SAC # 60

The Expressive Forest: Arts and ecology in New Zealand



TIME | 12 March 2009, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | Seminar Room, Centre for Innovation, 87 St. David St.

SPEAKER | Denys Trussell


Do the arts offer ways of seeing that might help in contending with the unprecedented problems that civilization now faces? Art acts obliquely. It will not, of itself, save the world. Nor of itself will it make us socially and ecologically moral. Its ancient and perennial role is rather to warn us we should be neither grossly anthropocentric nor narrowly ego-centric. Using New Zealand artists and poets to illustrate his talk, Denys Trussell explores the role of art in contributing to an ecological consciousness, and the contribution of an ecological consciousness to animating and regenerating art. His seminar draws from his recent book “The Expressive Forest – Essays on the arts and ecology in Oceania”.

About the Speaker

Denys Trussell is a poet and biographer, a classical pianist and environmentalist. As a poet, he has published seven books, some directly concerned with nature and the place in it of humanity. Much of this poetry has been used by artists in other mediums, notably Dance of the Origin, which was really the text of a major dance theatre production, choreographed by Alison East in 1980. This work focused on the concept of the dancer as symbolizing humanity, inseparable from nature. His most recent publication is The Expressive Forest 2008, a series of philosophical essays on the arts and the natural environment, specifically discussing the arts and artists of Australia and New Zealand.

Trussell founded the Beech Forest Action Committee with Philip Alpers, in 1973, to campaign against the logging of indigenous forests in North Westland. In 1975 he was a founding director of Friends of the Earth. (NZ) Ltd. Since 1980 he has worked closely with Edward Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist in Britain. He is presently on the board of The Pacific Ecologist, one of the several proliferations of the original Ecologist in Britain.

His training as a classical pianist has at times been put to use in ecological causes. In 1980 he toured New Zealand, playing concerts to raise money for Friends of the Earth. He has played concerts also to help in the establishment of a national park in the Paparoas and to oppose the Aramoana smelter proposal. His most recent ecological concert was to help the Native Forest Action group who campaigned successfully to bring to a final finish the logging of indigenous forest on public land in Westland.

Trussell has a doctorate in literature and is the author of the biography of the New Zealand poet and environmentalist, A.R.D. Fairburn. He is based in Auckland, making his living as a musician and as a writer.



Back to 2009 Seminars >

Website by Loop Solutions © 2013 Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment. All rights reserved.

University of Otago

Tel.  | Fax.