Re-storying marine conservation: Integrating art and science to explore and articulate ideas, visions and expressions of marine space
Art-science collaborations are proliferating as the benefits of bringing artists and scientists together are increasingly recognised and supported. This paper documents an example of an artist and scientist with overlapping (as opposed to the more usual mutually exclusive) practices, in terms of artistic and scientific approaches to the research material. It illustrates how a collaboration between a marine social scientist (the author) and a visual artist within a specific art-science methodological framework helped to inspire a different approach to a marine protected area dispute between the Scottish Government and the small Scottish island community of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The art-science collaboration resulted in Sea Stories, an interactive, online, cultural map of the sea around the island of Barra. The participatory mapping process to create the Sea Stories map involved visions and expressions of marine space being constructed through constant interaction between the research team and research participants. It revealed different ways of knowing the marine environment, hitherto not visible or acknowledged within the marine policy environment where the protection of biological diversity was the focus. The acknowledgement of a rich and diverse cultural heritage bound up with the marine biological diversity opened up possibilities for the design of a community-led and government-supported co-management process that recognises the social relations which form part of the island’s social-ecological system.