Event / 6 Jun 2024

Panel Discussion: Art as Activism in a Climate Emergency

Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz, Mike Perry, Helen Malia, Dan Ward

We warmly invite you to a panel discussion event, Art as Activism in a Climate Emergency, taking place on Thursday 6 June in conjunction with our exhibition The World Without Us. We are thrilled to be joined by Mike Perry, Helen Malia and Dan Ward. The discussion will be moderated by Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz.

In what is bound to be a fascinating evening, our panellists will be discussing how art practice can be employed as an effective agent for activism to address the current climate emergency.

Read more about the panellists below.

About Artists

Portrait of Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz

Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz

Abu-Bakr has been in the teaching and learning profession for over 30 years and has contributed immensely to various high promotional roles in primary and secondary schools. He has been a high school psychologist, head of department, head of key stage 3 & 4, teacher trainer, assistant headteacher and deputy head teacher for a private academy in 2018.

In 2009 he created the first ever Black and African history studies programme degree for community and university students and was the original founder of the Black History Month Management Committee 365 in black social and cultural history workshops since 2006.

In December 2023 his startup company ACAP Academy UK won the Lifestyle Coaching Welsh Prestige Award 2023-2024 for his work in therapy, television, radio, report writing for Welsh awarding bodies and designing BAME curriculums for the University of South Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Cardiff & Vale College and the Welsh Government’s New Welsh Curriculum.

At Present Abu-Bakr works as a psychologist at Ebbw Vale College and provides Anti-Racist training for the Welsh National Health Service and the University of South Wales. He also provides teacher training seminars in education leadership and BAME heritage, culture and identity around wales in Welsh primary, secondary, college and university institutions and has contributed to documentaries for school resources called: Wales, England’s Colony BBC, Wales Untold and Humanitree which won the Black films Award in Canada in 2023.

Portrait of Mike Perry

Mike Perry

Mike Perry’s photographs examine the interactions of landscape, nature and industrial society, questioning the romantic mythology of national parks as areas of wilderness and natural beauty. Among the many artists documenting ecological collapse, Perry’s work is distinct in the hyperlocal and apparently mundane nature of his subjects. Rather than epic, aerial vistas of glaciers or oil fields, Perry directs our attention to the overlooked hedgerow or the shell-encrusted flip-flop. The drama of these micro-studies are nonetheless global, holding a tension between their extraordinary aesthetic beauty and the damage inflicted upon nature by human activity. At a time when ecological collapse and a global pandemic are drawing unprecedented attention to the importance and fragility of nature, his work could hardly be more resonant.

He was invited to the first Tipping Point symposium on climate change between leading scientists and artists at Oxford University and in 2015 presented to the Treasury on climate change action with economist Nicholas Stern and artists Antony Gormley and Cornelia Parker. In 2022, Perry created Y Cae (The Field), a 15 acre experimental art/ecology space for nature restoration and engagement with artists, writers and ecologists.

Perry’s work has exhibited at National Museum Wales’s New Ground : Landscape Art in Wales since 1970, (2012), Art and The Material Landscape (2016), and Land/Sea 2021. The Royal Academy of Arts exhibitions The Black and White Room (2014), Art Made Now (2018) and Climate (2022), at the internationally curated Vita Vitale exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) and at the exhibition Found, curated by artist Cornelia Parker at The Foundling Museum (2016). In 2017, he was included in the British Arts Council Collection exhibition British Landscape and The Imagination at Towner Art Gallery.

Portrait of Helen Malia

Helen Malia

Helen is an environmental and climate change artist. Her practice is based in a small woodland in South Wales. She has exhibited internationally in Canada, Finland, and Ghana. Her current artworks experiment with growing and transplanting moss, which is an excellent pollution and carbon absorber. Helen clears invasive species that dominate landscapes and rewilds with the reintroduction of native species that support our natural ecosystems.

During the past twenty-five years Helen has worked extensively as an environmental artist facilitating a wide range of communities in her many roles as Artist in Residence, Community Artist, Education officer and Community Ranger. During 2021 Helen worked as Associate artist for Cardiff University and National Museums and Galleries of Wales. Working with mycologist Richard Wright and young talented artists from LGBTQ+ communities we researched queer ecologies and discussed how fungi and the mycorrhizal network can help shape sex education topics in schools. Fungi can change the sex of other plants.

Helen was recently commissioned by Wales Millennium Centre and created ‘Nyth’ an 3D installation and soundscape. This soundscape captured elements of woodland wildlife and voices from the communities of Riverside and Grangetown, most of whom hadn’t had the experience of being in wild nature in Wales.

Portrait of Dan Ward

Dan Ward

Originally from Liverpool but now based in Cardiff, Dan trained as an ecologist, working in river catchment and landscape scale conservation and restoration before moving into policy at Natural Resources Wales, and now as an independent advisor working in system thinking and system change. Dan got the rewilding bug many years ago, seeing that we had systems with the parts (key species and natural processes) missing, and that we needed to restore these parts to get our systems working again. Dan works with Tir Natur, helping to achieve the Tir Natur ambition of rewilding an area in Wales to show what large scale rewilding in Wales can achieve, and also works with Rewilding Britain.

“The reality is we live in such a degraded and empty world, nearly devoid of wildlife compared to what people in Wales would have lived with a couple of hundred years ago. This is what excites me, to imagine bringing life back to Wales in a way we haven’t seen for generations. Crucially, doing this alongside people and communities in Wales.”