Changing people’s perceptions of the human:animal relationship
The Cardiff Osteological Research Group (CORG) have researched many dimensions of animals and their relationships with people, across Britain, Europe and beyond. CORG have taken their research as the basis for presentations to and engagements with a broad public, through lectures and events. These seek to challenge modern attitudes to animals, and to provoke reflection on the present relevance and future development of animals and their economic, social, ritual and symbolic roles. This has enriched, informed and changed the perspectives of many individuals. A related strand has impacted the perspectives of a number of artists and practitioners in creative industries.
Provoking reflections on past, present and future relationships with animals
Since 2007 CORG research has underpinned a series of events deliberately designed to attract audiences traditionally unaware of the type of research under scrutiny.
Guerilla Archaeology, Glastonbury 2013. The keeper of the Stone Circle Fire models the Star Carr, Mesolithic 'Head dress' reproduced by Ian Dennis.
One pathway, Guerilla Archaeology (GA), works with creative arts organisations to deliver interdisciplinary workshops at music and arts festivals (please visit our Flickr site). GA provokes public response by enabling individuals to co-create a past rooted in CORG’s research. Provocative topics and performances (Shamans vs Goddesses, Animal Symbolism and Sacrifice, Farmers vs Hunters, Animals and Artefacts) that relate to CORG research are used to interact with 15–35 year-olds (the public most alienated from science, Public Attitudes to Science, 2011, RCUK) e.g. Shamanic Street Preachers. The reach of GA is documented by visitor counts, outputs and images.
Another pathway, Future Animals (started 2009, partnered with National Museum Wales/Amgueddfa Cymru), led to a series of intensive workshops and exhibitions exploring human:animal relations via the medium of art targeted at 14–16-year-olds. Working with an artist, thirty participants in three workshops were challenged to design the pets and farm animals of the future, in response to our research on past animals. Survey and filmed interviews revealed an increased awareness of historical, biological, cultural and ethical aspects of domestication. Discussion has also been generated by a live-streamed TEDx 2012 and the resources created have led to participatory workshops at scouts/guides events, and in schools, museums and universities.
Stimulating artistic responses
The Spirit is a Bone 2013 - an image by Paul Evans building on his Leverhulme residency, and used in a creative intervention within the Derby Museums 'Visual Poetry of 1001 Objects' gallery.
Alongside working with museum and festival curators, we have interacted with visual artists (e.g. Paul Evans) and re-enactors. We also work with musicians (Dylan Adams) and shamanic ethnographers /practitioners (e.g. Dr Henry Droselda), and the latter have expanded their artistic practices to incorporate our research themes within their work. Our interest in animals as artefacts (see the work of Ian Dennis) and materials has also inspired creativity in re-enactors, costumiers and crafts people.
The research undertaken by CORG was carried out between 2002 and 2012 by