Can Art save the world?

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Can art make a difference? What do you think? I mentioned the upcoming conference in Trinity College – “Art in the Anthropocene” – but I didn’t I mention that I was invited to show my work in a group exhibition as part of that conference.

The artists involved in this show will be: Dorothy Cross, Mark Dion, Cathy Fitzgerald, Yvanna Greene, Steve Hurrel, Imelda Healy (curator), Ruth Le Gear, Siobhán McDonald, Helen O’Shea and myself.

There will be some short films, two sound pieces – ‘Seismic Sounds’ from Steve Hurrel and ‘Shark’, a BBC recording of Dorothy Cross – and there is also a marine installation at the Science centre.

painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn 2019

Ok, so ‘the Anthropocene’ is the term for the era (these days) when exponentially expanding human development is destroying the very foundations of life on our planet. The term was first used in the 19th century by John Ruskin, the Victorian art teacher and critic, who also had strong views on the environmental impact of industrialisation.

Well, if you thought that the Industrial Revolution was bad, it was little more than a puff of smoke when compared to the perfect storm that’s heading our way these days – the extreme weather conditions, the mass extinction of species, the plastics in the ocean, the sinister loss of our bees…

But, not to wallow in too much negativity, this conference will be seeking ways forward through all of this, with many thoughtful papers including: “Goodbye to the Anthropocene and Hello Symbiocene” by Cathy Fitzgerald (who also will be participating in the exhibition).

The exhibition, curated by Imelda Healy, will run from the 7th to the 9th of June. People are beginning to engage with the story now, as evidenced by the surge in the Green vote last week. What part had artists to play in this, I’m not really sure – but at least, they try…   Any comments?

Art in the Anthropocene conference

Imelda Healy

Dr Cathy Fitzgerald



  1. That sounds like a brilliant conference. I would love to know more about the Symbiocene. I’ll do an internet search after posting this comment.
    I think artists have a role to play. Art can illustrate the problems we face and depict environmental degradation in chilling ways that have a big emotional, mental and spiritual impact on people. Beyond that art can connect people to the beauty of the natural world. Art can inspire and uplift.


  2. Hi Eoin, Can you tell me where the exhibition will be in TCD 7-9 June and the opening hours? Best, Nancy > > >


    • Hi Nancy, to be honest, I’m not sure – as I’ve just been invited to participate by the curator Imelda Healy. I believe it will be in a smallish room outside the Beckett theatre and it will be during the same time as the festival.


  3. Great news about all your achievements Eoin. What a serious art path you are taking these days. Such a change from the days we worked together at 48 Upper Mount street. More power to you and I am proud to say that with all the changes going on in your life I can still call you my friend.


  4. Fascinating! I’ve just blogged about Ruskin and how art has been didactic for 2,000 years. What do you think about a movement of ‘artists against climate catastrophe?( I know there are many artists who can be said to have climate catastrophe as their theme.) Whereabouts does Ruskin use the word ‘anthropocene’?

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