ELYSIUM EPIC is a call to protect the species, ecosystems and habitat that need our help so desperately; A CALL TO MAKE DECISIONS AND VOTE FOR LEGISLATION THAT BENEFITS THE COLLECTIVE GOOD OF ALL EARTH’S INHABITANTS.
“Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely DEPEND ON WHAT WE DO NOW.” — Sylvia Earle
We are proud to report that the China premiere of our Elysium Epic Trilogy in April, 2019 was an incredible success. A decade in the making, this is the product of three ambitious expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Coral Triangle. The epic event was showcased in three of China’s biggest cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. Each city premiere included an art exhibition featuring the finest images selected from the three Elysium expeditions, a series of presentations collectively called ‘Ocean Talks’ keynoted by Dr Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, and a live violin performance by Alex Rose of Eric Bettens’ original composition “Arctic Symphony”. To help draw a bigger audience in to the premiere, some of China’s movie and music celebrities were invited guests at the official openings.
ELYSIUM IS A COALITION OF CONSERVATION, ART AND SCIENCE. David Doubilet
Throughout the launch, the team were interviewed by numerous local media sources and also held meetings with Chinese NGOs to strategize for future collaborations. This was all followed by a gala dinner. The organisation by Ocean Geographic partners in China, Centent and Better Blue, a division of the China Next Foundation, enabled us to accomplish so much at all these incredible events. The premieres were largely publicised by China’s biggest social media platforms WeChat and Baidu and supported by Parkview Green, L+Mall and Rolex HK.
ELYSIUM IS ABOUT A TEAM OF PEOPLE WHO LOVE OUR OCEANS COMING TOGETHER TO DO EXTRAORDINARY THINGS. Michael AW
As many great endeavours do, Elysium began with a dream. It was a dream to mobilise the masters to gather in one place, to share their artistic and scientific interpretations of the natural world in ways that could connect with the hearts and minds of anyone and everyone, inspiring understanding of and protection for our blue planet. And so was born the idea of an epic, a project destined to be a legacy: Elysium Epic.
What began with planning an expedition to Antarctica soon blossomed into the blueprint for a trilogy of journeys to explore some of Earth’s most unique and important marine regions. The first trek ventured to Antarctica in 2010, the second to the Arctic in 2015, and the third to the Coral Triangle in 2018. The unifying mission statement of Elysium is to utilise the perspectives and specialties of a diverse group of global citizens to inspire a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, nature, while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change. This has been achieved through an ever-expanding series of books, presentations and exhibitions, all of which have served as the building blocks for the current Elysium Epic Trilogy (EET) experience.
ELYSIUM was born the idea of an epic, a PROJECT DESTINED TO BE A LEGACY
The EET world premiere began in Beijing on 22 April 2019. On arrival, we were greeted by friendly faces and whisked off in electric cars to Hotel E’clat, a fabulous, five-star boutique hotel containing more art than a gallery, that would be hosting us during our stay in city number one. It is part of Parkview Green, the location of our first Elysium event. After a couple of days and a sleepless night of preparations, the exhibition was finally complete and the ballroom was transformed into a marine fantasy world, cleverly constructed from metal mesh and paper patterns. Public, press and NGO representatives filled the room, patiently waiting for the ‘Ocean Talks’ to begin.
The unifying mission statement of Elysium is to utilise the perspectives and specialties of a diverse group of global citizens TO INSPIRE A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF, AND APPRECIATION FOR, NATURE, while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change.
The event launched with a virtual duet between Alex Rose live on violin and Eric Bettens on his digitally recorded electric clarinet performing the “Arctic Symphony”, a piece that Eric specially composed for the 2015 Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition. There followed compelling keynote presentations from Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, each followed by a ‘Blue Tips Pledge’ session led by Richard Meng and Alex Rose. The afternoon brought the opening of the EET art exhibition at Parkview Green including a curated walkthrough for media and press. Many interviews with magazines and news outlets followed over the course of that evening and the following day, culminating in a beautiful gala dinner celebrating our oceans and the people and organisations who work to protect them.
