise Mackenzie (UK)
Louise Mackenzie is an artist and researcher based in Newcastle, UK. She lectures in Contemporary Art Practice at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, holds a BA(Hons) in Psychology from the University of Strathclyde, a BA(Hons) in Fine Art from the University of Newcastle and a Ph.D. in Fine Art from the University of Northumbria and BALTIC Institute for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University. Working across mediums and often engaging with fields outside of the cultural sector, her interdisciplinary research focuses on arts’ relationship to the environment and explores human-nonhuman relationships, articulated through process, chance, appropriation and translation. Working collaboratively, Mackenzie has created live genetic modification sound performances, public conversations with future species, techniques for listening to microbes and the translation of 100-year-old dust into a composition for church organ.

Current work includes BE THE SEA, a participatory project commissioned by SeaScapes CoLab, that investigates listening techniques as a strategy for developing more-than-human sense among coastal communities. Mackenzie is a director at ASCUS Art & Science in Edinburgh, co-founder and curator of interdisciplinary sculptural cinema, Black Box a joint Northumbria University and Newcastle University project, and co-founder of the interdisciplinary community for research in human/animal relationships, Alive Together supported by the University of Porto.

WHIST Choir - BE THE SEA Experimental Work in Progress
BE THE SEA are currently working in collaboration with the choir at Women’s Health in South Tyneside (WHiST) led by musical director Jude Murphy, and developing an improvisational live performance based on experiences of engaging with the sounds of the sea. The team are delighted to be able to share their work in progress of this performance with you for the BLUE FUTURES Gathering.

Paul Dolan (UK)
Paul Dolan is an artist and Assistant Professor at Northumbria University. His research adopts a critical approach to digital technologies and environment, using a combination of practice-based, social science and fieldwork-based methods. Dolan is member of the Cultural Negotiation of Science research group, Cosmotechnics artists group and since 2020 has worked with political ecologist Dr Pete Howson, Northumbria University.

Dolan‘s work prompts questions about the sustainability of contemporary digital culture whilst also pointing towards the messy ways in which digital processes are entangled within human, non-human, material and virtual networks.

Shelly Knotts (UK)
Shelly Knotts is an independent artist-researcher who improvises with computers and other humans. Interests in code, data and networks have led her down strange and diverse musical paths, from electroacoustic composition through jazz and noise music to algorave. She experiments with generative and AI techniques and opinionated algorithms to make music. She has performed worldwide, and in 2017 was a winner of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and PRSF’s Oram Award for innovation in sound and music. Previously she was an academic, researching on the use of AI, data and networks in improvisation and composition and related social themes.

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Depositing User: Suzy O'Hara


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Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2024 14:47
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2024 14:47


Author: Suzy O'Hara ORCID iD

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Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Art and Design

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