A couple of years ago I had the idea for an arts prize to help foster a closer relationship with nature. I’m pleased to say that, thanks to the support of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Selfridges, Tileyard London, Martyn Ware and musician Sam Lee, the prize has been launched, focussed for now at least on music. The idea is simple:
To tune in and celebrate nature.
By noticing nature, its beauty, the joy and calm it brings, the need to care for nature and the meaning it brings to our lives.
As has been highlighted in the current pandemic, the human relationship with the rest of nature is important for our wellbeing, yet the climate and environment emergencies show that the human relationship with the rest of nature is broken. We need, now more than ever, a new and more connected relationship with nature and music can help remind people that nature matters.
The competition is for musicians and singer/songwriters aged 16-29 and resident in the UK whose work fosters a stronger relationship with nature. We’re searching for a piece of original music that tunes into nature – helping to highlight the need for a new relationship with nature and provide vital support for young artists. The winning entry will receive a £1,000 grant (sponsored by Selfridges as part of its Creativity is Not Cancelled campaign) to support their work and also benefit from a free professional remix with Tileyard London, produced by award-winning songwriter and producer Martyn Wares, well as the invitation to perform at Timber Festival in 2021. In addition, selected entries will be broadcast through all of Selfridges’ stores on a celebratory weekend in the autumn. Further details and how to enter before 31 July 2020 can be found at www.ysp.org.uk/tune-into-nature-music-prize
Inspiration for the prize came from a number of sources.
2 – Nature features less and less in popular culture and this shows that nature means less in our lives. Analysis of song lyrics from 1950 has shown this decline and culture is key to a new relationship with nature. Music can speak in a different way to different audiences.
3 – Evidence shows that young people lose their connection with nature rapidly, reaching a lifetime low in their teenage years before slowly rising again through their 20s to levels still not high enough for a sustainable future.
4 – The arts provide a natural way to explore the pathways to nature connectedness.
Finally, and coincidentally, in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth last year, Sir Bob Watson, lead scientist of the IPBES global assessment report on biodiversity, asked a number of questions he felt were key to a sustainable future – we need to ask how do we become more in tune with nature?
For a little inspiration, here’s some of my favourite classics and more recent tracks (and as a playlist) that are tuned into nature through the pathways to nature connectedness: senses, beauty, emotion, meaning and compassion:
- Stevie Wonder – Summer Soft
- Cosmo Sheldrake – Cuckoo
- Anamanaguchi – Flora Fauna
- Bill Callahan – Jim Cain
- Martyn Bennett – Blackbird or Swallowtail or Peewits or many others
- Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
- Concept Of Thought – Misty Blue ft. Daisy Drage
- Nina Simone – Feeling Good
- Childish Gambino – Feels like Summer
- OneRepublic – Truth to Power
- Gil Scott-Heron – I Think I’ll Call It Morning
- Johnny Flynn – Queen Bee
- Kool & the Gang – Summer Madness
- Joe Corfield – Wildflower
- Jo Hamilton – Think of Me
- Xavier Rudd – Follow The Sun
- Rufus Thomas – Funky Bird
- Jon Hopkins – Autumn Hill
- The Beatles – Here Comes the Sun
- Rachel Unthank & The Winterset – Blackbird
- Simon & Garfunkel – April Come She Will
- Nick Mulvey – In Your Hands
- The Mutton Birds – Nature
- Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
I’m looking forward to listening to the entries later in the summer.