Gustav Metzger – Facing Extinction Conference at UCA Farnham – 7-8 June 2014

“The art, architecture and design world needs to take a stand against the on-going erasure of species – even where there is little chance of ultimate success. It is our privilege and our duty to be at the forefront of the struggle. There is no choice but follow the path of ethics into aesthetics. We live in societies suffocating in waste. Every time you consider buying a new laptop or mobile phone, you need to recall the agonising photos of young men, prematurely aged, who spend their shortened lives dealing with the toxic technology discarded by our civilisation.” (Gustav Metzger)

Facing Extinction – The Conference

UCA Farnham on Sat 7th & Sun 8th June 2014

With this call to arms, UCA Farnham Fine Art department and Gustav Metzger invite you to a meeting between artists, scientists, ecologists and other specialist academics that will explore:

(i) Climate Change; (ii) Biodiversity; (iii) Technology and Resources; (iv) Global Systems: Food and Water.

What is the scale and scope of the problems we currently face? How can we articulate and shape a program of action? Each of these four panels will be explored through presentation, conversation, round-table discussion and performance.

Confirmed Speakers

Gustav Metzger – Artist

Michael Pawlyn – Architect & Director of ‘Exploration’

Prof. Peter Head – Founder ‘Ecological Seqestration Trust’

Peter Kennard & Kat Phillipps – Artists

Yasmine Ostendorf – Programme Manager from ‘Cape Farewell’

Jonathan Rosenhead – Emeritus Professor of Operational Research LSE

Ackroyd & Harvey – Artists

John Fanshawe – Senior Strategy Adviser at ‘BirdLife International’

Polly Higgins – International Environmental Lawyer

(i) Climate Change

The way that we live our lives has caused the climate to change and the planet to warm more rapidly that it might have otherwise. We can already see the effects of this climate change both in the UK and abroad with increasingly frequent ‘freak’ weather and natural disasters. A devastating reality lies ahead of us if we do not act now.

What are the key issues? How can scientists and cultural practitioners collaborate to communicate the scale and urgency of the problem? How can we facilitate behaviour change? What solutions are there for a sustainable future in the face of such fundamental changes to the world around us?

(ii) Biodiversity

Biodiversity is life’s only army against the diseases of oblivion. Throughout the 20th century, global biodiversity reduction through agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, climate-change and urbanisation among other factors has increased exponentially. Until now in the 21st century, the rate is nothing short of explosive and its impacts catastrophic.

What are the visible and invisible impacts of species loss around us? What does effective conservation policy and practice look like? How can we imaginatively create solutions to this problem both on a micro and a macro scale?

(iii) Technology and Resources

Humans constantly interact, manipulate and exploit nature and this, by definition, has always let us live. The rate at which we procure materials, innovate, and produce new products is, however, increasing and whilst this offers massive positive potential to enhance lives around the world, it frequently exacerbates global inequalities and exploitation as well as irreversibly plundering and depleting natural resources.

How might we balance the drive for technological advancement against the need to sustain the long-term survival of our species and our planet? How might we make better and fairer energy and material-resource choices? What are the challenges we face as we continue to try to control and change the natural world?

(iv) Food and Water

In combination with steadily increasing global population, oil and fuel prices have experienced a series of crises over the last 10 years meaning that international food prices have reached unprecedented levels with devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable populations. Eleven percent of the global population remains without immediate access to drinking water. Elsewhere, inefficient consumption patterns and the loss and waste of food represent massive waste in the water system. Food and water, then, appear as global representatives of economic, environmental and social inequality.

How can we improve food security and equality in the wake of the combined challenges of climate change, demography change, population increase and increasing resource-scarcity? How can we work towards an understanding of the true economic, environmental and social value of water? How can we work towards more equal distribution of these resources?

Ticket Information

Ticket price includes attendance to the days’ panel talks and events, light lunch and refreshments. On Saturday evening there will be some performance events exploring the themes of the conference.

Tickets can be purchased from April 2014 at :

Full price : £45 one day / £90 two days

Concessions (students /unwaged) : £15 per day / £30 two days

Free tickets: Free tickets will be available for additional students to see the talks via live streaming in other lecture theatres on campus.

For conference information contact:

Andrea Gregson, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, UCA Farnham T: +44 (1252) 892820 E: