I am not an artist or an expert on art. I am, however, an expert on me and I know what I like, what I don’t and what affects me emotionally when I’m presented with a piece of work to view! I like sculpture, I particularly like Constantin Brâncusi and Jacob Epstein, my favourite piece is an Epstein busk of Einstein housed at the Fitzwilliam Museum. For me, this piece of work feels alive, I can see the glint in his eye and it’s the closest I can come to a feeling of knowing the subject.
I’ve been lucky enough in my role at PECT to be able to work with some fantastic artists over the last few years, from those involved in our Faith in the Environment project, where people from the city’s faith groups made reflective art that was displayed in the community gallery at Peterborough Museum, to the fantastic work produced as part of our Arts Council England funding for the Green Festival.
My experience of working with the Green Festival artists has been very positive. The artists are all a joy to have around and I personally have found it interesting and stimulating to think about environmental issues in a creative way. The artists have broadened my concepts of art. It has been interesting to learn about each of the artists and their practices and to experience how each approached their work differently and applied their passion to the themes of the festival.
In my role as Communities Team Manager at PECT this experience has lead me to thinking about different, more creative ways of working with my team, and to encourage them to work more creatively with those they engage with across other projects. I have also been able to work with the wider creative community in Peterborough, with organisations such as Metal, Peterborough Presents and Eastern Angles amongst others, which is fostering a cross pollination of the arts and the environment throughout the city.
For me the link between art and the environment is becoming intrinsic in helping us talk about and express how we feel about the issues we face because of the challenges of climate change. It can light the way to an understanding of these issues and to think about the changes we can make to make a difference without scaring ourselves into inaction.
Art and creativity offer a perfect format for engagement with the environment in a non threatening way, which allows us to work out for ourselves the actions we can take as individuals, and how we can encourage our families and communities to live more sustainably.
For more information about this year’s Green Festival initiative Planet B and the artist activities, see www.pect.org.uk/PlanetB.
Karen Igho is the Communities Team Manager at PECT.