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Survey Discussions

Survey Discussions reach a range of artists to gain an understanding of what their motivations are for creating art and how the planetary crisis informs their practice.

Survey Respondents

A survey discussing art and the environmental that was displayed at RMIT university in multiple art precincts. Ten individuals participated in the survey. The survey respondents were all artists; 60% always discuss aspects of the planetary crisis in their art, 30% sometimes discussed it, and 10% did not discuss it (shown in figure 1). This group overall is a good representation of artists who are already focused, concerned and informed by a range issues stemming from the planetary crisis.

Figure 1. Describes what percentage of survey respondents discuss the planetary crisis in their art.

Artistic disciplines of respondents 

  • Drawing

  • Painting

  • Drawing, photography, multimedia

  • Drawing/painting

  • Mixed media

  • Video, sculpture, drawing, painting, collage

  • Sculpture

  • Writing/ pottery

  • Multidisciplinary installation

  • Sculpture and installations

The survey shows that the respondents use a range of disciplines in their work, while many artists are multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary – practicing in multiple or with a combination of disciplines. While most art schools traditionally employ a structure of singular disciplinary teaching, it is evident that emerging artists are breaking free from this tradition. Utilising, specialising and combining many different ways to create art. Cross disciplinary experimentation can broadens and an artist practice and ability to express concepts, ideas and motivations

Respondents indicated that they were concerned about a variety of issues derived from the planetary crisis. Showing an understanding than there is a plethora of social and environmental issues that are interconnected and interwoven. Aspects of the planetary crisis are vast and complex, making it vital to analyse and examine every issue with a consideration of how it may connect. The survey showed that respondents were most specifically concerned with waste; which has become a growing focus in Western society as many media platforms and social/political initiatives are now dedicated to curbing our waste habits and production. Fewer respondents displayed an equal concern about climate change and colonisation; interestingly, both issues are specifically influential topics in Australia. Climate change and intense natural disasters – fires and floods – are consistent issues traumatising the country and communities. Also, colonisation is the most influential characteristic imposed upon modern day Australia; with its harsh reality and history becoming a major focus in tertiary education and debates within the media and politics, (shown in figure 2).

Figure 2. Describes what the planetary crisis issues most concern the survey respondents.

Survey respondents indicated that they discuss broad, complex and interrelated issues surrounding the planetary crisis in their art practice. Artists described themes and topics examine in their art; usually describing multiple interconnected topics of diverse social and environmental issues. The range of themes and focal points discussed by the respondents may indicate that artists are deeply concerned with a broad array of issues, collectively showing that many issues are intrinsically linked, diverse and expansive.

"Climate change, water justice, inter species relationships

the link between capitalism/consumerism and the climate crisis, animal extinction, my own guilt about my impact "

"Colonisation, memory, identity"

"Animal rights/ factory farm/ food habit/ daily waste"

"Increased disability and chronic illness due to climate change

I discuss reconnecting to our embodied and interconnected-with-kin nature as a way to alchemise the current paradigm"


"Climate change and it's affects"

"Aiming for art practices that have the least negative impacts on

the earth as an underlying current throughout everything I make. The contrasts between natural fibre or material vs. man made or toxic materials. And working towards a way of thinking that is more informed by Indigenous understandings of being on the land and relating to all life"

"I am looking at the impact of consumerism and fast fashion, exploring both environmental and social consequences"

Themes discussed in respondents art

The role of an artist can be perceived and interpreted in different ways. While it can be a personal experience creating art, it is also perceived to be role of great responsibility. Often a large emphasis is placed on the artist to be deeply political or critical of the world around them. When the respondents were asked if they felt responsible about their role as in artist, 70% felt that they did. In conjunction, 70% of respondents perceived their role as an artist to be political and to also inwardly analyse and their own life. While these answers could be perceived as being conflicting, instead, it demonstrates that artists believe their role is to be inwardly introspective of issues that are political. 60% of respondents also stated that their role was to critique aspects of society; again, illustrating that their own perception and examination of society is important (shown in figure 3 and 4)

Figure 3. Describes what percentage of respondents feel responsibility as an artist; in reference to when discussing social and/or environmental causes.
Figure 4. Describes what respondents think their role as an artist is.

Similarly, the role of art in society and its influence can be perceived differently. Some believe that art shapes society and important social conversations; while others believe that while art analyses society, it often cannot influence it. The survey respondents indicated that 60% believe that art plays an important role in informing society, while 80% of respondents believe that art should comment on social and environmental issues. This portrays the perceived importance for artists to be participating and examining issues that inform society, but also shows that the perceived power of art to inform society is indifferent (shown in figures 5 and 6)

How the planetary crisis informs the repsondents art practice

"I express my environmental crisis anxiety through the use of strong symbolism and other motifs, sometimes with words"

"Loss and materiality"

"Themes and concept"

"I more create with hope, solutions and a bright future"

"It informs my use of material, using natural materials like soy wax and

remelting/reusing them. Collecting waste from my retail job at Lush and turning them into candles etc, also using paper from my job at a shoe store for papier-mâche. Lately I have been purposefully using plastics and acrylics to discuss materials outlasting the human body"

"It is a core theme"

"The materials I choose to use or have conversations with in my art tend to

be rooted in my understanding of place, and therefore my natural and constructed environment plays a huge part in what materials I find interesting to work with. Themes that I address include emotional and mental distress that is amplified by our current social and environmental climate"

"I use discarded material found in the street and textiles that cannot be sold at op shops (rejected, fast fashion etc)"

Survey respondents stated the different ways that the planetary crisis informs their art. The answers are broad, but hold a similar principles. Many artists illustrate that the planetary crisis informs their choice in materials; dictating whether they use recycled, found, or biodegradable materials. Also, many respondents indicated that core themes of their work is influenced by aspects of the planetary crisis; which is often intrinsically linked to materials as well.

The survey is still active and this page/results are subject to change. Keep up to date!


If you would like to take part in the survey 

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