Angela Cockayne

The Whale as Muse

Embrace the Future

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The ‘Ark’ is now empty, you are warmly invited to nominate something, someone, an idea, or a species to preserve. The door is open ready to ‘Embrace’ your nominations in this digital vessel of delight and curiosity.

Preserve today for all our tomorrows in an ethical, waterproof cabinet of curiosity. All creatures great and small welcome on board and ideas worth sharing. Your chance to help fill this wooden /virtual vessel with ideas, favourite and wonderful things that need protecting and safeguarding for the future. Message me to include your nomination.

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#workinprogress  #publicart #ArkEmbrace

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Sharkish Talk

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It is now thought that there has been a fifty percent loss of the global population of animals during the last fifty years.

This fills me with a sense of shame, sadness, guilt, and grief, knowing it happened during my lifetime on ‘my watch’ and that somehow even only minutely, like everyone else I’m implicated in this.

At the rate we are going (the loss of biodiversity; 30,000 species a year) this will have a catastrophic effect on our own species.

We cannot reverse as yet the Co2 emissions released over the last 100 years but we could try and restrict its impact. It is a huge challenge for all humanity to try and live more ethically, responding to the impact of climate change.

Unpalatable truths, but it seems like the ‘Tide of time has come for sharkish talk’ to quote Melville if we are to avoid an environmental catastrophe. In the same way we are now beginning to address gender inequality and abuse we need to stand up on massive collective scale to form a new global consciousness responding to global warming.

It has become morally imperative and we need to elect responsible  governments to take collective action on our behalf. The land is pillaged and traded for fossil fuels; oil, gas and coal which pollutes the air we breathe. The oceans have become an unsustainable larder, dump and sewer. We must collectively respect ‘our’ natural environment and resources, because they don’t belong to us, they never did.

Twenty five years ago scientists signed a warning to humanity claiming it was no longer a viable option to consume on a infinite scale. Mother nature is unwell we to need to protect ‘our’ oceans, ‘our’ soil, ‘our’ trees  ‘our’ water, the air we breathe and above all the fellow species with whom we share the planet.  We have behaved like they belong to us for generations selling them to the highest bidder, so perhaps it’s ‘times up’ to take some moral respsonsibility for them.



Small deeds can form a global consciousness

Think sustainably

Consume less

Reduce Reuse and Repair

Travel strategically, plan to combine tasks

Save energy

Save water

Shop local/Think Global

Eat less protein/ meat /dairy

Grow your own food

Incentivise sustainable energy

Recycle more

Protect habitat restore ecosystems

Trade skills and produce with friends

Limit population growth (a difficult one, I have three children )

Shower less, we were born to smell

Wear clothes for longer

Alternatively hide under a barrel, go swimming, or dance like there is no tomorrow.



its later mix smThere have been five mass extinctions in the last half a billion years; scientists today are currently monitoring the current. Asteroid impact is believed to account for the last ; dinosaur extinction, but this time evidence suggests the sixth mass extinction could be preventable as the cataclysm is ‘man made’ and caused by our own impact upon our environment.

Scientists now believe that the sixth mass extinction probably began fifty years ago through overharvesting, habitat destruction, pollution, global warming, alien displacement and human overpopulation. After 4 billion years of evolution, human activities and influences are accelerating the rate of species extinction at an alarming rate.

It has been reported that animal population across the planet has decreased by 80% since 1900. 50% of animals have been wiped off the face of the earth in the last fifty years alone. The ‘normal ‘ expected rate of extinction is 200 species a year; a current estimate is 30,000 species a year. At the current rate of deforestation we have ten years left of the Amazon rainforest, and on our current trajectory only 30 years to fishless oceans.

We have known for over one hundred years that carbon dioxide and man made emissions are harmful to our environment yet we have failed to act on this, even the media prefer to fuel the controversy about its ‘potential’ ever increasing devastating impact, rather than confront the scientific evidence. The oceans like the Amazon rain forests, filter two thirds of the oxygen we breathe. Acidification though sea temperatures rising, is harming vital microscopic plankton for the air we breathe.

Unfortunately it appears that we must wait for a catastrophe greater than the famines in Africa, melting ice caps, radio-active fallouts even more dramatic than the post apocalyptic movies, before we are able to face up to the problems our impact and proliferation has caused for all life form on the planet.

We are I believe at a pivotal point in history, nature will address the balance but perhaps to a world with out mankind if we do not face up to our responsibilities on an collective and international scale. The map is man made we must act beyond territories and plan a future that accommodates for biodiversity, sustainability and an environment for all life to flourish.

In the scheme of things, the blink of 100 years, we seem to have plundered the planet, and continue on a course to potentially devastate our own habitat, a paradise that took billions of years to evolve. Our own future like that of many species may hang in the balance if we continue to consume unsustainably in a finite system, our dominion may also be our downfall.

We have a moral responsibility to protect biodiversity, and time is running out. It is imperative we eliminate Co2 emissions the cause of global warming and climate change and act collectively to stop this catastrophe of our own making… before its too late.

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embrace *mute

It is five hundred years since the Wunderkammer housed a united field of interdisciplinary enquiry, in an age before disciplines became separate under museums of science, nature and art. Fifty years ago CP Snow’s lecture on ‘Two Cultures’ mourned such separation; Edward O Wilson’s recent call echoed the desire for consilience of disciplines through a unity of knowledge.

Perhaps through a reunification, of art, science and nature, exploring a curious even subversive gaze we can confront the sceptical and represent the undeniable evidence of our trajectory through wonderment and engaging visual narratives to reflect upon our actions.

