Research in Art, Nature and the Environment

The Research in Art, Nature and the Environment (RANE) research cluster was established at University College Falmouth in 2004 and led by Associate Professor Dr Daro Montag. The cluster comprised four PhD students, a research fellow (George Dietzler), a research assistant (Robin Hawes), ten research associates and six research active staff.

One of its first projects to be commissioned by RANE was Dendros: Horizons of Change by the conservationist and artist Dave Pritchard which resulted in a publication and an outdoor installation work created along a trail in Haldon Forest Park, undertaken in cooperation with CCANW as one of their pre-opening events in 2005. Dave was to become Chair of the Arts and Environment Network in 2008 (see following section).

In 2008 a point was reached when Dartington College of Arts was considered to be no longer financially viable. The only acceptable offer on the table was to join forces with University College Falmouth which was expanding at the time. While this was presented as a merger, for some this looked at the time as a ‘take-over’.

Funding was obtained by Falmouth to build a state-of-the-art performance centre which would house the existing Dartington courses and the new performance-based ones. A number of Dartington courses migrated successfully and contributed to the expanding portfolio at the Falmouth and Penryn campuses. Some of the Dartington courses were not transferred to the newly merged institutions, in particular Dartington’s pioneering MA in Arts and Ecology which had been established by Alan Boldon.

Partly in order to fill this gap RANE developed a MA in Art and Environment at Falmouth which began in 2010 and was linked to its existing relationship with the Cape Farewell project. During the period 31 March-17 April 2011 the first year’s cohort of 15 students spent time at Haldon with Shelley Sacks who introduced them to the University of the Trees. Five of the students stayed at nearby Embercombe and made work in the forest which was then exhibited at CCANW at the end of their stay.

The course at Falmouth was popular with students, but seemed less so with the new University management who closed both it and the RANE research group in 2015.

RANE’s final major project was its research contribution to CCANW’s Soil Culture programme. In early 2013 Falmouth University, with CCANW as a partner, was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant of £27,650 for a 14 month period beginning in March. The main initiative was a Soil Culture Forum at Falmouth University held 2-5 July 2014. The Forum attracted over 90 participant artists, writers and environmentalists and comprised talks, workshops, presentations, performances, films, games, dinners and a trip. It is comprehensively documented in the Soil Culture publication pp.95-117 and in a video produced by Bryony Stokes. The publication was expertly designed by Robin Hawes, a former RANE research assistant.

During the lifetime of RANE (2004-15) it produced three international conferences, a series of art and ecology lectures, publications and exhibitions. At one of their Comprehending Nature conferences in 2005 Clive delivered a paper Nature and I are Two: Reconnecting People with the Planet. There were major Artful Ecologies conferences in July 2006, accompanied by a publication, and in July 2008, both with a range of important international speakers.

Daro speaking at a meeting of CCANW Associates, RANE staff and former Research Associates at Dartington. Photo Marina Velez.

At the final meeting of CCANW Associate Artists and Curators at Dartington in October 2017 there was also a mixture of Falmouth University staff and former RANE Research Associates. Daro had, by this time, become a CCANW Co-Director (2016-20).

Daro Montag and Clive Adams.

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Haldon Pre-Opening Activities

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