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Of the Earth: a conference exploring art, design, writing and the environment


of the earth conference poster

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Further information

Standard speaker/delegate rate, £85
Research students & independent artist-researchers, unwaged rate £20
Plymouth University/University of Sunderland staff/students, free (but please register).
Registration: Plymouth University estore
Food – tea/coffee and lunch (but not evening meal) are included in the registration fee. Please ensure that you specify any dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian; gluten free)
Accommodation –
Travel - The University is next door to Plymouth Railway Station. 
There is no parking available on campus; there are city center car parks nearby. 
The Roland Levinsky Building is at the South end of the campus, see

Exhibition - WALK ON (Sept 20 – Dec 13 2014) is being brought to Plymouth thanks to a partnership between Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University; Plymouth Arts Centre; Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art. Details and opening hours:

WALK ON has been curated by Mike Collier of WALK (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge), a research center at the University of Sunderland, and Cynthia Morrison-Bell of Art Circuit Touring in collaboration with Alistair Robinson, Curator, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.


Mike Collier (exhibition co-curator)
Carol McKay, Walter Lewis (University of Sunderland)
Simon Standing, Liz Wells (Plymouth University)
Michele Allen (co-organiser and conference admin)
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Conference Keynotes

Friday 24th October

Off path, counter path: contemporary collaborations in landscape

Harriet Tarlo and Judith Tucker

Poet, Harriet Tarlo, and artist, Judith Tucker, have walked and worked collaboratively together since 2011 on “Tributaries” (W. Yorks) and “Excavations and Estuaries” (the Humber). They reflect here on whether inter-disciplinary collaborative practice might be a means to explore more open, environmentally aware engagements with landscape and place, might work counter to inherited nostalgic, grandiose or sentimental presentations of “the art of walking” to offer audiences with fresh perspectives of the complex relationship of our bodies to the environments through which they move. They draw on their own shared practice and that of others such as Frances Presley and Irma Irsara, Thomas and Laurie Clark and Deirdre Heddon’s and Misha Myers’ Walking Library.

Harriet Tarlo is a poet and academic with an interest in land, place and environment. Publications include Poems 1990-2003 (Shearsman 2004), Nab (etruscan 2005) and Sound Unseen with Judith Tucker (Wild Pansy, 2013). She is editor of The Ground Aslant: An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry (Shearsman, 2011).  Essays in books appear in critical volumes published by Edinburgh University Press, Salt, Palgrave, Rodopi and Bloodaxe. Recent critical and creative work appears in Pilot, Jacket, Rampike, English, the Journal of Ecocriticism (JoE) and Classical Receptions. Tarlo edited a special feature on “Women and Eco-Poetics” for How2 Vol 3: No 2. Exhibitions of texts in collaboration with artists, Jem Southam and Judith Tucker, have appeared at The Lowry, Salford, Tullie House, Carlisle; Musee de Moulages, Lyon and The University of Minneapolis. She is Course Leader for the long-established M.A. Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

Judith Tucker is an artist who considers place through drawing and painting. She has exhibited extensively both in the UK and abroad.  Recent exhibition venues are very wide ranging and include Lyon, France; Brno, Czech Republic; Minneapolis and Virginia, USA.  She is in the School of Design at the University of Leeds where she runs the B.A Art and Design and supervises her PhD students. She writes academic essays, which can be found in journals and in books published by Rodopi, Macmillan, Intellect and Gunter Narrverlag, Tübingen. She is co-convenor of two place –based networks Land2 and Mapping Spectral Traces. She has recently been invited to be one of the artists in Contemporary British Painting a new platform for contemporary painting in the UK.

The Edge of Extinction: Reflections on Methods of Engagement with the Land

Jules Pretty OBE

This keynote talk will reflect on how direct methods and styles of engagement with land and nature can result in new insights and stories. These have the potential to change both us and our behaviours and practices that shape our finite planet.

Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, where he is also Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Essex, and. His books include The Edge of Extinction (2014), This Luminous Coast (2011), The Earth Only Endures (2007), and Agri-Culture (2002). He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Arts, former Deputy-Chair of the government’s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, and has served on advisory committees for a number of government departments and research councils. He was a member of two Royal Society working groups that published Reaping the Benefits (2009) and People and the Planet (2012), and was a member of the UK government Foresight project on Global Food and Farming Futures (2011). He received an OBE in 2006 for services to sustainable agriculture, and an honorary degree from Ohio State University in 2009. More details at

Saturday 25th October

Walking Stories

Jem Southam

Walking Stories features a catalogue of walking narratives across millennia, which will act to contextualise contemporary approaches to photographing the land. In particular the talk will consider how different states of walking influence the nature of an individual's engagement with their world.

Jem Southam was born in Bristol in 1950 and studied photography at the London College of Printing before working at as designer and photographer at Arnolfini. Since 1986 he has lived and taught in Devon, and is currently Professor of Photography at Plymouth University. His published works include: The Red River 1989; The Raft of Carrots 1992; Rockfalls, Rivermouths and Ponds 2000; The Painter’s Pool 2005; The River/Winter 2012.