Amelia’s Magazine | Liberate Tate create a Crude Awakening artwork at Tate Modern

Mr and Mrs Collingham, search illustrated by Krister Selin

When my oldest pal Lydia announced her engagement and subsequent wedding, information pills I struggled to imagine her having a generic do with a meringue dress and posed pictures. Her list of likes include folk and rock music, vintage fashion and living a sustainable day-to-day life. So it was no surprise when she declared that her wedding would take place in the woods.

I apologise in advance if this article may seem a little self-indulgent, and the truth is, it probably is. Well, sod it.

Lydia and Nathan, photographed with a Polaroid SunSnap from 1986

Lydia and Nathan’s day began at the local town hall, with a low key ceremony. I had been so nervous about my continous blubbing throughout the ceremony, but as The Beatles’ Love Me Do skipped on an old portable CD player, my tears turned to laughter. Lydia entered in a floor length Grecian-inspired dress with an artificial pose of sunflowers. Blimey, these civil ceremonies don’t last long do they? Before I knew it, they were Mr and Mrs Collingham and we were ushered outside to pose on the lawn. (Is it a civil ceremony when you get married at a registry office? I hope so).

Camping! Illustrated by Natasha Thompson

Anyway, the festivities began. Car-sharing had been arranged prior to the day (unfortunately there isn’t any easier way of getting around our small network of tiny villages) and guests had been discouraged from travelling from overseas. We arrived at the reception, set in our friend Alice’s beautiful garden. Lydia and Nathan had tried to create a festival vibe, whilst keeping carbon emisions to a minimum. We were all camping! A little camping area had been set up at the entrance to the woods, where tents had been pitched, and for a split second I could have been at any of the summer festivals – coloured tapers adorned the trees and homemade signs with directions had been painted.

Next up – food and booze. The food was incredible, and all locally sourced to reduce the environmental impact. A delicious hog roast, provided by local butchers, was layed on for the meat eaters, but the menu was, by and large, vegan. Lydia’s mum had made a gorgeous mushroom en croute to accompany Ecoworks’ delicious selection of salads.

The food! Illustrated by Kayleigh Bluck

Ecoworks is a community organisation based in Nottinghamshire with ‘the interests of people and the environment at its heart’. They work on conservation and restoration projects and run the FRESH project, which champions regeneration, education in sustainability and health.

They also run courses on how to grow their lovely organic fruit and vegetables and healthy eating. Their Harvest Café van caters at festivals and events and specialises in vegetarian and vegan food (they provided spuds with yummy dahl in the evening, and a veggie breakfast the following day – not that I enjoyed any of the latter as I was nursing a hangover).

Lydia and Nathan in front of their teepee, photographed by Paul Saxby

Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Illustration of Polly by Naomi Law

Crude by Liberate Tate

On Saturday October 16th 2010 a whole host of activists are gearing up to take part in a massive demonstration against the crimes of the oil industry in central London. The Crude Awakening protests come not a moment too soon for all those who have suffered at the hands of BP in the Mexican Gulf, stuff Shell in the Niger Delta, and at the hands of countless other oil companies at countless other places across the globe. And still climate change continues apace: this year alone we’ve also seen devastating floods in Pakistan and dreadful droughts in Russia as the glaciers at our poles continue to break apart.

BP oil paint tate

Our love affair with oil is of course helping to drive not only climate change but climate injustice, and yet we are doing nothing to finish our relationship: oil is such a huge part of our lives and continues to lubricate not only the pockets of the rich but the pockets of our arts institutions.

For this reason Liberate Tate and other activists staged another intervention at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall yesterday – ahead of a Tate Board of Trustees meeting. I was supposed to head down and join them but I’ve been somewhat snowed under since my return from Denmark, and fortunately it was recorded very beautifully without me by Felix of You and I Films. At around 5pm a number of black robed activists walked solemnly into the hall and formed a circle before placing tubes of black oil paint on the floor. Then one by one they created their artwork ‘Crude’ by spraying out a great starburst of black oily paint. It was signed and offered to the Tate Modern for its collection.

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Although the Tate has signed up to the 10:10 campaign the institution clearly takes a very narrow view of how it can become more sustainable at the same time as challenging climate change. At a time when public funding cuts will force the arts into ever tighter corners it ultimately remains supremely important that influential organisations such as the Tate think long and hard about where their money comes from. Demonstrations such as these can only serve to increase awareness of how we fund our arts. Anyone is welcome to get involved with Liberate Tate, and I would also urge you to sign up for updates from the good people behind the Crude Awakening protest. Put Saturday October 16th 2010 in your diary now.

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Categories ,1010, ,BP, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Injustice, ,Crude Awakening, ,Gulf of Mexico, ,Liberate Tate, ,Niger Delta, ,Shell, ,Tate Modern, ,You and I Films

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