Caernarfon Conference – Resilience

The third Emergence conference from the Volcano & Sustain Wales partnership held in March 2011 at Galeri, Carnarvon.

‘What art does clearly is engage with our emotions; it connects to the emotions and
the spirit and can build images of the future that can both frighten and inspire’. Jean Boulton.

21st March 2011
Galeri, Caernarfon

The third Emergence event in Galeri, Caernarfon followed hot on the heels of the second on 21st March 2011. Arranging another event so soon after the Swansea conference on ‘Interconnectivity’ was in some ways foolhardy as it greatly stretched our energy and resources. However the speedy turnaround also meant that the narrative could really continue to develop. The intention of Caernarfon ‘Resilience’ was to focus on activism, however it was also important that the three conferences had space and flexibility to develop organically.
We were interested in trying to unpick the often unhelpful word ‘sustainability’, whilst at the same time trying to find ways to define the concept of emergence and casting ourselves forward into the future. It might be argued that in order to kick-start the conversation around the role of the arts in co-creating a sustainable future we should have one conversation in all three places – Cardiff, Swansea and Caernarfon. This conversation could then be repeated in as many different places as possible. This would be one strategy but instead we chose with each event to develop the narrative.

Each conference was a learning process for everyone involved and each influenced the nature, form and content of the next. These three events could in some way be said to illustrate emergent learning. Emergence was not then and is not still an organization – it is a focus, a spotlight, a roof or umbrella, under which to collect and converse.

Emergence had organised two events in South Wales and had not provided simultaneous translation (largely due to funds) at either, so it became crucial to create an event which put both English and Welsh on the same footing. At this stage we began to think about bilingualism within the context of sustainability, what it might mean and what opportunities it might offer us to think differently about the subject. In the shadow of the knowledge of species extinction the loss of language is yet another example of how our planet is becoming less rich in diversity. As we began to consider biodiversity and emergence it became evident that resilience develops in a system as a consequence of increased diversity. In this way bilingualism had a deep-rooted meaning for the project. The emergent theme of ‘resilience’ appeared to arise out of the first and second event of its own accord. We began to look for speakers local to North Wales and from farther afield who could speak to this theme and interpret it in their own ways.

Although the smallest of the events run so far, it was one of the most exciting. The mix of science and art was central to the event, as was the marrying of Welsh and English and the synthesis of utopian dreaming with down-to-earth projects.