David Pritchard

Research Interests

I am one of the ILWS Adjuncts based in the UK. I work as an independent consultant across the fields of environment, culture, heritage and the arts, with bodies ranging from the UN Environment Programme and the Council of Europe to local arts organisations.  I have a special interest in the intersections and synergies between these different disciplines; and for example in the UK I chair the Arts & Environment Network, and at global level I chair the Culture Network of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

I began my career as a nature conservation ecologist, but now operate mainly in the realm of policy and governance, and on a voluntary basis I have served on a range of advisory committees and Boards for the likes of UNESCO, the UK Government, a National Park Authority and several arts organisations.

I regard myself as a champion of better articulation and integration of cultural understandings in other fields (such as environmental management), where the nature of societal choices, value judgements, linguistic conditionings and aesthetic influences (for example) is not as visible or as well understood as it should be.  This is ever more acute as climate and ecological crises, displaced populations, globalised economies, instant communications, a resurgence of nationalism, widening inequalities and democratic deficits etc are all producing novel risk scenarios, altering the political geography and challenging people’s ability to imagine capable, resilient futures.

I am a firm believer in the arts being part of the key to this; not just in simplistic terms of what “creativity” offers us, but in a deeper sense of the more “artful” approaches that we need as a society - for community-making, place-making, meaning-making, and facing the myriad challenges of the 21st Century across all of our traditional geopolitical and disciplinary “borders”.

These interests also inform a suite of research involvements with various universities, along with some lecturing and writing.

The nearest I get to a personal arts practice is just an occasional exploratory project (mixed visual arts and text-based elements), some creative writing, and an enduring strand of semi-abstract photography that works with contrasted material textures, natural geometries, shadows, reflections, evidence of timescales and other “indexical traces” that often allow a more profound approach to a subject than direct literal representation would do.  Otherwise I enjoy collaborating with other artists on socially/ecologically engaged arts-led research, project development, documentation and evaluation, and I have published over 30 reviews of visual arts projects and exhibitions.

David Pritchard