Before departing Beijing, we explored future collaborations with senior representatives from leading marine NGOs at Beijing’s SOHO. Our journey to our next venue, China’s second biggest city, Shanghai, was on, a bullet train which seemingly fly at 396km/h. The venue for the Elysium exhibition was set up in the L+Mall and though designed differently from Beijing, it was amazingly stunning. We maintained a similar scheduling format for the second premiere, but this time the presentations were delivered in a cineplex movie theatre. We all felt such a strong sense of accomplishment, seeing many years of collaborative work on a huge screen being shared with the public of Shanghai.
After a full day of talks, questions, interviews and working meals, in the evening we were transported back to Shanghai’s yesteryear – to the House of Roosevelt, a neo-classical building originally erected in 1920. This historic building is strategically located on the Shanghai Bund and was restored by the Roosevelt family to preserve the history and re-present the past glory of the architecture. The current chair is Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of the 26th President of the United States. Here we were treated to an unforgettable view of Shanghai’s jaw-dropping skyline.
Chengdu, was the last stop on our China premiere of EET, and the gateway city to West China provided quite an epic finale. We had a hunch it was going to be on the fancy side when the first three cars we saw parked in front of our hotel were a Ferrari, a Bentley and an Aston Martin. The high-end Niccolo Mall hosting this Elysium art exhibition was a mere five minutes’ walk from our hotel; that is if you could traverse the field of exotic cars without stopping to drool. The exhibition was, once again, curated beautifully, and this time our presentations were not just in a movie theatre, but in an IMAX movie theatre. This final series of ‘Ocean Talks’ coincided with the opening weekend of Avengers: Endgame, so to say our venue was busy would be a major understatement. We also encountered a slight scheduling conflict as we had to wait until 2:30 a.m., after the final IMAX showing of the Avengers movie, before we were permitted to conduct sound checks and rehearsals for the morning presentations. Despite this, the day was a huge success, and included the ‘Ocean Talks’, opening session, book signing sessions and media interviews. The finale of this truly epic day sent us far back in history. A 1,000-year-old remnant of China’s ancient past, Kuanzhai Alley (宽窄巷子) in downtown Chengdu, is a relic of an ancient city from the chaos of war during the Qing dynasty. Here, we witnessed the juxtaposition of traditional Chinese food and arts culture mingling with a modern lifestyle of art, lights and electronic devices.
Chendu is also panda country and a few of us remained for an additional day to visit the Chengdu Panda Base, a global hub for panda research, conservation and breeding. Giant pandas, once teetering on the brink of extinction, are a conservation icon and a classic success story. They represent what humans are capable of achieving when we work together towards a common, sustainable goal. Much like the narrative of the giant panda, we hope that the Elysium Epic Trilogy inspired in the people of China similar calls to action. A call to protect the species, ecosystems and habitat that need our help so desperately; a call to make decisions and vote for legislation that benefits the collective good of all Earth’s inhabitants.
It is our GREATEST HOPE that our ELYSIUM EPIC TRILOGY experiences will succeed in reconnecting people with the natural world in ways which IGNITE THEIR HEARTS AND INSPIRE THEM TO MAKE CHOICES THAT CONSERVE OUR ENVIRONMENT FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
Elysium uses the combined powers of art and science to influence the way people think and feel about our natural places. As Jacques Cousteau so aptly reminded us: “People protect what they love.” If we do not love nature, we will not protect it. It is our greatest hope that our Elysium Epic Trilogy experiences will succeed in reconnecting people with the natural world in ways which ignite their hearts and inspire them to make choices that conserve our environment for generations to come. As the Elysium Epic is well on its journey around the world, with our mission of using arts and science to educate, and mitigate against, climate change, the final few hours in Chengdu were spent in the bar with David Doubilet, Sylvia Earle, Jennifer Hayes, Alex Rose and Michael AW conducting a brain-storming session for the next epic of deep-sea adventures: the DEEP HOPE epic. (DeepHope.org)
We extend our special thanks to our partners in China and Ocean Geographic associates: Jane Yan, Chan Gong, Miao Wang, Richard Meng, Emily Chan, Cassandra Chia, Becky Yan and Nick Cheng for the many essential roles they performed in the development and execution of the EET premiere in China. All of you helped make our dream become reality.