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MIMAEnvironmental artistic thematic

Environmental Artistic Thematic – MIMA

According to a recent study by the Natural History Museum, the UK has only half of its natural biodiversity left. Human activity, including agriculture and industrialisation, has depleted nature, with many consequences for human lives. The Tees Valley is an area of massive industrial production, with emissions per person almost three times the UK average and consequential loss of biodiversity.

Artists have an important role to play in the space of nature recovery, especially by reimagining and creating a more sustainable future. In 2019, MIMA dedicated its artistic programme to exploring climate change, nature and the environment. We hosted and curated a series of three major exhibitions and connected public programmes. In each programme, we asked visitors and participants to consider connections between global issues and their own environments and lives.

Liquid Crystal Display (February to June 2019) looked at peculiar forms of media between humans and technology, especially the liquid crystals under the screens of our smartphones, computers, televisions and projectors. By seeing machines as mineral constructions, the project drew attention to the environmental impact of their production and consumption. Co-curated by MIMA Director Laura Sillars and Angelica Sule, it included works by more than 28 artists.

Fragile Earth (June to September 2019) examined relationships between plants, animals and humans at a time of climate crisis, and featured works by 22 artists based around the world. Curated by MIMA Head of Programmes Elinor Morgan, it formed part of an extensive public programme of talking, making and exploring the Tees Valley, involving communities, artists and specialists.

For Many Voices (October 2019 to February 2020) was the first survey exhibition for artist Mikhail Karikis, amplifying voices which may be unheard, unseen and structurally neglected in different geographical settings around the world. Mikhail Karikis is Professor of Fine Art at MIMA School of Art and Design.

Through 2019 MIMA built important relationships with leaders of our Tees Valley local nature partnership and with activists driving forward Natural England, the lead advisory agency for the government on the recovery of nature. We held conferences, commissioned artists and worked with communities to understand their hopes. A travelling garden and environmental project, The Barrow, moved between four sites around Teesside and engaged over 600 people. We brought new considerations of the environment and biodiversity loss to life for our audiences and participants.

MIMA is a member of the Borderlands consortium, made up of MIMA, Tees Valley Nature Partnership, Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, North Star Housing and Future Regeneration of Grangetown. Borderlands is a Creative People and Places project funded by Arts Council England, Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Council and Redcar and Cleveland Council. The environment is one of Borderlands’ key themes, involving communities and partners to build creative engagement with the area’s physical and natural environments.

Since November 2020 the team at MIMA has been working with climate scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, with Natural England partners, the Tees Valley Nature Partnership, with Borderlands and with networks of naturalists and ecologists. We have discovered a deeply engaged global network, struggling to make its message heard. As a home for artists and designers (including 400 new and emerging ones), MIMA will continue to activate its strengths, as part of growing networks, to reimagine and create the future.


We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

We are interested in your views on the case studies so please choose to like/ dislike each case study.