In the heart of Dartmoor, where the rugged landscape meets the vibrant pulse of contemporary art, a season of profound exploration is ready to unfold.

Invasion Ecology is an innovative initiative set to challenge traditional perspectives on what it means to be 'native' and the intricate web of belonging that ties humans, flora, fauna, and landscapes together.

At its core lies an enlightening exhibition housed within the rustic charm of Southcombe Barn, nestled in Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

This groundbreaking showcase, orchestrated by Radical Ecology and Southcombe Barn, brings together a diverse cadre of artists including Ingrid Pollard, Iman Datoo, Hanna Tuulikki, Ashish Ghadiali, Fern Leigh Albert, and Ashanti Hare. Their collective works, spanning across installation, performance, moving image, and photography, invite viewers to question ingrained notions and foster deeper empathic connections with the environment.

The genesis of this exploration traces back to the seminal work of Charles Elton, whose 1958 study 'The ecology of invasions by animals and plants' laid the groundwork for contemporary discourse on native and invasive species.

However, Invasion Ecology transcends mere academic inquiry, embracing a decolonial, land-based approach to reframe our relationship with the land. By delving into the annals of history and spotlighting the exploitation and displacement of both flora and fauna, the programme seeks to dismantle the binary distinctions between 'native' and 'invasive', challenging the prevailing narrative of 'othering' species.

"Invasion Ecology encourages us to dig beneath the human/nature binary, to see not only how we are fundamentally part of our environments, but the deeper contradiction in our efforts as a species to segregate ourselves (and our responsibilities) from those environments," remark Vashti Cassinelli and Jelena Sofronijevic, the curators behind this thought-provoking initiative.

The season begins on May 1 with a mesmerizing dawn chorus performance by artist Hanna Tuulikki, setting the stage for an immersive journey of exploration and introspection. May brings forth a solo photographic exhibition titled 'Wild Campers' by activist and photographer Fern Leigh Albert, chronicling the poignant struggle of land rights protesters, Right to Roam, who fought tirelessly to reclaim the freedom to wild camp on Dartmoor.

June heralds the arrival of the group exhibition, Invasion Ecology, coinciding with the public opening of Southcombe Gardens as part of the National Garden Scheme. Throughout the duration of the shows, attendees can engage in decolonial discussions and workshops led by exhibiting artists, authors, gardeners, and foragers. Notable highlights include Ashanti Hare's riveting performance piece 'River That Never Rests', which breathes life into the storied waters of the River Exe, weaving together a tapestry of historical narratives and ecological consciousness.

A participatory performance crafted by Radical Ecology examines the pervasive language surrounding native and invasive species in our gardens, igniting a dialogue on the complexities of ecological stewardship. This enlightening spectacle will embark on a tour of arts venues across Devon and Cornwall, fostering widespread engagement with the themes explored in Invasion Ecology.

Mark your calendars as the season commences with Hanna Tuulikki’s captivating performance on May 1st, followed by Fern Leigh Albert’s evocative solo exhibition, Wild Campers, from May 10th to 25th, 2024. The journey continues with the group exhibition, Invasion Ecology, open for viewing from June 1st to August 10th, 2024.

Invasion Ecology beckons us to transcend the confines of conventional wisdom and embrace a more holistic understanding of our place within the intricate tapestry of the natural world. As Dartmoor becomes a canvas for exploration and enlightenment, it is through initiatives like these that we forge a path towards a more harmonious coexistence with the environment that sustains us all.

Radical Ecology works across art, research, and policy to advance environmental transformation. It collaborates with leading artists, climate scientists, policy-makers, grassroots activists, cultural institutions and research centres to deliver critical interventions and public art projects, nurturing imagination where it is most needed and building community for change. We believe that the collective problems we face demand new collective solutions and so strive to create the conditions for collaboration to emerge that can speak to the complexity of our contemporary worlds and across silos of discipline, geography, species and scale.

Fern Leigh Albert, Wild Campers, 2023 (Fern Leigh Albert)

Planetary Imagination, 2023, installation at The Box in Plymouth (Ashish Ghadiali)

Southcombe Barn gallery (Radical Ecology)

The gallery will open Thursdays-Saturdays: 10am - 3pm, Sundays: 11am - 3pm