What can we learn from ants? Find answers online via Scarborough Museums Trust

Artist Feral Practice researching in the field. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

QUESTION of the day: What can we learn from ants?

Artists and naturalists will come together on Zoom on January 19 from 7pm to 9pm to  address this fascinating question in Ask The Ants.

In an event organised by Scarborough Museums Trust, designed to complement Scarborough Art Gallery’s ongoing exhibition, The Ant-ic Museum, artists Feral Practice and Marcus Coates will discuss what ants can teach us about our anthropological world in the company of ant ecologies specialist Dr Elva Robinson and natural world author Charlotte Sleigh.

Subverting a Gardeners’ Question Time format, the panel will draw on their specialist knowledge of ants to answer questions from the audience about human society. “Seeing our entrenched issues or thorny problems through the unusual position of the ant world opens up unexpected pathways of creative thinking for everyday life,” says the Scarborough Museums Trust literature.

Online attendees can submit questions in advance via https://bit.ly/AskTheAnts or ask it on the day. Questions can vary from the political and societal to the deeply personal. They should not be questions about ants, however!

An exhibit at The Ant-ic Museum exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

The January 19 event is part of Ask The Wild, a collaborative project by Feral Practice and Marcus Coates that offers fresh perspectives on personal, social and political issues in human society by bringing expert knowledge of natural history disciplines to bear on everyday human problems and dilemmas. Previous events include Ask The Sea at Tate St Ives, Cornwall, and Ask The Birds at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Feral Practice’s Fiona MacDonald is an artist, curator and writer who specialises in human-nonhuman relationships, creating art projects that “develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries”.

Performance artist, writer and filmmaker Marcus Coates seeks to draw parallel in his work through “examining how we perceive ‘human-ness’ in imagined non-human realities”.

Elva Robinson, senior lecturer in Ecology at the University of York, conducts research on the wood ants of the North York Moors. Her book Wood Ant Ecology And Conservation was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Charlotte Sleigh is a researcher, writer and practitioner whose work is spread across the science humanities. Her research interests began in the history of biology and now have an emphasis on animals, and she is the author of Ant (Reaktion, 2003) and Six Legs Better: A Cultural History Of Myrmecology (Johns Hopkins, 2007).  

Tickets for Ask The Ants are free and can be booked via Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ask-the-ants-tickets-207822040317

Work from The Ant-ic Museum exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew