Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered


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This groundbreaking handbook is a resource for artists, community activists and anyone wishing to reach beyond the facts and figures of science and technology to harness their creativity to make change in the world.

Playing for Time explores the pivotal role artists play in re-thinking the future; re-inventing and re-imagining our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty. This timely book identifies collaborative arts practices emerging in response to planetary challenges, reclaiming a traditional role for artists in the community as truth-tellers and agents of change.

Sixty experienced artists and activists give voice to a new narrative – shifting society’s rules and values away from consumerism and commodity towards community and collaboration with imagination, humour, ingenuity, empathy and skill. Inspired by the grass-roots Transition movement, modelling change in communities worldwide, Playing for Time joins the dots between key drivers of change – in energy, finance, climate change, food and community resilience – and ‘recipes for action’ for readers to take and try.

Praise for Playing for Time…

‘This book is full of wings – wings that are ancient practices, that are community, arts, modernity, wings of global learning for local concerns. Lucy Neal’s anthology of possibility offers a salmagundi of thought,knowledge, options and hope. It’s all here. An almanac to dip into and then create – in the kitchen and the window box and the garden, locally, in community, regionally, nationally, globally. The seeds of change are in us. This is a book to help us grow.’ Stella Duffy, author and founder of Fun Palaces

‘It’s so important that the role of artists in making change is being systematically and beautifully addressed. Playing for Time, holds the keys to the possibility of transformative action.’ Bill McKibben, environmentalist and founder of

‘A remarkable book that pulls no punches. It’s most enduring image is the poignant flock of passenger pigeons, drawn in sand on Llangrannog beach in 2014, the 100th anniversary of their extinction. It’s an image that will not leave my mind: a message of loss, but also of hope, from which we must, and can, learn.’ Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair of the Green Alliance

‘“Barren art”, Kandinsky wrote, “is the child of its age”. But prophetic, powerful art is the “mother ofthe future”. A better world will be born of such art, and Lucy Neal’s wonderful cornucopia should beat the elbow of everyone helping in its midwifery.’ Tom Crompton, Common Cause Foundation WWF

Oberon Books, 2014. 480 pages, paperback with colour images throughout, 24 x 18.5 cm

ISBN: 9781783191864

Additional information

Weight 1600.0 kg