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Second Nature: What is 'nature' anyway?


4 Oct – 21 Dec 2019 (Free public preview Thursday 3 Oct, 6pm-8pm)

Navid Asghari, Jackie Chettur, Oliver East, Louise Hewitt, Jessica El Mal, Ruth Murray, Joanna Whittle

In the Georgian and Victorian eras, science was called Natural Philosophy. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt – the first to identify human-induced climate change – sought to understand people’s place in the world while questioning the use of the term ‘nature’ to justify social structures and political standpoints. Today, alternative debates around nature are reshaping how we think about our relationships with the environment.

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Recent studies show that two thirds of UK adults feel they have ‘lost touch with nature’ and our vocabulary to describe it is diminishing. How might new ideas and definitions of nature affect our priorities, and can reconnecting with the living world help us find solutions to current environmental emergencies and broader social divisions?

Second Nature brings together historic literature and artefacts, up-to-date research and new works by contemporary artists and young people to ask what we mean by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ today and how these terms have been used throughout the modern age.

Poster image: Louise Hewitt.

‘Thus Tess walked on’, Jackie Chettur

‘Thus Tess walked on’, Jackie Chettur

‘Histoire Naturelle’, Comte de Buffon

‘Histoire Naturelle’, Comte de Buffon

‘Duff’, Ruth Murray

‘Duff’, Ruth Murray

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Supported by the Zochonis Charitable Trust, with thanks to Manchester Museum, Venture Arts and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.