Skye-based project nominated for Turner Prize

The Climavore project based on Skye, created by Cooking Sections, aka Daniel Fernandez Pascual and Alon Schwabe, has been recognised with a nomination for the 2021 Turner Prize.

A project highlighting the climate emergency that has worked in partnership with school pupils and restaurants across Skye has been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious art prizes.

Climavore, which is the brainchild of London-based duo Alon Schwabe and Daniel Fernandez Pascual – together known as Cooking Sections – was chosen by Tate Britain alongside four other distinguished works as part of a five-strong shortlist for the 2021 Turner Prize.

The Turner Prize jury applauded the ingenuity of their long-term project asking how our diet can respond to the climate emergency.

Climavore: On Tidal Zones seeks to transform our diets with ingredients that contribute to cleaning Skye’s waters through their natural growth while educating the next generation of cooks who can embrace these changes.

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Originally commissioned in 2016 by ATLAS Arts, the project began on the intertidal zone at Bayfield in Portree and explores the environmental impact of intensive salmon aquaculture.

Each day at high tide, the installation works as an underwater multi-species oyster table, inhabited by filter feeder bivalves and seaweeds. At low tide, the installation emerges above the sea and functions as a dining table for humans. It is activated by Cooking Sections in collaboration with local chefs, residents, politicians, and researchers.

The oyster table at Bayfield, Portree during low tide.

Through the project, Cooking Sections helped educate Portree High School pupils about the regenerative benefits of bivalves and seaweeds through a series of cooking workshops led by Skye-based chefs and producers.

Pupils have also undertaken apprenticeships with chefs across the island who have incorporated Climavore ingredients into their restaurant menus.

Climavore has since grown in Skye to include new educational collaborations, gathering and recording of personal stories and experiences of coastal living, and more in-depth explorations into alternative, regenerative aquaculture models.

Commenting on their achievement this week, Daniel Fernandez Pascual told the Free Press: “It was a great surprise, first of all, and then we were curious about why they chose us and who the other nominees were.

“The jury recognised that beyond an exhibition space there are many ways of practising today that do not restrict their presence only to museums and art venues, so it was a nice surprise that they were willing to acknowledge that way of working.”

Alon Schwabe said: “It is a public and international platform to bring questions forward about the climate emergency and environmental justice.

“And we are keen to think about how the nomination could be used to support these causes.”

Mr Fernandez Pascual added: “We also want to use this platform of the Turner Prize to think about alternatives to farmed salmon – and how we can invent new models for people to grow and source food.

“Perhaps for certain people, it might give more credibility to the possibility that these things can happen, it is not just a crazy idea that some people have come up with but rather a base from which these things can be explored further.”

Shona Cameron, the Skye-based project manager for Climavore told the Free Press: “It is really amazing for this project to be nominated for the Turner Prize, and we want to say thank you to all the collaborators who have been part of the project since it started.

“In particular Portree High School, and the Home Economics teacher Fiona MacInnes and her students, all the restaurants who have been enthusiastically involved in creating Climavore dishes to put on their menus, and more recently the West Highland College’s construction skills course.”

She added:” It’s an honour to be nominated alongside other collectives who all see the power that art has to affect social change.

“We are excited to still be working on the Climavore project here on Skye, and look forward to sharing our developing programme over the coming years.”

The Turner Prize winner will be announced on 1st December.

Article by Adam Gordon and images by Willie Urquhart.