Since 2016 has run a number of major events generally referred to as our ‘Creative Summits’. They are:

Evolving the Forest

June 19-21 2019, Dartington Hall


They are the stuff of myth and fairy tale, fear and desire. We revere them for their age and beauty. We climb them, nurture them, carve them as memorials of lost loves, preserve them. We plant them. We cut them down to build houses and make toothpicks. We bring them into our houses in celebration of festivals whose historic roots we have long forgotten, or simply lost touch with. We build houses in them, bringing wings to our flights of fancy. Poets, artists and the weavers of stories continue to find inspiration in them, as they have for millennia.

Trees are perhaps the most ubiquitous objects in our lives. Despite the fact that some countries – like our own – are largely denuded of ancient forest, we still feel a powerful tug of something primitive, ghostly even, as we look on a vast oak or a towering ash.

Evolving the Forest is a three-day symposium drawing together a wide variety of voices to explore our wondrous heritage of woodland and forest. It marks 100 years of modern forestry in the UK and looks forward to the next hundred, incorporating the annual conference of the Royal Forestry Society.  We hear the voices of foresters, environmental managers, policy-makers, scientists and other experts; we listen to artists and architects, writers, philosophers and others who wander and wonder in our varied British forests; and we learn from others around the world about their own cultural connections to trees, and the wood that produces some of the world’s most useful and most beautiful objects. 

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tales and tellings of watery worlds and fluid states

June 20-22 2018, Dartington Hall


If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water’ — Loren Eiseley The Immense Journey (1957)

Water. We are 60% water. 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in it. 97% of that water is in our oceans, which daily ebb and flow as we get nearer or further from the moon. It’s the substance of life, of mystery and myth, of joy and despair, of frivolity and fear, of war, of death.

We gathered here at the edgeland, in England’s southwest peninsula where water wraps around us and is dominant in our daily lives. Go much further on your journey to the westerly edge of Britain, and you fall into the sea. Our island-ness feels palpable here.

At this creative summit we explored watery worlds and the state of being liquid; we spoke of water as an element in and of transition. Water on the move with places to go; water as muse; water as a wild, uncontrolled element of the sublime; water as solid or gas; water as a boundary, as edgeland; water as an ecological healer or indicator of environmental distress; water as an agent of immersion, as a former of landscapes, stronger than rock; water as mediator of political power and cultural agency. Drought.

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In Other Tongues

June 7-9 2017, Dartington Hall


Two things that excite me about In Other Tongues are the inclusion of both critical intellectual inquiry alongside artistic expression in pursuit of both the troubling and celebrating of non-human communication. Likewise is doing this work in a beautiful setting with access to the river and the land, in a part of the country that I’m drawn to for its spirit and the eco-centred ethic of the local population.

Christos Galanis (Organising Committee / Presenter)

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Feeding the Insatiable

November 9-11 2016, Dartington Hall


Energy is an old, wily creature to walk with. It rises from the heat of the Earth’s core, falls in a sunbeam, comes with the tide to form cliffs. It takes people and places, time and technology, to transform and transport energy (it can never be destroyed). How to walk with this ethereal power, and tell its stories? How to imagine and write its futures?

Laura Watts (keynote speaker)

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Language, Landscape & the Sublime

June 29-30 2016, Dartington Hall & Sharpham House


This two-day symposium drew together artists and thinkers from a wide range of disciplines to explore ways in which landscape –– and the ways we represent it –– connects deeply to our lives and underpins our relationship to the world.  The contemporary array of narratives of landscape expose how we feel about (and how we become estranged from) this astounding place we all share. As we contemplate the fragility of our planet fearful narratives confound our complex and worried entanglements with the world around us.

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