The role(s) of art under the shadow of climate change


In 2015-16, I had the opportunity to spend two years working with Riksteatern, Sweden's touring national theatre, as leader of artistic and audience development. Part of my brief was to bring together practitioners from within and beyond the world of the performance arts to explore the role(s) of art under the shadow of climate change.

Negotiating the Surrender


The place looks like an Italian monastery, all cloistered gardens and red-tiled rooftops. On a bright spring day you can get caught off-guard: stepping out onto the open walkway that links one building to another, you find the air two seasons colder than the view from the windows seemed to promise. We are a long way north of the Alps, in the small lakeside town of Sigtuna, thirty miles outside...

After We Stop Pretending


The setting could so easily seduce you. Painted wooden houses line three sides of a square of grass: the red house, the white house and the low wooden barn between them where the bunk rooms are. On the fourth side, the slope falls away, past the village library, past the station house and the railway tracks to the lake. A strip of an island a hundred yards offshore, then miles of water stretching...

Three Seasons With CEMUS


Published in The CEMUS Diaries, a series to mark the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Environment & Development Studies at Uppsala University. It’s early spring. I’m taking a language course for immigrants with a higher education. Eight years is the average time it takes before an immigrant to Sweden gets to work in a job that matches their professional qualifications: this course was...

How Climate Change Arrives


The sun is out, the sky is a cloudless blue and the kids around me on the train are talking football. On mornings like this, it’s hard to hold onto the sense that we are in trouble, let alone that this trouble might be deep enough to derail our whole way of living.

You Want It Darker


The regular mechanisms of political narration are breaking down. The pollsters lose confidence in their methods, the pundits struggle to offer authoritative explanations for events that they laughed off as wild improbabilities only months before.

We Are the Only Species We Have the Option of Being: A Conversation With Anne Tagonist


Published in Dark Mountain: Issue 9. A couple of weeks before COP21, I did an interview with an American radio station. They set me up against another guest, a professor at Yale who specialises in the psychology of climate communication. I don’t know what my credentials were meant to be, on this occasion, except that the producer said, ‘I spend a lot of time interviewing people...

Maps for the Journey


Published on the blog of the Dark Mountain Workshop, a project I created during my time as leader of artistic development at Riksteatern, Sweden’s touring national theatre. In 1678, the protestant preacher John Bunyan published what was to become one of the most widely-read books in the English language: The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to that which is to come: Delivered...

End of an Epoch?


Walking aimlessly through north London, a decade ago, I was stopped in my tracks by a glowing sign that read ‘Holocene Motors’. What dark coincidence or twisted joke was this, an auto repair shop named after the geological epoch that our motorised way of life is bringing to an end?