SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Summary  Australia’s natural areas have long been a source of inspiration for artists. Some of this art is a response to the natural environment or represents it in some way, and some is exhibited or performed in the natural environment itself. The objectives of this article are to: investigate the relationship between art and the artists who create it and people who make a living in extension, landcare or on the land; and, develop an understanding of whether the arts can encourage an emotional affinity with the natural environment. Eighty-nine key informant interviews were conducted in Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and Norway, including people working in the arts and people working in natural resources management. Those in the latter group were people who either (i) worked in an extension (outreach) or community facilitation capacity, or (ii) people who played a voluntary role with community on-ground restoration projects or who showed exemplary behaviour towards the environment. All the people working in natural resources management cited examples of visual or performing arts that they had found inspiring, that encapsulated or defined their attitudes towards the natural environment, or which reinforced their attitudes towards the natural environment. From these interviews, the idea of ‘chains of inspiration’ emerged. Each of the ‘chains’ began with people who worked directly on the environment. These people were in turn influenced or inspired by particular art from which they gained an emotional affinity towards the environment. The chains then progressed to the artists who created the art. All of the chains ended up with the natural environment from which the artists drew their inspiration. The paper concludes that by providing an emotional affinity or empathy for the natural environment, art can have a major role in influencing pro-environmental attitudes.