Ken Clarry

Artist

Website

2021 Visiting Fellow at University of Brighton, interdisciplinary study: The Environmental Impact of War and Conflict

2020 MPhil/PhD Research Study, 2012 MA Cultural History, Memory & Identity. University of Brighton

'My work is a combination of disciplines that uses aesthetic notions of making art alongside the research and analysis of key texts. Central to my current methodology is its focus on lens-based imagery that blends traditional forms of  art, photography, painting with digital/computer painting, montage and video.'

KC-earth.jpg

WE ARE NOT DROWNING - WE ARE FIGHTING
(DARK MATTER - FOSSIL FUELS: EARTH)

Digital painting, pencil and acrylic paint

The work submitted is taken from a new art project on which I am currently working, called; Dyscrasia – the environmental imbalance of essence. The idea is based on the Ancient Greek theory of the four humours, these being: Earth,  Water, Air and Fire – substances that the Greek physician Hippocrates believed made up the universe and the human body.  I have taken this theory and transposed it into a contemporary setting – the state of the imbalance of the global body that is warming through human disregard and mistreatment of the world’s vital organs, the elements or essence of the environment. I use the voice and ethos of the Pacific Climate Warriors – ‘We are not drowning - We are fighting’, as a focus and setting for a critical art practice-led examination of the tableau of tragedy that is Climate Change.

The Pacific Islands are in the vanguard of the effects of climate change; they are affected by rising seas, coastal erosion and extreme weather events. Scientists attribute these phenomena to the burning of fossil fuels and its polluting emissions. Mining and burning fossil fuels is a known major contributing factor to the rise of  global temperatures. As, when burned, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, a Greenhouse Gas, into the air.  Greenhouse gas rises into the atmosphere where it  traps heat causing global warming.  This then heats sea temperatures, aids the melting of glaciers, causes extreme weather events, and ultimately contributes to the suffering of the Pacific Islanders. Scientists warn that if global warming climbs above  1.5°C it risks further sea level rise, as is likely to happen if nothing is done, more extreme weather events, flooding, land erosion, crop failure, food shortages and worsening health conditions for millions of people. 

Australia, a near neighbour of the Pacific Islanders, is currently one of the world’s largest exporters of mined coal – a fossil fuel that is claimed to be the biggest single global source of carbon emissions. In spite of strong international criticism, and its own climatic events, such as drought, extreme temperatures and wildfires, Australia continues to mine coal, largely for export. Whilst conciliatory, the Australian Government persistently ignores the stark warnings and international criticism and continues to extract fossil fuels to boost its economy. This policy impacts on the health and well-being of the planet and is a source of concern and anxiety for the Pacific Islands. What the Australian Government regards as economic sense is economic disaster, life threatening and detrimental to the health and well-being of Pacific Islanders. Realising their people, culture and identity are at risk, the Pacific Climate Warriors took to the sea to protest and lobby for the right to have the voice of the Pacific people heard. 

 

In 2014, the Pacific Climate Warriors used traditional, hand-carved wooden canoes to  paddle out into the harbour of the world’s largest coal port, Newcastle, NSW Australia, to disrupt coal exports for a day. This display of the traditional that peacefully lives in  harmony with nature juxtaposed starkly with the dark economics of the fossil fuel  industry that work against nature, by destroying and polluting the environment. The resolution and determination of the Pacific Climate Warriors was tested to the full when they came face-to-face with the mega coal tankers and the might of the fossil fuel industry. The Warriors’ David and Goliath action was joined by dozens of  supporters in small boats forming a flotilla that disrupted and delayed 10 tankers from  leaving the Newcastle port. Though a small non-violent protest, the event brought to world attention, via news media and social networking, the message that the Pacific Island people ‘are not drowning, they are fighting’ for their voices to be heard. And, the message that continued Australian mining of fossil fuels for export, and their industrial use, is affecting the lives of the Pacific Islanders and millions of others worldwide, are destroying the planet, and is a practice that must stop. 

In 2017, the Newcastle port authority announced its intention to stop transporting  coal. It currently claims to be planning and working towards a non-fossil fuel future.