In the Georgian and Victorian eras, science was called Natural Philosophy. 18th and 19th-century naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt – the first to identify human-induced climate change – sought to understand people’s place in the world while questioning the use of the term ‘nature’ to justify social structures and political standpoints. Today, alternative debates around nature are reshaping how we think about our relationships with the environment. Recent studies show that two thirds of UK adults feel they have ‘lost touch with nature’ and our vocabulary to describe it is diminishing. How might new ideas around nature affect our priorities, and can reconnecting with the living world help us find solutions to current environmental emergencies?
Second Nature at The Portico Library brings together literature, artefacts, research and new works by contemporary artists and young people to ask what we mean by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ today and how these terms have been used throughout the modern age.