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Emergency: Drawing the traces of glacial melt

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventEcologies of Drawing - Loughborough University / Online, Loughborough, United Kingdom
Duration: 6/04/2022 → …


ConferenceEcologies of Drawing
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period6/04/22 → …
Internet address


The context of climate emergency revives the resonance of John Ruskin’s assertion that the role of drawing is “to preserve something like a true image of beautiful things that pass away, or which you must yourself leave” (Ruskin, 1857). While Ruskin recognized drawing as a tool for noticing environmental change, more recent practice and scholarship suggest graphic languages of mark and erasure, concealment and revelation offer more than preservation.

The paper asks what this material intelligence of drawing might offer for articulating precarious ecologies engendered by the global climate emergency? Conversely, how might thinking through this context enrich our understanding of graphic encounters?

These questions are approached through the lens of ‘Emergency’ a drawing research project provoked by glacial archaeology based on fieldwork with a Swiss museum collection in 2018-19, developed through a Henry Moore Fellowship 2021-22. While glacial artefacts provide important archaeological knowledge about the past, this knowledge comes at the cost of environmental change as the glaciers in which they have been encased for 50, 500 or 5000 years are melting at unprecedented rates. This context presents a compelling conceptual framework of inversion focused not what is lost (the ice) but what appears, adding nuance to simplified narratives of ecological change.

When research has highlighted the need to engage methodologies of the arts (Carey et al. 2016) ‘to encompass the moral, spiritual, aesthetic and affective’ dimensions of climate change (Castree et al. 2014), it feels imperative to ask, what role might drawing play?