‘The Squirrel’s Heartbeat’ is a series of conversations ruminating on the environment, art and activism, part of Fiona Banners' (aka The Vanity Press) 2020/21 research residency at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve.
Contributors included Lucia Pietroiusti, Omar Kholief, Johanna Gibbons & Michael Smythe.
The episodic artwork has been published incrementally on Instagram from December 2020 onwards. The series eloquently explores a broad range of topics pertinent to the current times, while sensitively documenting and celebrating the unique brilliance of Bethnal Green Nature Reserve.
'The Squirrels Heartbeat' featuring Lucia Pietroiusti
The first episode of The Squirrel's Heartbeat features Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator of General Ecology at Serpentine Galleries. The title of this series comes from a George Eliot quote which Lucia referred to during this conversation, “If we had a keen vision and a feeling of all ordinary human life it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence… As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.”
It stuck with Fiona as a meditation on language, the medium of their discussion and also the topic of it... but it is also about naming, and in turn classification, and in turn gender (Mary Ann Evans took the name George Eliot in order in order to create an ambiguity around her gender), and in turn the non-binary nature of nature itself and the conundrums we have in naming it or attributing words to it.
The second episode of The Squirrel's Heartbeat features Dr Omar Kholeif, discusses good hair days, bad hair days, foxes, nature, language, the internet, lockdown, anxiety, isolation, and the environment. Dr Omar Kholeif is an author, curator and cultural historian, whose recent book Art in the Age of Anxiety is now available. The book examines the bombardment of information, misinformation, emotion, deception, and secrecy in online and offline life in the post-digital age.
'The Squirrels Heartbeat' featuring Michael Smythe
From the freezing cold garden shed at Phytology, Fiona Banner & Michael Smythe talk about the Phytology project at large, from the medicinal garden, social sculpture, to the politics around space in the city and the Mobile Apothecary. They also discuss Klang which having been removed from DEFRA is now at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve where it is a talking stone for these conversations.
'The Squirrels Heartbeat' featuring Johanna Gibbons
Tai chiest, tai treeist… Johanna Gibbons, landscape architect and tree lover talks about urban forestry and soil as the most ancient form of internet: the wood wide web.
This is the fourth episode of The Squirrel's Heartbeat, recorded in the woodland at Phytology.
Listen to the full episode on all podcast platforms under The Squirrel's Heartbeat (link below).
Recorded at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust, overlooking the Phytology Medicine Garden.
Stay tuned as more episodes are published over the next few months...
Supported by Arts Council England and Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust.
©2023 Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust