Eco-Anxiety and Finding Beauty in Adversity

Eco-Anxiety is a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness brought about by fear of the existential threat that climate change portends. Art can come to the rescue! Finding beauty (and peace) in difficult situations makes society uncomfortable, but it can prevent us from spiralling into despair. There is concern that by not reacting and resisting, we somehow validate that which shouldn’t exist. But if we protect our well-being by detaching ourselves to the extent that we can appreciate the aesthetics of damage, then perhaps we will see situations more clearly.

Many fear that from a place of peace, it becomes harder to work for change but equally, as tensions mount, it becomes more difficult to find ways to move forward. Perhaps finding beauty in adversity (within reason) is not to avoid the problem, but to see it in ways so different that the range of solutions occurring to us suddenly expands.

My recent art works GHOST DANCE I & II, consider this further. Inspired by fishing nets lost at sea (known as “ghost nets”), they explore the potential for intense beauty in our impact on the natural world. Many animals die by being caught in these lost nets so they represent the destruction of the environment but at the same time, the possible creation of new environments as they become host to new underwater communities. With these and other works in this series, I’m hoping to project the hidden beauty behind a highly charged subject, to perhaps create a shift in thinking that will stimulate an emotional response not usually associated with the subject matter. Our life in nature leaves many marks and some will eventually become one with the canvas, at which point we can be free to enjoy them for what they are and not for the damage they might potentially cause or have caused.

lisa heath artist blog