WHY ART AND ACTIVISM?
It is no longer enough for me to make art about the Climate Crisis and build a Wildlife Garden - or act as responsibly as I can as an individual. It is time to to speak truth to power as a part of a group and to demand that the government acts now.
We are all on board a ship, which according to the best available science, is rapidly heading towards the rocks. We are entitled and morally obliged to do what we can to prevent the ship going down.
In September I attended an Extinction Rebellion Non Violent Civil Disobedience Training Day. It was very impressive - while echoing all my fears for the future of this beautiful planet it provided a strategy and support to express my very real fears for the future. The people I have met in my subsequent protests and heard about in the media have been the most intelligent, gentle, caring and determined people I have ever met and I am proud to count myself among their number.
Twice in October I took part in the 2 week protest with XR (Extinction Rebellion) in Whitehall and Trafalgar Square. When the government declared a ban on any XR protests anywhere in London, it seemed to me to be an affront to civil liberties and on October 16th 2019 I travelled up to protest once more in Trafalgar Square, knowing that I would be arrested. Trafalgar Square was packed with people - including women with small children to defy this ban. George Monbiot the Environment Correspondent and Campaigner and Jonathan Bartley Co-Leader of the Green Party made their intentions known to sit in Whitehall to draw media attention to Climate Crisis...
I felt it a privilege to sit down, block the road and to be arrested with them.
This is the court statement I wrote before my arrest with my reasons for taking part in Extinction Rebellion protests in October 2019 which sets out why making art and taking part in Non Violent Civil Disobedience became such an important part of my life and practice.
This page contains my personal statement and the following page sets out the science behind Climate Crisis
I make this statement in support of my defence. It is my understanding that according to the common law, an action is not criminal if:
(i) the act is needed to avoid inevitable and irreparable evil;
(ii) no more should be done than is reasonably necessary for the purpose to be achieved;
(iii) the evil inflicted must not be disproportionate to the evil avoided.
It is therefore relevant to my defence to set out for the court in detail, the basis for my conviction that action “is needed to avoid inevitable and irreparable evil”. Because of the length of some of the official climate change reports (some of which are many hundreds of pages long), I include in this statement relevant quotations, together with references to the full documents. It would not be proportionate to print out the documents in full. Copies of original excerpts are included in an exhibit to this witness statement.
I find myself a defendant in court today because I have taken action I believe to be necessary to prevent unimaginable suffering and mass loss of human live. I fear for my own life, and more importantly the lives of my children and grandchildren.
Through the decades I have observed the breakdown of our ecology, the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in animal husbandry, the devastating effect of agro-industry and I have supported ‘Friends of the Earth’ and ‘Greenpeace’.
My professional work is all about Climate Change and Sea Level Rise, making and exhibiting paintings and films on the subject and will soon be working as an artist for a charity dedicated to creating marine reserves and sustainable fishing. I have won an award for my wildlife garden, have solar panels and do all I can to live light on this beautiful planet. I have worked as an Associate Lecturer in the University of the Arts on an Art & Architecture course encouraging future architects to learn about sustainable materials and energy generation.
But the emergency is now so acute, that I feel that ‘Non Violent Direct Action’ has become a necessity - I could not live with myself thinking that I had done nothing to prevent the catastrophic future that my beautiful daughters and my darling three and six year old granddaughters face only a few years ahead. If my actions are deemed ‘criminal’ then so be it. I can not know what I know and fail to act. I have sought in good faith to avoid the greater harm. Jane Baker speaks for me when she says:
‘I am not ashamed of my actions. I feel privileged to be part of Extinction Rebellion demanding that the Government and the Media tell the truth about the ecological collapse and climate crisis, make and implement policies that reflect the vision of zero carbon emissions by 2025 and set up Citizens Assemblies to agree on radical solutions that Government seem unable to consider or deliver. This is beyond politics. This is survival of life on this beautiful planet’
The science is clear – we’re rapidly heading towards catastrophic climate change, and the collapse of the conditions on which civilization depends. An urgent change of trajectory is required, but the Government is ignoring the science and maintaining a trajectory towards disaster. I wish to set out for the Court the factual circumstances, which inform my belief, to assist the Court in determining whether my beliefs are reasonable and my actions proportionate.