Toxic Fragments. Harvesting empathy and coping with ecological grief through touching

Year: 2022

Medium: Social engaging workshop

Dimensions: Variable

Location: Fishing Quarter Gallery. Brighton Seafront. 7th & 10th July 2022

Toxic Fragments is a workshop where participants handle clay and make small objects while talking about the clay’s origins.

In this workshop, Arabel is exploring the act of handling “extractivist soil”, from Parys Mountain in North Wales, an abandoned mine site for copper mining that closed in 1890. In a context where touching “matter that matters” plays a crucial role in engaging deeply, through the workshops she is testing this idea with members of the public.

In these drop-in workshops, participants are safely handling and sculpting super-concentrated ferrous clay, an old scrap product from historical copper mining, while learning about the origin of this soil and its relationship with recent mining disasters, like Brumandinho in Brazil, in January 2019.

The clay workshops further expand themes that were developed during Arabel’s Visiting Fellowship with the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, through her project “Toxic Waves” (2021-2022), which explored if art making, through embodied thinking, can instinctively activate our empathy.