EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Environmental resilience in rural Wales (UK): the role of art in scientist-artist-farmer engagement 

Elizabeth Follett1, Penelope Turnbull2, Lorna Davis3, Catherine Wilson1, and Jo Cable4
Elizabeth Follett et al.
  • 1Hydro-environmental Research Centre, School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
  • 2Penelope Turnbull Designs, Somerset, United Kingdom
  • 3SuDSplanter Ltd., Bradford on Avon, United Kingdom
  • 4School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Farmers manage 88% of Wales’ land area, maintaining and enhancing the natural environment for aesthetic enjoyment and wellbeing of the wider population. Their provision of ecosystem services ranges from habitat creation and management to water storage to reduce flood impacts and carbon capture. The benefits of sustainable farming in the UK have gained particular relevance as climate change is expected to increase summer storm intensity and temperature, with increased sediment runoff and reduced river water quality. To improve understanding of Welsh farmers’ perspectives on sustainable farming actions and develop targeted information delivery, we discussed decision-making processes towards sustainable farming actions and suggestions for the future of Welsh farming with farmers in three catchments (Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey).  Outputs presenting information on sustainable farming actions were revised following participant feedback, with revisions including watercolour drawings of Welsh farmland with sustainable farming actions, which demonstrated implementation in the Welsh landscape without identifying specific sites. A broader understanding of the tensions experienced by farmers coping with climate change and economic pressures as understood through discussion with farmer-participants was communicated through a mosaic sculpture ‘The Farmer’s Voice,’ which was co-designed with farmers and scientists, together with a professional artist, including incorporation of anonymised phrases from participants in Welsh and English. An initial series of possible designs was created following initial interviews, and the final design was chosen after consultation with farmer-participants. Anonymised feedback on sustainable farming and climate change from further workshops was used to inform more detailed technical drawings. In particular, the role of design and management of tree planting schemes and the historic role of farmers in caring for the environment through coppicing and hedgerow maintenance emerged as significant themes during the project. Technical drawings were approved by farmer-participants, who also suggested inclusion of phrases in Welsh and English. The final sculpture, co-designed in partnership with farmers, scientists, and a professional artist, was created from copper wire, recycled glass, and Welsh slate, representing an abstract tree demonstrating farmer resilience through and need for support and nourishment in the face of climate change. The sculpture will be exhibited at the Royal Welsh Show 2022.

How to cite: Follett, E., Turnbull, P., Davis, L., Wilson, C., and Cable, J.: Environmental resilience in rural Wales (UK): the role of art in scientist-artist-farmer engagement , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11481,, 2022.