The world-renowned environmental education UK project is about to take a bow at BhIF

After an impressive run for 14 years in the United Kingdom (UK), Eden Project, the famous environmental education attraction from the UK, is making a foray into Bhutan, landing as Edenlab.

Edenlab, the international creative partner of Eden Project UK – one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations – will stage interactive, immersive artistic events and installations to promote environmental sustainability and wellbeing during the first-ever Bhutan International Festival scheduled in Thimphu from February 14-23 this year.

Edenlab’s creative producer, John Hendicott, describes the arrival of Edenlab in Bhutan as ‘building a relationship and promoting collaboration and cultural exchange’. “It’s not about participating in an event and disappearing after that. It’s about integration and learning from each other. It’s about sharing and collaborating. It’s about cultural exchange and building a legacy together. That’s what music and arts are all about,” he said.

Edenlab, he said, also envisages Bhutan as a perfect place, because of the shared common goals. “We share a lot of the same ideas about our relationship to nature and sustainability, especially when we think about Bhutan being carbon negative and Bhutan’s commitment to maintain 60 percent of its total land area under forest cover. It’s also about art as an expression and reflection of current values, social and environmental. It’s these things we think are important as well,” he added. “From our time here so far, we’ve also met a lot of creative young people, who seemed very keen to collaborate, and we look forward to doing exactly that during Edenlab’s 10-day visit to Bhutan.”

As Edenlab’s main mission is to inspire behavioural change, Mr Hendicott said, “It’s not just about people coming and seeing our events, but it’s about participation, so that they take something away; a new perspective, greater insight or a new way of relating to the natural world. It should inspire them to reflect on issues that will be critical to our futures. Looking after the planet means looking after each other.”

At an earmarked space during the 10-day Bhutan International Festival, Edenlab will hold engaging public events, such as informative art installations, exploring people’s connection with nature.  Edenlab artist, known as Mileece, will wire up a diverse selection of plants from all over Bhutan to measure their electro-conductivity.  Visitors are then invited to interact with the plants by touching or breathing on them, and the interaction sets off a series of sounds and light responses, demonstrating the sentience of plants, and how our connection with the plants stimulates and therefore changes their conductivity.

“It’s basically the investigation of our relationship with plants. Plants are alive the same way as we are,” explains Mr Hendicott

Another engaging programme is the multi-award winning dance room Spectroscopy (dS) – a high-impact and accessible digital installation.  Fusing rigorous methods from computational physics with state-of-the-art computing, dS uses real-time 3d capture to interpret people as fields, whose movement creates ripples and waves in an invisible sea of energy.

“The results are interactive graphics and soundscapes, all arising in direct response to the motion of dancers’ bodies. People can see how they interact with the molecules in the air,” Mr Hendicott said, describing it as a biology lesson brought alive through arts.

Besides participating in the festival, Mr Hendicott said they are also keen to explore other potential areas for long-term relationships in Bhutan.

Popular musicians representing Edenlab, such as Nick Mulvey, Dizraeli, and Bellatrix, are also expected to host live music events and performances during the festival.

Edenlab will also build two large geodesic domes in the Centenary Park in Thimphu to host Mileece and dance-room Spectroscopy.  Both artists will be holding workshops and talks throughout the festival for anyone who is interested in participating.  The Founder of Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit, is also scheduled to deliver a talk at the TEDx Thimphu during the festival.


Contributed by

Namkhai Norbu

Former editor of Bhutan Times