During the unprecedented global challenges of 2020, the organisational team for Call of the Running Tide Environmental Sculpture and Multimedia Festival (CRT) recognise the importance of connection with culture and the arts as a platform to uplift communities. The emphasis of CRT is to explore meaningful art encounters that are inspiring and responsive to community needs while exploring the necessity of our ongoing connection with, and conservation of, natural environments.

With the potential need to move from a ‘site-specific’ approach, the CRT team embraces the creative opportunity to engage in a totally new way with the notion of ‘Festival’. For instance, the CRT 2021 event may become a hybrid festival, composed of digital and non-digital components; becoming a significant component of the recovery and change process towards a new cultural landscape.

The 2019 curatorial statement encapsulates the direction and theme behind the “Call of the Running Tide, Environmental Sculpture and Multimedia Festival”.

CALL OF THE RUNNING TIDE

Environmental Sculpture and Multimedia Event 2019

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

Excerpt from Sea Fever by John Masefield

Published in 1902 the poem ‘Sea Fever’ speaks of a connection with the sea that is so powerful to the sailor/poet that it is ‘all (he) asks’ for. He describes that primal human yearning to connect with the power of nature.

Art, like poetry, offers articulation of this deep connection we have with nature. There are, however, substantial differences between an English poet/sailor’s experience in 1902 and what we are experiencing in 2019 in Far North Eastern Australia in close proximity to two of the most revered natural wonders of the world: The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Globally and locally the world is experiencing profound natural crises which “call” artists to respond differently*. While some artists might take us deeper into nature’s wonder and beauty, helping us to ‘see again’ what we may miss in the first place, there are those who draw our attention to current threats: the diminishment of the natural world and the consequent and alarming global imbalances created by climate change.

Artists in ‘Call of the Running Tide’ are responding to local and global threats. The artists remind us, of the essential vitality and fragility of nature while at the same time highlighting the devastating impact of climate change: the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, pollution caused by run-offs and waste such as plastics and micro-plastics in our once pristine rivers and oceans. They explore the decline and extinction of species including marine animals and insects, the important role that trees play as the ‘lungs of the earth’ and the problems associated with ‘single use’ plastic. At the same time, they are motivating us in our own steps towards positive change.

Environmental art is created to inspire caring and respect, stimulate dialogue, and encourage the long-term flourishing of the social and natural environments in which we live.

Ultimately, this event, the ‘Call of the Running Tide’ is a ‘call’ to all people for action; it is ‘a clear call and a wild call that cannot be denied’.

 

Jill Chism, Curator.

*Over the past 10 years environmental art has become a focal point of exhibitions around the world as the social and cultural aspects of climate change come to the forefront. The term “environmental art” often encompasses “ecological” concerns. It primarily celebrates an artist’s connection with nature in the use of natural materials or employs waste materials as a form of protest and recycling. Art practices are mostly sculptural, and multimedia based.