Living Nature: Art, Science and Indigenous Knowledge

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An afternoon and evening of talks, discussions, and music exploring the positive potential of human relationships with nature.

Please note. All sessions for this event will now be online only and free to attend. Existing bookers will have tickets refunded, but will still be sent links to watch all sessions online.

Explore the future of human relationships with nature through the lens of art, science and indigenous wisdom, in an afternoon and evening programme of talks, discussion and music.

A week before the COP 26 climate change conference, Living Nature will bring together leading artists, scientists and indigenous representatives to join the audience in exploring questions such as what can humans learn from the rest of life? What do creativity and diversity bring to a threatened planet? Why is it critical to listen to indigenous voices now? Collectively, we’ll envision how we create a future that’s not just sustainable but flourishing.

Please see below for details. You will be sent links to all of the individual events on Thursday 28th October.



2:00 pm – Welcome

2:05 pm – Opening talk

Wisdom from the heart of the world: the voice of an Arhuaco youth environmental activist, Ati Viviam Villafaña.

3:00 pm - Break

3:15 pm – Connecting to people, plants and place in urban environments. Artist Frances Disley in-conversation with curator Adelaide Bannerman and artist and urban farmer Michael Smythe.

4:30 pm – Discussion:Transitioning to Systems that create a Flourishing Future

How do we bridge imbalances of power and respond to broken trust and collective emotions?
What do positive human-nature relationships look like on a global scale?
What might it look like to embed nature’s intelligence into our systems?

With biologist and systems thinker Phoebe Tickell, Cambridge researcher and ClimateInColour founder, Jocelyn Longdon, Zoologist and chair and founder of The British Ecological Society's, Racial and Ethnic Equality and Diversity (REED) Network. Reuben Fakoya-Brooks, and Director of Science at Kew Alexandre Antonelli.

7:00 pm – Canadian Inuit advocate and author of ‘The Right to Be Cold’ Sheila Watt-Cloutier in conversation with Polly Russell

8:30 pm – Listening Session with Manari Ushigua, a political and ceremonial leader and healer from the Sapara people from the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest.

JJoin high-profile Western leaders as they pass over the microphone and take an intentional listening role, highlighting the urgent need for the global north to start listening to Indigenous communities, whose sophisticated cultural practices have stewarded vast regions of biodiversity for generations.

Listeners include
Susannah Fitzherbert-Brockholes, Assistant Director in PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change practice
Simon McBurney, actor and founder of the Théâtre de Complicité
Baroness Rosie Boycott, Crossbench Life peer, journalist and activist.

Hosted by Jerome Lewis, anthropologist and co-founder of Flourishing Diversity





Ati Viviam Villafaña is a young Indigenous climate activist from the Arhuaco People of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia, known to them as ‘The Heart of the Earth’. She joins Living Nature whilst on her journey to the UN Climate Change Conference.


Frances Disley is a Liverpool-based artist whose recent Invisible Dust works are a response to her local municipal park, which has offered sanctuary and inspiration to test ideas around the psychological benefits of being around plants.


Michael Smythe is an artist, urban farmer and creative director of Nomad Projects, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Current projects include Phytology, an urban physic garden and research institute in Bethnal Green.


Sheila Watt-Cloutier is an environment, cultural and human rights Advocate and has for decades represented the issues pertaining to the protection of Inuit culture and the Arctic. In 1995 she was elected President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. The author of The Right to Be Cold, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights. Sheila Watt-Cloutier joins Living Nature live via video link.

Polly Russell is Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. Polly read American & Commonwealth Arts at Exeter University, was awarded a Masters in Journalism at Louisiana State University and holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sheffield. Her research focusses on twentieth century women’s activism and feminism as well as the history and politics of food. Since 2012 Polly has had a column in the Financial Times Saturday magazine, The History Cook and she is the historical presenter on the BBC2 history series Back in Time.


Living Nature – Live at the British Library is the final day of Living Nature, an online programme produced by Invisible Dust and Flourishing Diversity from Monday 25 October.


Invisible Dust is an arts-science organisation that brings together leading artists and scientists to produce artworks and events that explore our environment and climate change.


Flourishing Diversity is a new organisation that supports a shift towards culture-centered conservation as being a fundamental priority to address climate breakdown and restore biodiversity,


The Canada-UK Foundation promotes Canada in the UK through education and shares Canadian values by creating platforms for conversation and the exchange of ideas.


The Eccles Centre supports and promotes creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas through the world-class collections of the British Library.


Living Nature is sponsored by Aurum Fund Management Ltd. (“Aurum”)


Aurum is a specialist investment manager founded in 1994. Reflecting the Aurum Group’s focus on climate change and support for the Paris Agreement’s aim of keeping the increase in global average temperatures to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, Aurum is a supporter of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. From an investment perspective, Aurum has been a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment since 2013.


Photo credit : Brus Rubio, 2019

If you’re attending in person, please arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start time of this event. We are committed to the safety of our event bookers. Click here to find out how we are welcoming you to the Library safely

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Name: Living Nature: Art, Science and Indigenous Knowledge
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546