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Student blog – online art gallery and community The Syzygy Project

Year 3 BA (Hons) Fine Art students Jillian Ballas, Madi Crafer and Rebecca Creed recently launched The Syzygy Project, an online art gallery and community that focuses on matters around the environment. Jillian talks us through how the project came about, what they hope to achieve and the role artists play in sustainability. 

Can you tell us a bit about The Syzygy Project?

The Syzygy Project is an online art gallery and community that focuses on matters around the environment. Our goal is to create a virtual space that celebrates and discusses the partnership between the arts and sciences in the battle against climate change and environmental ignorance. While tackling these issues, we also believe that it is important to create a space where people of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge can share their love and experiences within nature.

I have always seen the importance for community discussion and collaboration, especially within this movement. For a long time I have been wanting to create something of this nature, but it wasn’t until this year that everything aligned and I was able to make this concept a reality with Madi and Rebecca.

Due to continuous lockdowns and quarantines because of Covid-19, I finally had the time to deliberate what this project could look like and because of the inability to do physical shows, the concept of making Syzygy an online gallery emerged. This was a blessing in disguise, because we are now able to collaborate with artists all across the globe. 

How do you think artists can help combat climate change?

Where science brings the facts and figures, I believe that it is the role of the artist to translate this data into something people can relate to and feel. Art is excellent at causing introspection and empathy and this is exactly what the environmental movement needs to move forward.

In order for people to take the necessary steps to reduce their carbon footprint and others, they need to connect emotionally to the cause because without that bond, a commitment to change would never happen.

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Above work by BA (Hons) Fine Art students Jillian Ballas, Madi Crafer and Rebecca Creed.

What are simple actions individuals can take towards making their art practice more sustainable?

One of the biggest things that an artist can do is be conscientious of the carbon footprint of the materials that they use. If an artist realises that the mediums that they use often work with are incredibly damaging to the environment, I encourage them to look for eco-friendly alternatives or research the best way to properly dispose or recycle them.

How does nature and sustainability feature within your own art practice?

Nature and sustainability have always been foundational to my practice. I would consider myself primarily an environmental artist, so ecological concepts and environmentally safe materials has and will always be at the forefront of my mind.

Do you have any favourite artists who inspire your work?

If I had to choose only a handful of artists who have been influential to my practice, it would be American artist John Grade, British artists Jason deCaires Taylor and Tania Kovats, and Canadian artist Susan Point.

How does nature play a part in your daily life?

Wherever I am, I instinctively seek out nature. Whether I am back home in the USA or here in Norwich, I draw inspiration and seek refuge in natural spaces. This could be anything from a visit to the coast or a walk in one of Norwich’s many parks and gardens.

For people wanting to learn more, do you have any recommendations?

For people looking to learn more about the environment, I would recommend these books:

  • “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • “Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace Wells
  • “The Nature of Nature” by Enric Sala
  • “Underland” by Robert Macfarlane

Find out more about The Syzygy Project on their Instagram and website

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