Spotlight: Artists and Sustainability – Gregory Herbert

Posted on 30 June 2021

This month we have asked Gregory Herbert to contribute to our series Spotlight – Artists and Sustainability where we are asking artists to share short responses about their work and how it might relate to climate change.

Herbert lives and works Liverpool. His practice explores the vast entanglement of interactions that organisms and non-human entities have within their environments, Herbert often taking influence from models of collaboration and coexistence. Herbert has been invited by Castlefield Gallery to give a talk about his practice on Tuesday 27 July (book tickets here) and in 2018 he was part of the inaugural Castlefield Gallery/a-n International Delegation to Budapest.

In what ways do you feel your work might relate to issues of climate change and sustainability, in the content of the work, its narrative, conceptually or theoretically? How might it speak to or challenge public discourse?

In a political economy of consumption and growth, we have become removed from listening to the earth’s stories. My work investigates stories of the non-human, often exploring Symbiosis – the interaction between two different organisms living close together to open a dialogue about alternative collaboration, consciousness and economies to teach us how to build a deeper connection with the natural world.


With regards the materials, processes and techniques you use to produce your work, are there any practical decisions you make with regards climate change and sustainability?

Since I made a work called Club Myrmecophytes which explored how ant colonies in the Swiss mountains have started sharing resources, I have become particularly interested in open source softwares like Blender and Unreal engine. These 3D software’s have theoretically and practically changed my practice with the way that a vast array of knowledge and software is shared freely online.


In general, how do you feel galleries, art spaces, artworks and artists, might be able to contribute, what if any role do you feel they can play in a progressive conversation?

Through listening to the earth and its stories we can start to learn from the dialogues and use them to create alternative realities of reciprocity, by using our platforms we can start to change the narrative around sustainability and the climate emergency by promoting systems of co-existence, intersectional environmentalism and non-violence to all living things.


Are there any tips or advice, anything you have learnt you might want to share with other artists or our audiences?

Some recommendations to look up would be : Braiding sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; Staying with the trouble by Donna Haraway; Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake; The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing; Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer; Emergence Magazine Podcast; and the Yikes Podcast.

June 2021: Gregory Herbert


Image: Gregory Herbert, We Are Symbiotic – Frog