The art using climate change to challenge perceptions
Published on 21 October 2021
A University of Dundee student is using art to question how the people of Scotland respond to the societal issues generated by climate change.
Cat Dunn, a Culture and Heritage Studies PhD student at Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, wants visitors to her latest exhibition to examine how climate change can affect people’s prejudices and address these attitudes head-on.
She is curator of the Harbinger Exhibition, which takes place at the Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, from 1-7 November.
“When people think of the climate crisis they tend to think of other places – the Great Barrier Reef, the deserts – and don’t look closer to home,” said Cat.
“But to me the climate crisis is so much more. It deals with racial bias, patriarchy, colonialism, and these are experiences I want more people to be aware of.
“The impact of climate change on our planet affects where people can live, how they work, and what they eat. That creates subsequent issues.
“For example, if climate change forces people to move, will they experience prejudice, or feel marginalised in their new home? This is what this exhibition explores. The work assembled here is proof that climate change affects everybody, albeit in different ways.”
Having completed her undergraduate studies and Masters at the Glasgow School of Art, Cat transferred from the west to east coast to do her PhD at Dundee.
Her exhibition features work from a host of international contributors detailing their own experiences and relationship with climate change. This includes submissions from as far afield as China, Cuba, Portugal, and the USA, reflecting the global nature of COP26, which runs concurrent to the exhibition. For Cat, this is symbolised by race, an issue that has remained prominent throughout her life, from growing up in Barbados to her present-day life in Glasgow.
“I was just a little girl, but I remember a tourist coming up to me and just touching my hair,” she said.
“That person had paid to visit Barbados on holiday and thought that gave her the right to come up and touch me. That is the sort of experience I want to highlight in this exhibition.
“One of our exhibits features a piece of writing by a Japanese woman who says she has tried to be like a white person her entire life. Hearing that from somebody is very moving and something that I can personally relate to.
“What I hope is that people who come to this exhibition leave with an understanding of what it feels like to be in my shoes, or somebody like me. I want them to leave with empathy.”
The Harbinger Exhibition opens at the Transmission Gallery, King Street, Glasgow, from 1-7 November.
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