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January 25, 2024

Climate strikes a chord at Botanic Garden performance

A live performance and ongoing exhibition confront how it feels to live in an age of climate change.

  • Words: Kimberly Murray
  • Pictures: Supplied

Violinist Anna McMichael and percussionist Louise Devenish will fill the Botanic Gardens with music to encourage audiences to engage with climate conversations on January 31.


Climate Notes live performance and exhibition
Goodman Building Lecture Theatre, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Adelaide 5000

6pm, Wednesday, January 31
Exhibition opening hours:
10am ’til 4pm ’til Thursday 7 February 2024


Their Climate Notes Performance is not your average show. It’s an immersive experience that combines instruments and multimedia visuals to invoke deep thought about climate change set against the backdrop of the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

“I want to use music to contribute to the conversations about how we can manage climate change,” Louise says.

The environmental ethos is threaded through every part of her performance, down to the material her instruments are made from; recycled household objects and even garden waste.

“We have unique hybrid instruments that combine elements of both string and percussion instruments,” Louise says.

“One instrument made using piano wire and discarded saws was crafted by composer Bree Van Reyk, it’s called the Replica Tree.”

The Replica Tree in action

Louise and Bree play the Replica Tree in the finale of the performance – a sense of urgency for climate intervention building with their crescendo.

Through the power of music and the multimedia visuals projected behind the live performers, Climate Notes tells a compelling story about the profound impact of climate change on our planet.

The live performance opens the Climate Notes exhibition on display at the garden’s Goodman Building. Climate Notes is a multimedia exhibition of works that responds to Is This How You Feel? A collection of handwritten letters by climate scientists describing how they feel about climate change compiled by Joe Duggan, a science communicator based in Canberra.

Is this how you feel was done between 2014-2015 and presented insights into the thoughts and emotions of climate scientists regarding the pressing issue of climate change. The performance and exhibition are a chance to reflect on the themes brought up in the scientist’s letters and consider what it means to live in a time when climate change is affecting our lives.

Percussionist Louise Devenish. This picture: Olivia Davies

Louise aims to use music as a means for audiences to find solace in knowing they are not alone in their climate anxiety, fostering a sense of connection and alleviation through shared experiences.

“It is difficult for a lot of us to understand or grasp the enormity of it and to relate the climate crisis to our personal experience,” Louise says.

“The Climate Notes project adds a musical voice to the question of, how does climate change make you feel?”

The audience is invited to participate by writing their own note about their feelings regarding climate change and reading the responses of others.

The emotionally charged music for the event is composed by Australian composers Damien Barbeler, Kate Moore, Bree van Reyk, Cathy Milliken, Dylan Crismani and Daniel Blinkhorn.

Tickets for the live performance on Wednesday, January 31 are $20 plus a booking fee, while the exhibition is free to view at the Goodman Building from 10am to 4pm on weekdays until February 7.

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