There is a lot of support indirectly and perhaps unconsciously given to the world around us. In Eden I witnessed a Robin picking up crumbs that I had just swept from my knee during a quick lunch in the woods.
The pinnacle of unintended support and connection comes after death. Our bodies return to the earth and can support other lifeforms.
But this is not the only way dead lifeforms can support the living. Humans make various use of dead lifeforms as raw materials for construction, and other supportive functions for life.
It is significant that they have called for adaptation to help us survive the very real impacts of climate change that are being felt today. The Global Commission on Adaptation was formed 10 months ago in reaction to a deadly summer of climate change related natural disasters.
This is intended to happen in tandem with efforts to prevent the worst climate change from happening at all, but since there is a very real threat to survival today this is also direly necessary.
The key and notable difference here vs the Eden Project mission, is that the report is targeting action of governments and business to change their behaviour, not individuals. It lays out the business case for investing now to adapt, as a means of saving money in the long-run (since spending in the wake of disaster much higher than that to prevent/anticipate it) and protecting gdp. That we must reduce this impending disaster to dollars and cents in order to help safeguard life on Earth is stark and disturbing, but it seems this is the reality we face. The UN were already talking about adaptation 10 years ago, so this must be a response that is intended to more tangibly drive action.
Within this report they highlight the key role that the natural world plays as a crucial support system in all elements of our adaptation to climate change – and the visual charts they include play on our inter-connectedness.
While I think this is still highly connected to my survival strategies theme, I think this could be a separate one in itself, specifically around calls to action, activism, protest and societal change. Relating here and now to environmentalism, which would also include eden project, extinction rebellion and Greta Thunberg, but also in recent years the #MeToo movement and protest marches in the UK and US against the political climate.
Across much of the animal kingdom, family connections are strong and a source of great support especially through the juvenile stage. For mammals this is especially strong during pregnancy and in the nursing stage.
Bees are a support system in themselves – providing vital pollination to plantlife, and nourishing animals like humans in turn.
While reflecting on the importance of the support from bees, it is unsurprising that a honeycomb structure was chosen for the iconic biomes at the Eden project – where they aspire to be connecting us. The delicate structure appears bubble-like from the outside, with the tesselated structure dominant all across the heavens inside.
Besides the visual communications Eden themselves used to evoke inter-connectedness, I was interested to witness this survival strategy in action in the lifeforms in and around the site itself.
Lifeform directly supported by another lifeform: ‘symbiosis’
Lifeform supported indirectly by another lifeform e.g. benefiting from the death of another, or picking up scraps.
Direct Connection/Support: Epiphytes
Within the rainforest biome, I observed an interesting type of plant known as ‘epiphytes’ – ones that use other plants for support and do not themselves require soil, and are not parasitic.
These plants are supported in a literal sense, as they are suspended in the air by the trunk on which they grow. That they grow on the trunk but are not parasites is particularly interesting. In both of these photographs I like how vibrant and full of energy the plants look, with their spiky forms and vivid green colours.
This week we took a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall. Our brief was to research different survival strategies whilst we were there.
The mission statement of the Eden Project is:
To connect us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.
In doing so, they hope to combat ‘plant blindness’, which means that we do not realise the myriad ways in which our modern lives are inextricably linked with the natural world around us. From the food that we eat, to the clothes we wear, the medicines we survive by and materials we construct with, we neglect to consider how even most man-made products have in some way been produced using natural resources.
Their primary message is that of interconnectedness between us and the natural world (see below). The very way in which we survive at a total level is because of our place within a whole – we rely on the support of other lifeforms/systems. This interconnection/support system is the ultimate survival strategy which I wanted to explore further.
My map tells the story of my future upon embarking on the Foundation Art & Design course, having diverted from my corporate career. Creativity, self-confidence and discovery will all lead me to a new direction. Along the way I will need guidance & support, learning, reflection and a balanced outlook to help me avoid the hazards of self-doubt, over-thinking and indecision. Here I have incorporated the conventions of mapped allegory with a naive illustration style as seen in children’s fiction.
On reflection, I think it may have been good to incorporate some way of showing where I am on this journey now, as a reflection of the viewpoint from which this was created. There is a sense of there being less charm and life to it than the 100 acre wood, which could be improved by including wildlife/characters, or small asides/commentary and more shrubbery. I’m not sure this conveys as much humour as I might have liked either. The overall image is very flat, perhaps slightly more than intended. Perhaps instead this is not helped by a very flat horizon/endpoint?
That said, I am pleased with the materials I chose, and the perspectives of the buildings I depicted as I think they are recognisable likenesses.
I wanted my journey to show the personal growth I hope for in my FAD – the creativity, discovery, reflection, finding myself/direction, and a positive future. The perils I anticipated needing to overcome were self-criticism, over-thinking, procrastination, self-consciousness, indecision and anxiety.