STRATA – art and science collaborations in the Anthropocene

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Organised by Juilan Ruddock and Stephen Tooth

Download Symposium Abststract 


This one day symposium brought together artists and scientists to present papers, images, video and artworks related to the issues of Climate Change, Geography and the Anthropocene.  The symposium was supported by the Visualising Geomorphology Working Group of the British Society for Geomorphology, Aberystwyth University School of Art and Department of Geography and Earth Sciences and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Hannah Sofaer MA(RCA) was a presenter during the first session of the days programme under the discussion heading of ‘The portential for art-science collaborations in a putative Anthropocene’, with a synopsis of her presentation given below.

ADVENT of the Anthropocene:

a model for interdisciplinary practice

Hannah Sofaer

Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust (PSQT) has a long running arts and science based project that has developed a model for regeneration through interdisciplinary practice. It has also recorded a living land archive over 32 years of primary source field study research materials centered on stone; a material that underlies all of our landscapes, where geomorphology underpins the very fragile layer of ecology on which we exist, shaping our civilizations, cultures and economies.

With increased mechanization of the stone industry, and the ever increasing demand for minerals but diminishing supply, PSQT has acted locally to influence globally. It has helped to shape the view of the next generation, creating a new context for collaborations across disciplines to engage fully with the source of raw materials, within industrial, geological, environmental and cultural contexts.

Government research priorities 2003-07, supported by MIRO via the Mineral Industry Sustainable Technology programme (DEFRA/ALSF), made possible two PSQT major R&D projects working across 33 partner organisations. These projects led to new educational frameworks and projects for sustainable environmental designs, informing the House of Commons Geology Select Committee and DTI Minerals Working Group. Dissemination of related projects and innovative research outcomes for the regeneration and after-use of quarry sites through knowledge transfer has impacted on university course content and had a profound influence on professional and student practice.

With the project situated at the centre of 11 contrasting quarry environments, access to geological strata informs our understanding of environments past and present, and future climate change. The interrelationship of art and science and parallel paths of collaboration and experimentation is essential within a growing crisis related to a rapid loss of nature and culture. Environmental ethics and remediation efforts have a chance of impacting upon our future if we are proactive now.


Hannah Sofaer is an artist working with an interdisciplinary approach to geomorphology/geology research on the Isle of Portland, and is presently working with Christian Kerrigan Astudio on a collaborative project.  She has written and delivered student programmes and validated electives on behalf of Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust (PSQT) for universities, with an emphasis on working across art and science. This has involved 21 departments and 5 faculties of the University of Brighton.  PSQT work with art and environmental projects and this has included the work with Ouvre Claus for Art BYPASS where seven standing stones were installed for the first of Seven thousand oaks for the Millennium – as to the wishes of Joseph Beuys.