November 29, 2013

Both speakers were brilliant- fascinating to hear an artist and a scientist talking about the same subject.

Our second Living Room event took place in the Foyle Room at Turner Contemporary in Margate. The blank white gallery space was transformed with rugs, cushions, standard lamps and tables into cosy living rooms. The two fireside chairs for our guest speakers, Tom Crompton and Dorothy Cross were set against the backdrop of the rough grey waters of the English Channel.

Tom began by outlining the latest findings about our values; the beliefs and standards that we take through life, and highlighted the difference between extrinsic values, (e.g. wealth, status, power and materialism), and intrinsic values, (e.g. community, imagination, creativity, social justice). The more we are exposed to extrinsic values the less likely we are to cooperate with others or act in the interests of the environment and future generations. He explored the role of art, describing how different pieces of art might prompt extrinsic or intrinsic values in us.

Dorothy separated herself as an artist out from her art, saying that once a piece is finished her relationship with it is over; the work then has its own relationship with those who view it. She described encounters with art as triggering a change in us, in our anatomy, at a molecular level, so that when we wake the next morning we are somehow transformed.

The discussions with each of the living rooms were thoughtful, provocative and at times passionate with the audience reflecting on the role of art, and Dorothy’s work in particular, triggering reflections on the natural world and our own impermanence. Tom and Dorothy both advocated for the importance of each other’s work, with Dorothy praising the ambition of Tom’s environmental campaigning, and Tom reflecting that Dorothy’s work helps us see the natural world and our own relationship with it anew.

As darkness fell the conversations continued informally over a supper of soup and bread. Dorothy’s exhibition is on at Turner Contemporary until 5th January 2014.

A wonderful afternoon. Inspirational. Beautiful setting. Thought-provoking and full of kindness.

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