AN installation which forms part of a Climate Change exhibition and is the result of over a years work by renowned sculptor Glen Morris who lives and works in Mid Wales opens on 15th April. The installation ‘Memorials to symbiosis’ is accompanied by a sound track of the corals
In 2018, Glenn began work on a collaborative project with Professor Jörg Wiedenmann and Dr Cecilia D‘Angelo from the Coral Reef Laboratory at the University of Southampton (National Oceanographic Centre). Twelve artists, of different disciplines, were involved with the remit of working with the scientists on the subject of bleached corals.
An exhibition of the works by the artists and scientists was planned for 2020 but due to Covid it did not take place. I Glenn began working on ‘Memorials’ in early 2019, and the process of carving took up most of that year.
A scientific viewpoint relating to the bleaching of corals was given by his colleagues Jörg and Cecilia, to whom I am immensely grateful for their help, advice and enthusiasm for the project. I believe that when science meets the arts, an energy occurs and the resulting outcome becomes more than the sum of its parts.
The beauty of corals, whilst not visible to the majority of people in normal circumstances, is clear to see and wonderful in its own right, but deeper study and reflection reveal far more alarming concerns. The loss and decline of the species with which we share the planet, caused by human activities — in particular the manner in which society is organised, which puts growth and the pursuit of profit above all else — is happening slowly and inexorably. It is, perhaps, this lack of suddenness that does not shock us into rapid and effective action.
Corals may be, in themselves, seen as analogous to our relationship with our environment; like the algae and polyps, which rely on each other for life itself, so do we, as humans, rely on our environment to provide the very means of life — and yet we are now witnessing the destruction of this relationship. Climate breakdown is a causal factor in the demise of the oceans and reefs, but the pollution of the waters caused by run-off from intensive farming is also playing its part. Such farming is not practised with the aim of feeding people sustainably but for profit.
When we contemplate beauty and the pleasure it gives us, it might be worth reflecting on how life might feel were those things no longer there. Beauty is not restricted to corals — it is all around us — but like corals and the relentless waves that grind the bleached coral skeletons to sand, so too will the beauty of the world, beauty that has no economic value, be ground to dust and lost from sight forever.