Back in April when we sat down to brainstorm over a coffee and dreamed up an installation exploring the human relationship with nature we had no idea it would lead to such wide insights and wonderful feedback from visitors. Feast Upon The Earth was a powerful experience and the resulting timescape brought out new understanding about our place in the world and our opportunities for the future. We like the double-entendre evoked by the title Feast Upon The Earth because it focuses on both the peril and the opportunity of human behaviour.
Seeing the story emerge on the computer brought out sharply to us how, on a species level, we have turned away from nature. We don’t value it on our profit & loss statement, we don’t seek it out in our daily lives, we don’t maintain the skills and knowledge of how to create food to sustain ourselves. Money, machines and “smart” technology are driving us further away from soil, land, and nature. And we are entirely reliant on fossil fuels to feed ourselves.
Many visitors to Studio 11 at IMMA expressed overwhelm. The sheer scale of the installation – 8 panels that are 2.4 metres high and add up to 10 metres across, telling a strongly visual story with words adding detail, was arresting. We’d created a quiz to help people focus on some of the detail (included in this book). By panel 6 or 7, some visitors felt they needed to pause, to absorb what they were seeing. Conversations and debates flowed. Words like “collapse”, “overwhelm”, “connection”, “truth”, and “love” floated through the room and were written on the Wall of Thoughts & Feelings.
We were also overwhelmed – in a good way – at the incredibly positive response. Hundreds of people of all ages experienced the installation and dozens asked where they could find this online, in a book and were we bringing it to schools, universities, other galleries? This enthusiasm was the driving force for the book in your hands.
We hope that this big picture story helps to remind us that we are not the boss of Earth; Earth owns us. We have choices, and they have consequences. The emergence of consciousness is the natural way forward. We need to notice, to be aware of why things are happening the way the are, and to influence the system in a way that benefits all stakeholders rather than the very few.
Every soul who walked into Studio 11 at IMMA was a boost for us. The boys who worked the spade, swivel hoe and rake through the soil; the children who drew and wrote on our wall of thoughts; the hundreds of visitors who worked through the Feast upon the Earth and soil quizzes; families who tried mindful eating together; and many strangers who urged us to share this message widely. Thank you for inspiring this book.