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 gallery’s lake, where people can come to learn how to live in the collapsing world that’s 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 hi-tech 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, they’ll 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.
The dome will also be used to host a series of workshops, to teach people the skills they’ll 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? We’ll find out as the year goes on.