Welcome! ~ Sonia Hankova ~ Education/Art/Science ~ E-Mail: sonia.hankova@gmail.com ~ Phone: +61 425 703 860

Art and sculpture

In a traditional sense the concept of sustainability characterises management of natural resources with a renewable and regenerative attitude that ensures long-term exploitation without depletion and damaging effects, assuming infinity of possibility (Tilbury et al., 2002). Kagan (2014); Selby and Kagawa (2010); Somerville et al. (2011); Sterling (2010) draw attention to our data-driven reliance on scientific rationality to addressing sustainability issues, suggesting these prevent us from being fully responsive to the issues facing the world — keeping us stuck in the past and the present, reducing sustainability to mere extrapolation.

Thus, in order to address these concerns and move towards a more sustainable future we need to first connect on an emotional level, ‘give space to the poetic and the numinous’ (Selby & Kagawa, 2010, p. 44) — emotional experiences allow us to internalise for ourselves what we observe through the feelings and meanings they evoke in us (Somerville et al., 2011).

The cultural dimension of sustainability has developed increasingly over the past decade at different levels of discourse, combining ecological urbanism, architecture, technologies, artistic projects; it aimed at engaging a reflection of the role of culture in the transformation of our relationships with the environment (Tilbury et al., 2002).

The Tutzinger Manifest (2001) (in the context of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002) makes a clear call for the integration of culture and the arts to sustainability strategies stating:

If sustainability is to be attractive and fascinating, if it is to appeal to the senses and convey meaning, then beauty becomes an elementary component of a future that has a future, a way of life to which all people are entitled. ... It is critical to integrate participants with the ability to bring ideas visions and existential experiences alive in socially recognisable symbols rituals and practices’. (p. 1)

Professor John Robinson of the University of British Columbia (in Zammit-Lucia, 2013) has commented on the role of arts to sustainability, arguing that ‘our failure to address environmental issues is not a failure of information but a failure of imagination’ — if we are to imagine truly alternative futures, he says, we must adopt a fundamentally different approach to sustainability, ‘we must explore worlds, social structures, habits and cultures that seem almost unreal, but which also surprise, challenge and disturb’ (n. pag).

Artistic practices afford us such a journey — they take us out of our logical and analytical mind into a different space where almost anything is possible; where the challenge is to look at the world in different ways, creating new stories that are sufficiently alternative to the reality we already know.

Selby and Kagawa (2010) suggest that effective climate change education should helps learners cultivate a ‘sense of oneness and interconnectedness with nature through poetic and spiritual ways of knowing such as attunement, awe, celebration, enchantment, intuition, reverence, wonder and oceanic sense of the openness of being’ (p. 44). Integrating all aspects of sustainability with culture and art, such as we find at Heide, brings us one step closer to achieving these goals.

As such, art plays an important role in transforming sustainability education; Kagan (2014) suggests, places such as Heide, where art, culture, people and ideas intersect with science, environment and sustainability create emotional investments between people and the natural world. Outdoor sculptures along Heide’s Sustainability Art Trail create a bridge between nature and culture and allow us to not only engage our emotions but also critically think about the ways we view sustainability.



Kagan, S. (2014). Art and sustainability: Connecting patterns for a culture of complexity. London, England: Transcript Verlag.

Selby, D., & Kagawa, F. (2010). Runaway climate change as challenge to the ‘closing circle’ of education for sustainable development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 4(1), 37-50.

Somerville, M., Power, K., & de Carteret, P. (2011). Landscapes and learning: Place studies for a global world. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

Sterling, S. (2010). Living in the Earth Towards an Education for Our Tim. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 4(2), 213-218.

Tilbury, D., Stevenson, R. B., Fien, J., & Schreuder, D. (2002). Education and sustainability: Responding to the global challenge. Cambridge, England: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Tutzinger Manifest. (2001). Tutzinger Manifest: For the strengthening of the cultural-aesthetic dimension of sustainable development. Bonn, Germany: Institute fur Kulturpolitik der Kulturpolitischen       Gesellschaft.

Zammit-Lucia, J. (2013). The art of sustainability: imagination, not spreadsheets will create change. The     Guardian. Accessed 1st Nov, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-    business/art-sustainability-imagination-create-change