Remembering Lost Species: 30 November 2015

Remembrance Day for Lost Species is driven by a growing coalition of artists, educators, celebrants and writers.

Some see humans as hardwired for biophilia: a love of living things coded into our DNA by thousands of years of co-evolution with plants, predators and prey. But what happens to biophilia in an age of mass extinction and rapid ecological change, when feeling love must sometimes mean feeling grief?

As climate change and habitat loss lead us into the Sixth Mass Extinction, now is the time to create new rituals for remembering and mourning what we have lost, and for celebrating and making commitments to what remains.

Since 2011, groups in the UK and internationally have met on the last day of November to hold memorials for extinct species. There have been several ceremonies for the Great Auk (d.1852), including a burial at sea and funeral pyres in coastal Wales and Scotland. In Belgium, families lit candles for disappeared indigenous butterflies. In Brighton, paper flags inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead were waved in a procession for the Caribbean Monk Seal (d.1952). Last year there were a number of centenary memorials to the Passenger Pigeon (d.1914).

This year, ONCA in Brighton will mark Remembrance Day for Lost Species with the casting of a bell to be made at the ONCA Gallery by Bristol-based mobile foundry and performance collective Ore and Ingot. This echoes and builds on a call by the MEMO Project for people everywhere to ring bells in memory of lost species at the same time.

[Source: edited from ONCA press release]

[Photographs by Robin Taylor from the ritual held for the Passenger Pigeon at the Life Cairn above Lewes on 30 November 2014]

Details of event on Sunday 29 November at ONCA and competition for schools

(closing date for competition for schools is Friday 13 November)

How to become involved

  • Find a bell and ring it on Monday 30 November
  • Organise any kind of gathering, and post your plans on the Facebook remembrance page
  • Follow @LostSpeciesDay on Twitter and use the hashtag: #LostSpecies

Facebook events that you can join in from anywhere

Help in making an Extinction Symbol

Further information to explore

The Life Cairn Project: An international group that builds stone cairns as a focus for memorials to extinct species, established in UK by Andreas Kornevall and the Rev. Peter Owen-Jones with support of Vanessa Vine. Anyone is welcome to make a Life Cairn.

Feral Theatre: A theatre company that explores loss, death and memory through performance often in outdoor spaces.

The MEMO Project is an iconic architectural project on the cliffs of the Isle of Portland, to build a permanent memorial to extinct species overlooking the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

The Frameworks of Absence by artist, biologist, and environmental activist Brandon Ballengée

Flow UK is a cultural learning consultancy based in London, led by Bridget McKenzie and Susanne Buck.

The wonderful Dark Mountain project

Joel Greenberg is author of "A Feathered River Across the Sky", one of the leaders of Project Passenger Pigeon and co-producer of “From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeons Flight to Extinction”.

Megan Hollingsworth is a US-based poet and founder of Extinction Witness