The Courtyard of IMMA is a very special place, with its own complex history as the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham. It is also a place that hosts many possibilities for the present and the future of the building, through performances and music, to the simple act of having a cup of tea with a friend in the colonnades. As the Earth Rising Eco-Festival was planned for Autumn 2022, I wanted to make a work that aligned with this important event, allowing me to explore new psychological states that have emerged in response to a greater awareness of global and local climate change. As the Courtyard is a public space, I wanted the work that I made in it to be driven by a collaborative process with members of the public who are part of IMMA’s community.
One of the influences on my research was the book Earth Emotions (2019) by Glenn Albrecht, which looks at creating new terms for the complex emotions and feelings that people encounter in relation to climate change, suggesting words such as Solastalgia and Biophilia as expressions of psychological states directly linked to the environment. Whilst the book looked at many negative feelings such as depression, anger, anxiety and apathy, there was also a lot of space dedicated to the importance of being able to move through these difficult emotions, accessing feelings of agency and possibility, and even finding love and reverence for the Earth.
My second influence for the project was Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater’s Thought Forms (1901). These two members of the Theosophist Society conducted a series of experiments to generate colours and shapes to express emotions as objects in the world. This very interior work, done through the medium of clairvoyance, gave rise to a series of images but also a colour palette that has influenced many artists over the years. It became clear to me that there might be a way to use this method of the Thought Forms to encourage a way to make new colours and images about climate change that are driven by feelings rather than scientific data.
One of the major issues of addressing climate change is how we visually represent it. We rely heavily on photographs to evidence the drama of ecological degradation, but also on data-driven charts, informational diagrams and other schematic representations to describe something that is almost intangible in our everyday lives. During my research period I collected many data visualizations and graphs about climate change, and stripped these images of their content (numbers and words) leaving them as simple line drawings that could be repopulated in our workshops to make new visual representations of our emotional relationship to climate crisis.