Motanafas: a space to connect

Motanafas: a space to connect

Essex Cultural Diversity Project is proud to be supporting Motanafas by Lora Aziz, a project as part of a British Council COP27 Creative Commission bringing together art, science and digital technology and offers innovative, interdisciplinary and inclusive responses to climate change.

Motanafas in Arabic means a space to breathe, a space of respite, a space to connect.

Finding ways to connect to the natural environment is a fundamental part of the necessary active movement in re-connection, re-capturing and re-narrating the stories we need to form for the future generations of the planet.

Motanafas is creatively directed by artist, author and wildcrafter Lora Aziz, co-founder of Wyrd Flora which builds ways of connecting, thinking and learning that promote, develop and protect traditional plant knowledge and environmental equality in creative ways. Herbal art, explorative foraging, food sovereignty and plant medicine are ways in which Wyrd Flora works to re-kindle a sense of wonder for this beautiful planet we call home.

Photo of Lora Aziz

Through the art of visual storytelling and citizen science Motanafas compiles a young contemporary experience with the natural world, explored through a series of guided research, nature walks, artist + ecologist led workshops for gathering plant images, samples and stories to form part of an interactive comparative digital ethnobotanical collection of similar plant species found in the Al’tarfa, St Catherine, and Colchester,

The digital collection and archive is a space that encourages conversations about environmental and cultural exploration, protection and resilience, as well as the cultural diversity that accompanies the ecosystems to which they/we belong. The project empowers young people to connect with Nature, in experiential and creative ways, allowing new relationships to form through documentation & observation, as well as opening new pathways for problem solving working by the philosophy of biomimicry, ethnobotany and citizen science.

Motanafas is partnered with Dayma an Eco-Education company based in Egypt that provides alternative educational immersive programs to learners of all ages with the objective of reconnecting with self, nature and community and working alongside award-winning documentary photographer, visual storyteller Rehab Eldilal, co-creator of the Sinai Flora Field Guide. In the UK the project is partnered with Firstsite, UK Museum of the year, working with Young Arts Kommunity a young-people peer-led group which meets weekly to organise events and activities within the gallery and the wider community.

This project is one of The Creative Commissions, a collaboration between the UK and Egypt, taking place in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) and supported in-kind by Essex Cultural Diversity Project.