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Exploring Climate Emotions

Ethics Centre Residency - May 2023

Eco-anxiety, climate distress, solastalgia… a growing lexicon of terms have entered the popular imagination to describe the kinds of grief, worry, and despair that people are feeling in the face of escalating natural disasters, ecological loss, and government inaction on climate change.


This project aimed to catalyse conversations – small and large, private and public – about how climate change is affecting the innermost thoughts and feelings of our communities.  At its core, we are driven by an ethical proposition: how can we live and act in a way that allows people and planet to flourish? How can social, cultural, and psychological forces be of service (and stand witness) to our ecological selves – the interconnected meshwork that constitutes each person and the ecosystems of which they are fundamentally a part? 

During this residency Chloe Watfern and Priya Vaughan held a series of creative workshops with collaborators, including artists, psychologists, researchers and elders, to explore the ethical dilemmas at the heart of climate distress – from the dimensions of personal responsibility to issues of equity and the exacerbation of new and old social injustices.


We talked and engaged in creative making to develop a large-scale floor artwork that which will be exhibited and interacted with by audiences in our upcoming exhibition Care is a Relationship. Drawing on our conversations with collaborators, Watfern and Vaughan are developing a text (manifesto/guide/essay) that helps situate these dialogues within broader traditions of ecopsychology, environmental art, and public mental health interventions.

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