Environmental Art Festival Scotland (EAFS) is grounded in the rich tradition of environmental arts practice in South West Scotland which has led to strong relationships built up between landscape, environmental and countryside organisations, contemporary practitioners in the area and an international network of environmental and art practice.
EAFS in its current form began in 2012 when three people each representing Dumfries & Galloway arts organisations got together to talk about the possibility of developing an Environmental Art Festival.
Jan Hogarth of environmental arts organisation Wide Open, Matt Baker of the artists’ collective The Stove and Leah Black of Spring Fling established a vision and structure for delivery and a steering group of representatives from countryside and arts organisations. Artists, funders and countryside managers supported the idea and have been working with EAFS to deliver two very successful international Environmental Art Festivals for the region, in 2013 and 2015.
These involved over 50 multidisciplinary environmental art projects which use a local context to explore global issues of environmental consciousness and land. Exploring ways for future living and thinking.
The 2013 Environmental Art Festival was a success and a great foundation for future exploration. Engaging with a number of different locations across Dumfries & Galloway and connecting with existing environmental art projects, it delivered exciting, imaginative events, installations and projects which pushed the boundaries of practice.
2015 saw the second iteration of EAFS, this time on one site, Morton Castle in upper Nithsdale. With the support of the Duke of Buccleuch, regional funders and the dynamic artists’ community we had thousands of acres of open countryside to work in and engage with. Responding to the festival theme, “generosity as a way of understanding the world” EAFS producers created a temporary community on site which had a beautiful ethos and relaxed environment conducive to the sharing of ideas and thoughtful discussion. Festival organisers worked closely with a team of local young people who were passionate about the idea of being able to raise people’s consciousness of climate change and find new ways of living.
The impact of the 2013 and 2015 festivals continues through the practice of many of the artists involved, with ideas, skills and philosophies being shared across arts and environmental organisations who have very successfully worked together over the last few years. The practice is immersive, grounded and outward looking. We don’t know what the future holds but we do know this region and the people who work here are very well placed to become an important context for local and global conversations through these ground breaking connected practices and the people who live and work here.