Something futuristic is taking shape in the historic grounds of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, in rural Warwickshire.
British artists Alex Hartley and Tom James are creating The Clearing
a vision of the future, on the shores of the gallerys lake, where people can come to learn how to live in the collapsing world thats coming our way.
In the middle of The Clearing, the artists are now building a geodesic dome to house the project.
First built by the utopian communities of 1960s America, these hitech but low-cost structures are simple to build from scrap materials and hand-tools.
The artists are being ably assisted by a team of 20 volunteers from across the country, including architects and park rangers, graphic designers and yurt builders. The finished dome, built from materials gathered from local communities including scaffolding boards, furniture and old doors, will stand in direct contrast to the ex-stately home opposite.
Work is due to be completed by the end of February, ready for the first caretakers to move in when the project opens on the 18th March.
155 people responded to an open call to be caretakers, who will chop wood, feed the chickens, repair the dome, and keep the vision alive. Living totally off-grid, theyll have access to a bed, a stove, a means to cook, an outdoor toilet, and a library of hippy survival guides through the ages. With only 40 spaces available, the first decision of The Clearing will be who gets to come on the ark.
Alex Hartley is a UK based artist whose work explores our understanding of utopian ideologies. His early work focused on the white cube of the gallery space; testing the parameters of art's containers. This has expanded to explore iconic modernist architectural forms, as the work considers buildings as social experiments manifested in both the built and natural environments. He has taken part in solo and group exhibitions in the UK, Europe and the USA, aswell as earning a number of significant awards and commissions including Nowhereisland, one of Artists Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Tom James is a writer, self-publisher and artist. Hes set up imaginary tourist boards; published fanzines about cities; written intros for biennales; and blown up cooling towers. His fanzine project, GO, is part of the permanent collection of the V&A. He is also part of Spacemakers, a utopian regeneration agency that tries to get inside the machinery of regeneration, and use it for good instead of evil.
The dome will also be used to host a series of workshops, to teach people the skills theyll need once the sea levels rise, the fossil fuels run out, and the global economy collapses. From basic skills like building fires and digging toilets, through to making mead, building wind turbines and re-starting democracy, people will learn all they need to survive and thrive in a world afflicted by climate change.
The project aims to help people get outside of everyday society, and experience what a world without central heating, Kim Kardashian and Asda would feel like. Is it a nightmare, or an opportunity to live simpler lives? Well find out as the year goes on.
The Clearing runs from March to December 2017.