Five things you need to know about artist activist duo Ackroyd & Harvey

Five things you need to know about artist activist duo Ackroyd & Harvey

27 May 2019 - 13:07 BY The Arts Society

Our summer issue cover stars have kept ecology at their core, through innovative forms of art. Here are five need-to-know facts about Ackroyd & Harvey

The Arts Society Magazine summer cover


The artists developed a process of manipulating chlorophyll, which allows them to imprint complex photographs onto living grass. The subsequent portraits and landscapes have become some of their best-known works.

Ash to Ash 2018 (artists portrait) © Ackroyd & Harvey. Photo by Manue VasonAsh to Ash 2018 (artists portrait) © Ackroyd & Harvey. Photo by Manue Vason

They are climate change activists

The artist duo has always had ecological concerns at the centre of their practice, with most recent protest actions including dressing demonstrators in living grass coats as part of Extinction Rebellion, an organisation that has staged happenings at London Fashion Week, Tate Modern and beyond to raise awareness about climate change. 


In a process that is not for the squeamish, the artists stripped a whale carcass back to its bone structure after discovering it washed up on a Skegness beach. They subsequently crystallised the form to raise awareness of the dangerous rise of C02 levels in the ocean, while also referencing the huge number of bones that litter the High Arctic as a result of the historic whaling industry.

Culture Declares Emergency | Launch Procession | Tate Modern | Photo © Jamie LoweCulture Declares Emergency | Launch Procession | Tate Modern | Photo © Jamie Lowe

They are campaigning to save Ash trees

As part of The Ash Project, Ackroyd & Harvey have created a major new public artwork in White Horse Wood Country Park, in the Kent Downs. The two enormous monoliths reference the aggressive dieback disease that is expected to obliterate 90-98% of the species within a decade and have huge consequences for the ecosystems it supports. 

Cunningham 2013 © Ackroyd & Harvey Year of Culture Derry

They are continuing Joseph Beuys’ legacy

A decade ago, Ackroyd & Harvey began fulfilling conceptual artist Joseph Beuys’ theory that ‘every environment should be forest-like’ by germinating acorns taken from the 7,000 trees he planted in Kassel, Germany. They have since planted the saplings in locations across the globe. 



Ash to Ash at White Horse Wood Country Park, Detling Hill, Kent 

Until September 2020


In our magazine we speak to Ackroyd & Harvey about their art and activism. To get our magazine, why not join us at The Arts Society? Members receive a copy delivered straight to their home four times a year and receive lots of other benefits. Find out more at


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