The Outset Partners Grants 2020 awarded a Transformative Grant jointly to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in support of Climate House and the Serpentine Galleries, London in support of Back to Earth. Following an introduction by the Outset Partners, both institutions decided to work together on a series of initiatives founded on the principles of skills exchange and collaboration. This will include the joint convening of a new network and think-tank of organisations, General Ecology Network, decided to innovative thinking at the intersections of art and ecology.
Climate House will reimagine Inverleith House as a gallery for the 21st century, ignite a new arts strategy across the Garden and to highlight RBGE as a visionary institution within the Climate Crisis. Climate House will highlight the global risk to biodiversity through an immersive installation, activated as a space for conversation and action created in collaboration with Australian artist Keg de Souza, who has previously had major exhibitions in Melbourne, New York, Vancouver and London. de Souza is known for her socially engaged art practice, using mediums such as inflatable and temporary architecture, food, video, text, illustration, mapping and dialogical projects to explore the politics of space. Collaboration is central to de Souza’s practice and the new vision for Inverleith House; Climate House will inspire connections between artists, scientists, horticulturalists, scholars, activists, entrepreneurs, policymakers and visitors and local communities.
Back to Earth, a new, multidisciplinary and multi-year initiative, is the Serpentine Galleries’ 50th anniversary project. Launching in 2020, Back to Earth invites over sixty-five artists and creative practitioners to respond to the current climate emergency with forward-thinking and strategic artworks that are simultaneously environmental campaigns.
Over the coming years, Back to Earth will collaborate with partner organisations to realise an ambitious artist-led programme, that will include exhibitions, live events, publications, broadcasts, off-site and infrastructural projects, as well as public-awareness campaigns. In addition, Back to Earth is conceived as the catalyst for a series of internal transformations within the entire Serpentine organisation, to embed ecological principles within the very fabric of the Galleries. The Serpentine is artist-led to its core. To that end, Back to Earth encourages these transformations to also be driven by the imagination that artists bring to our everyday life and to the way we work.