As the conversation around climate change heats up ahead of COP26 in November, the team behind Culture Night Belfast 2021 have stated their ambitions for an “almost 100% sustainable event” this year.
Partnering with artist and creative lead Gawain Morrison and his team to present the spectacular, experiential installation The Ogham Grove in Writer’s Square, Susan Picken, Director of Culture Night Belfast and the Cathedral Quarter Trust, said she hopes this will be one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly Culture Nights in Belfast.
She said: “We have had a commitment to environmental sustainability for a number of years now so when we were developing the brief for CNB 2021 it was really important to us that it reflected the increasingly urgent global focus on environmental sustainability and on the need for more green, natural and shared spaces in the city.
“We have worked with Translink and other partners over the years to promote active travel, use of public transport and an environmentally responsible approach to waste, and CNB21 builds on this with an even bigger focus on the environment.”
From Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19 Writer’s Square will be transformed into a stunning, immersive, nature-inspired experience.
The Ogham Grove takes inspiration from the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree Alphabet and will see two monumental sculptures built in Writer’s Square, with themes drawn from Celtic ancestral heritage and culture.
“What is important to everyone involved in this project is sustainability and making sure that the materials used in this are not just used and thrown away. We want to be part of the ‘one more use’ thinking or accessing products that are already part of the process flow” said Gawain.
“Using and reusing products was a very important part of our concept and the actual structural delivery of things that people can see.”
Artist and engineer Neil Beattie added: “Top of the agenda is sustainability. It’s very important for all of us that the materials that we use are either reclaimed, reused or recyclable at the least.
“We want to walk away from this project with an extremely small amount of waste. Everything that is used from the timber and the natural materials to even the screws will be reused so very little goes to waste.
“Sustainability is a very important part of our values so it’s a major aspect of what we’re doing. This project allows the opportunity to make something great and be creative whilst using materials that aren’t hazardous to the environment and that is key in all of this.
“The wood we’re using is being taken from an existing process cycle so we’re just taking the materials, using them and returning them. All the timber is being reclaimed and we will be deconstructing it and using it in other projects. The material we’re using outside the structures will either be reused or given to charities like the Play Resource Centre. Nothing goes to waste.”
For artist and prop maker Dylan McCaughtry ensuring there is very little carbon footprint is important.
He said: “A lot of the construction will be made out of multi-use wood which can go straight back into the distribution system. There’s no real footprint from our use of these materials.
“The rest of the wood is reclaimed – stuff that has been used before, so we’re giving it that last bit of life. A lot of it is just about being clever with your sourcing. That’s one of the challenges I’m looking forward to.”
Prior to the pandemic, Culture Night had been one of Belfast’s largest free events, a cultural celebration that attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre.
As a result of the scaled-back, scaled-down nature of the project this year Susan Picken said having an “almost zero waste” year is “within our sights”.
She added: “The biggest change this year is that we aren’t running an open programme for submissions as in previous years.
“As a result, we can be much more mindful of the impact Culture Night is having on the environment around us. There will be less infrastructure, less litter, less travel, fewer people and a lot less plastic ending up in landfills.
“Not just that, it will be a safe environment for people who want to experience art and culture without being concerned about the impacts of the pandemic.”
To keep up to date with updates from CNB Presents The Ogham Grove, running from Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19 go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB21 on social media.