Copper Verdigris

UK-Russia Creative Commissions programme brings together art, science and digital technology and offers innovative, interdisciplinary and collaborative responses to climate change. 

Looking after the planet requires understanding and empathy, collaboration and connections, imagination, and innovation.

In our fourth survey of almost 40,000 young people across 36 countries, including the G20, climate change is perceived to be the most important issue to these young people (age 18 – 34).

The UK hosted the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties  (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021, in partnership with Italy. This was the largest international climate change summit the UK has hosted, bringing together over 30,000 delegates - including heads of states, climate experts and campaigners - to agree a coordinated action to tackle climate change. 

The UK-Russia Creative Commissions programme is one of many activities the British Council is delivering to support the success and legacy of COP26 to create opportunities for cooperation, dialogue and action which address the shared challenge of climate change. 

“Arctic Treeline”, Film and Video Umbrella

Arctic Treeline is a three-part art project, manifesting as a film, interdisciplinary workshops and artist residencies. It explores and communicates the vital role played by Taiga forests in the Arctic as habitats, homes and ecosystems, and the science that looks at what is happening to trees now and into the future with global warming and the ecological emergency.

The project draws on collaborative, interdisciplinary practice-based research to share experiences of climate change and sustainable living between different generations, professions and communities living in the Arkhangelsk and Pinega regions. It will feature a number of artists’ residencies and workshops, led by artist filmmaker, educator and researcher Ruth Maclennan and the Arctic Art Institute (AAI), and involving artists and students from Arkhangelsk and elsewhere in Russia. A film, documenting these dialogues and interactions, and Maclennan's exploration of the local landscape, will be produced. The project is managed by Film and Video Umbrella (UK) and the Arctic Art Institute (Russia).

The exhibition will be available from February 26 to March 17 at CSI Arkhangelsk. The opening will take place on February 26, 19.00 (MSC).

“Deep Ecologies: Correspondence Programme”, Mimosa House

The permafrost is a thriving ecosystem, teaming with life, mythology, histories, and futures, hidden just below the surface. Yet unlike tropical rainforests or the deep oceans, this frozen expanse rarely appears in the visual imagination. Shared conversations between artists, writers, ecologists, geographers, hydrologists, anthropologists, astronomers, shaman and others, both from the region and from afar, explore the diverse entanglements of Yakutia and Buryatia. As the rapidly thawing permafrost releases terrifying quantities of methane and carbon into the atmosphere, Deep Ecologies opens a discussion about this precarious and vital landscape, whose rapidly changing environment plays a seismic role not just for the people of Siberia, but for the future of the ecology of our planet.

The project delves into the depths of Lake Baikal (the deepest freshwater lake in the world), the punctured surface of the thermokarst pools, and the organic biomes suspended in the frozen soil below the tundra; from the ancient creatures of the deep past exposed as the permafrost thaws and the vast terrifying, chasms of the Batagiaka crater, opening up a 'mouth to the underworld'; and the rewilding project, Pleistocene Park, that seeks to recreate the mammoth steppe of 12,000 years ago. 

The precarious permafrost landscapes of Eastern Siberia are a place where the suspended lives of the deep past merge with the present as they are exposed by the thaw: and as they do, they navigate the future for both human and non-human communities, locally and across the planet. Bringing together diverse scientific, artistic, and indigenous knowledges, Deep Ecologies considers these subterranean environments and the stories they hold: past, present, and future.

With ArtLab Yakutsk, Bo Choy, Shezad Dawood, Daisy Hildyard, Natalia Papaeva, Himali Singh Soin and Alena Vinokurova.

“Echoes of the Sea. Navigating Through The Changes of Nature and Cultures”

Exhibition project by British artist Nabil Ali that draws public attention to coastline erosion which happens due to the constant rise of water temperature and sea level as a result of industrialisation, urbanisation and consequences of climate change. Learn more about the project.

The project consists of an international research seminar organized at Kunstkamera Museum in St Petersburg on February 10, 2022 and an online exhibition available online from March 1, 2022 here.

”Echoes of the Sea” in St. Petersburg combines its research with The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in order to rethink the ethnographic collection, by revisiting the accumulated knowledge of the museum’s scientific department through the prism of shifts in the natural environment and cultural conditions. Project booklet.

“Eco: audio-visual environmental sensing”, Green Park Studio

Urban environments affect the physical and mental health of billions of people living in the cities. Although science is quickly moving forward to quantify and map the quality of urban environments, raising awareness and communicating safety and comfort levels are in their early stages. This project engages scientists, architects, health experts, students and Russia’s leading multimedia interactive technology specialists to engage young people and members of the public in different urban environments in a vivid and exciting way. The partners will construct an interactive “sculpture” with the help of students at the MASI university, which will be exhibited at the Skolkovo Innovation Centre in Moscow on February 28, 2022. The sculpture will communicate real-time data about the surrounding environment (in and outdoor) in a vivid multi-media way, using artificial intelligence.

The project team includes female architect and influencer Xenia Adjoubei from Green Park Studio, sonic artist Taras Mashtair, scientific health methodology from Djinn Sensors, young learners from MASI, children from Naukograd (Science city), public awareness campaign from Protected Areas Embassy Charity Educational Foundation, and green technology expert from Planet 2030 Guy Eames.