Meetings Archive

Nature Writing conversation
Bearing Witness

Thursday 13 June 2024, 19:00
Nature Writing conversation

Event completed


CHF 10.-
Free for under 25s
Upon reservation


In English translated into French

As ecological disasters occur around the world, writers often serve as sources of rich information concerning not only these cataclysmic events, but the human activities and decisions that have led to them. In a conversation between two writers currently enmeshed in projects investigating two different disasters, we explore the motivations, needs, and processes of this sort of writing, as well as its potential impact. In discussing the grave freshwater crisis in Central Asia alongside the devastating erosion of the East Yorkshire coast, Cédric Gras and Alison Armstrong, both residents at the Jan Michalski Foundation in 2024, will examine their roles as writers and documentarians, but also as members of society acting as material witnesses to ecological disasters.

In addition to the conversation, there will be screenings of two short documentary films related to the two authors’ work: Beyond the Glacier, directed by David Rodríguez Muñiz, confronts the crisis in Central Asia, while East Yorkshire Coastline, from Lawrence Cwerner, offers stunning visual images of the erosion on England’s eastern coastline.


Alison Armstrong is an English writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, Fossils (Saraband, 2022), came out in 2022, while her first play, Lost Voices of Morecambe Winter Gardens, was performed in 2021, supported by Arts Council England and Royal Society of Literature. She has won and been shortlisted for several awards. She is currently working on a landscape memoir on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

Cédric Gras is a French writer and reporter. He was active on several fronts, simultaneously it seemed, with long-distance travels, a passion for mountaineering, and university studies in geography, before embracing the expat life in Eurasia, where he headed several Alliances françaises. These restless eventful years provided material for a long series of texts, novels, short stories and historical studies. The French publisher Stock has brought out L’hiver aux trousses (2015), Anthracite (2016), Saisons du voyage (2018), and the diptych Alpinistes de Staline (2020, the Prix Albert Londres) and Alpinistes de Mao (2023).