Oiled bird, credit: D.Rodrigues / UNEP / Still Pictures
I’ve got a framed photo in my bedroom and one of my friends has got the exact same one on the shelf in his kitchen. The photo is of a Montagu’s harrier, the centre of a wildlife watching project that I worked on, gliding on grey-blue wings and staring imperiously down from it’s lofty flight towards the camera. The picture is a good few years old now and on catching up with my friend the other week, we both pondered what made us keep this particular photo on show. We decided that it’s not just the birds steely natural grace, the refinement of poise, or the harrier’s obvious vigour and strength, but also what it reminds us of. What we remember whenever we catch a glance of the image on the way to switch the radio off or just as we lock the door on the way out to work.
For me photographs have the ability to summon up a mood from the pit of my stomach or remember a feeling that I had long forgotten. When I first saw Mark Edwards’s Hard Rain presentation I was sitting at work. A group of us had been told about it in passing. It was a series of images set to a Bob Dylan soundtrack that showed one man’s personal account of climate change. Being part of an environmental conservation organisation and, if we’re honest, because we all knew one or two Bob Dylan tracks off by heart, this was something we all wanted to know more about.
My Montagu’s harrier photo means a lot, but no set of images has ever struck me more than the Hard Rain presentation. Neither, in a mere five minutes, has anything proven more the enormity of consequence that we as human beings face if we continue our headlong collision with nature. The idea could seem trite I suppose. There’s nothing more off putting than becoming a cinematic voyeur of climate change. We’ve also all heard the usual apocalyptic stories. Ice caps melting, rainforests destroyed. So why does the Hard Rain presentation feel so right? I think its Edwards’s ability to translate what could seem like a mind blowing theory into words that are tangible for people like me, my work colleagues, you, our neighbours. Beneath an image of an oiled bird, its red eyes glaring from beneath a coating of filth Edward’s writes. ‘It is easy to become paralyzed by the scale of our environmental problems, but as individuals we can act immediately to reduce our environmental footprint. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.’
Do what you can – come and see the Hard Rain presentation and hear Mark Edward’s speak on Thursday 28 October from 7 pm at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. Tickets cost £5 and can be bought at www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk