The MISSING Workshop
Since moving towards an Agrarian society over 10,000 years ago, we as a species, have acted as if nature was something external to us, something to be mastered and ultimately commercialised. This thinking has structured our contemporary world and this structuring is responsible for the ecological crisis we are currently facing into.
Osmia aurulenta is one of 77 species of solitary bee that can be found across Ireland. Solitary Bees pollinate more flowers than any other group including butterflies and birds, ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive. Without them mammals and birds would not have the seeds, berries, or plants on which they depend. Osmia aurulenta is the only member of the Osmia genus that makes its nest in empty snail shells from a variety of species. From a conservation point of view, it is Near Threatened in Ireland. This means the “species require monitoring as they are vulnerable to extinction / may survive only due to conservation efforts. Over the last 50 years up to 30% of Irelands insects have disappeared. It’s entirely possible that Osmia, like many of our native animals, will be upgraded to a higher risk category in the near future.” , according to Dr. Aidan O’Hanlon, Head Curator of the Natural History Museum in Dublin.
Insects are the main contributor to biodiversity globally. The main contributors to the disappearance of the insect population in Ireland is habitat loss and climate change. In 2019 the UN released a report on the devastating effects of climate change, highlighting that up to one million individual species are in danger of extinction. How does one visualise such a large-scale catastrophe ? Mass extinction is so awful, so incomprehensible, so horrible – and at present its so invisible.
The Unavoidable Interconnectedness of Everything is an ambitious project that highlights the urgent need for behavioural change to insure a healthy and sustainable future for our planet. To do this I developed the MISSING workshop, to highlight the important role of solitary bees for our local biodiversity. Osmia aurulenta is presented as an example of a creative approach to existing harmoniously within ones environment. The emphasis is to deliver a fun, stimulating workshop.
In the workshop people of all ages, are invited to produce individual ceramic ‘shells’. Using an organic material, such as clay, allows people to literally get their hands dirty, this I believe, invites a visceral response. Participants are invited to produce 2 ceramic ‘shells’, one of which is donated and incorporated into the final artwork. Each donated shell represents an endangered species, highlighted by the 2019 UN report, that when combined can produce a large-scale artwork, that creates a visual interpretation of this emergency. Encouraging participants to produce a small, individually representative artwork, that is an essential component of a much larger artwork, highlights the power-of-one to have a positive impact on what can often be perceived as overwhelming. The workshop concludes with a conversation around small concrete steps that we can all take to help improve biodiversity in our local communities.
Scientific data points to the overwhelming need for all of us to engage collectively to ensure a positive outcome for future generations. Evolutionary thinking informs us that humans intrinsically function best as small, highly co-operative social groups. Co-operation at this scale highlights our capacity to change. To ensure a sustainable future we must urgently engage in co-operative actions at various scales. This project requires collaboration to exist.
To date over 400 people from Dublin, Laois, Offaly and Wexford have participated in the MISSING workshop.
This project was developed as part of An Urgent Enquiry.