A new short film called Embrace will be screened from 7 November-2 Dec at Newlyn Art Gallery based on an ethical wunderkammer which documents some of the 300 objects installed in a retired wooden fishing vessel. Filmed on midsummers day the film has been described by the author Philip Hoare as ‘A Reliquary of our Age’

Using found materials on Cornish shorelines this interdisciplinary mix of objects, drawings and performance explores a consilience of mythological narrative and ecological concerns through our relationship with the sea, the land and the liminal space in between.

‘Angela Cockayne’s chimeric creations entirely from found materials: the only art we can afford to make in the 21st century?  This work is transcendently beautiful as well as being urgently relevant’ Philip Hoare




Beware Thyself

Fear helps us to stay alive, we are hardwired to react to uncertain and fearful situations. Constant anxiety on the other hand is less good for our health.

We do however seem to be living in an uncertain age where the mass media daily feeds our anxieties for political or corporate gain to the point of saturation.

We can become weary to bad news and made to feel guilty about good fortune and our environmental footprint.

We may no longer fear the bogeyman or the stranger in town, we are too busy worrying about perpetual wars, global warming, government corruption, terrorism, cybercrime, economic collapse let alone our own families, jobs, health or injustice.

It turns out perhaps we should stop worrying so much about the things we have little or no control over, and be more aware of own lifestyles and choices. According to the Atlantic, 2015 was the best year in history to be alive.

Recent american statistics show number of deaths daily within ‘self-control’ compared to 43 murders a day.

890 deaths daily caused by obesity, 241 deaths daily caused by drinking, and 1315 deaths a day related to smoking. 129 suicides a day, 129 accidental overdoses, 97 deaths a day by car accidents.

From Herman Melville’s prophetic masterpiece Moby-Dick

Collectively the stakes are much higher with the environment and the threat of nuclear war again. All we can do is individually try and act responsibly and sustainably and hope that the people we elect to govern us do so with self control. Being kind to others, oneself and our environment for our future generations to enjoy seems a better option than to live in a state constant anxiety.

Propensity for self-destruction

After I finally finished reading Melville’s profoundly prophetic, postmodern and brilliant Moby-Dick (which took three attempts) I was left with the after taste of our fallible propensity for self -destruction.   beware mix sm

I wake up daily to the news, and only this morning hear that Trump has been flying his military might again over the Pacific and fear that nothing has changed despite all our centennial memorials to horrific wars and heartbreaking testaments thinking how did we ever let this happen. Surely we must have learnt something??

Only yesterday I visited a beautiful stately home in Cornwall now part of our collective guilt as it is owned by the National Trust. Inside the mournful house and bucolic grounds I counted along with all the wide-eyed children worryingly doing their quiz activity- a tragic collection of endangered species;


Leopard skin rug x 1


Tiger skin x 2 (or was it 3  ask the children)

Polar Bear x1  (infant)


Moose x 1


Chough x4


Trophy heads and taxidermy a plenty. Even stuffed mice left in traps in the kitchen and servants quarters a curiosity for debate and spectacle.



On reading the supplied blurb of the ten children born to inherit the house, the son and heir also succumbed to the bullet and was also shot.. in WW1 and the younger brother never getting over this committed suicide at a later date leaving the stunning pile without an heir (as daughters non-eligible).

The house is sorrowful everywhere you look, beautiful and privileged sad-eyed children stare from their portraits- full potentials never realised. Glass-eyed Endangered Animals scattered in nurseries and lounges for them to play on a testament to our dominion.

Somethings have changed thankfully even the NH Museum no longer shoots and stuffs animals. World leaders might do well to think more like Moby-Dick rather than Ahab. Sperm Whales have the power to nuke each other with the sonic booms by which they hunt giant squid, but with no castles to defend for sixty million years they choose to live a more sociable existence despite our best efforts to annihilate them.

Warmongers likewise would do better to put down their toys and stop showing each other their nuclear might. The chosen few may sleep better at night knowing they have access to nuclear resistant jets, bunkers with shops, hairdressers, swimming pools and sufficient supplies. But they need to seriously consider the incomprehensibly significant consequences of potential nuclear or biological military action.

There will be no winners in the use of Weapons of mass destruction.
A nuclear or biological war would not just eradicate both ‘enemies’ and civilisation as we know it, but also the plants, pollinators, animals, and microorganisms that facilitate our existence – food, clean air and water.

Who would want to live on this earthly paradise without all creatures great and small that enable our very existence?.

Or perhaps the Sabre rattling and the chosen, have an unlimited supply of insects, bacteria, earthworms, plankton and pollinators in rich supply in their underground bunkers.. a grave prospect either way



Is it later than we think?

Scaring people about climate change does not work. My own brain shuts down at the  prospect of the earth slowly dying. Mother Nature is unwell due to our impact on the environment a fact we have known  for over 100 years but have failed to act upon. Pollution, climate change, habitat destruction, over-consumption caused by human population is having a radical impact on our environment and long-term future. Environmentalists are being assassinated – 97 campaigners so far in 2017  Global Witness. America pulls out of the Paris Accord !!? We fight perpetual wars over power  finance, and resources.

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Is it hopeless? – even worrying about the prospects of an uninhabitable earth, famines, economic collapse is paralysing. Our understanding dictates whether we reach for the cookie jar, bury our heads in the sand at the enormity, or choose to act responsibly.

“In pushing other species to extinction humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches” – Paul Ehrlich


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Can humanity and nature be reconciled and work in unison and harmony – not against each other?. The sixth mass extinction may have begun but hopefully we are still within reach of turning the Imperialist vessel that has driven climate change around.

Accepting the damage we are doing is step one to transforming our environment for all our tomorrows. We must embrace the incredible opportunities – think and act long-term to become carbon neutral and employ best sustainable practice so that nature can begin to heal herself.