Cultural programme participants

More information on the ASSW 2024 Cultural Programme participants: 

  • Ester Almagro (Naia the Narwhal) has over five years of experience in tech, creative businesses, and high interest in art and sustainability. She is a multifunctional Data Solutions Engineer and strategist, and her goal is to use technology and the arts, as well as to build partnerships with people of all backgrounds and skill sets to act as a catalyst for advancement. She co-created in the 2023 Naia the Narwhal creation, an XR project that uses science, technology, and art to raise awareness of climate change.
  • Neil Banas ( Instagram @neilbanas) is an oceanographer, mathematical ecologist, and artist based in Glasgow. His work in both art and science explores natural worlds at the margins of our vision and attention, from microscopic plankton to migration routes that span entire oceans. At University of Strathclyde, in partnership with Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Missing Salmon Alliance, he leads a research group that uses computer modelling to trace climate impacts along marine food chains from plankton to wild salmon, seabirds, and whales. He has worked on case studies in the Atlantic and Pacific Arctic since 2012. At Wasps Studios (the Briggait, Glasgow), he uses a mix of computational methods and traditional origami ( to explore biologicql forms and patterns of flow at the border between realism and science fiction.
  • Ciorstaidh Beaton. Professional harpist, clàrsach player and pianist. Graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
  • Michael Begg is an award-winning composer and sound artist, based in East Lothian, Scotland. He’s an Associate Artist at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, and has held residencies with the European Marine Board, Ocean ARTic Partnership, Mexican Centre for Music and Sound Art, and has delivered commissions from Cryptic Sonica, Scottish National Galleries, the BBC and others. He was recently appointed as the first Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute’ Musician in Residence, and will be stationed aboard HMS Protector in Antarctica during the 23/24 season. Michael received a Connected Innovator Award for developing software to enable the translation of research data into musical sound, creating new forms of music to raise awareness and engagement with issues in climate sustainability.
 He is the founder/MD of Black Glass Ensemble, who featured in a two-day showcase, Black Glass In Pieces, in the Made In Scotland showcase at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe.
  • Originally from Ayrshire, Michelle Campbell (Instagram @artmichellecampbell) is a Glasgow-based artist with a love of nature, colour and all things geometric. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2006 with a BA(Hons) in Fine Art and she currently paints in her studio at The Briggait. 
  • Emily Doolittle ( is a composer, music researcher, and textile artist with an ongoing interest in sounds, textures, and processes of the natural world. She explores these through music compositions, interdisciplinary collaborations with biologists, and academic and non-academic writing. A longtime crocheter, she has recently started to specialize in semi-realistic representations of marine flora and fauna. She brings these to life through collaboration with filmmakers and animators, and through combining these animations with her own sea-related music.
  • Lesley Harrison lives and works on the north-east coast of Scotland, looking out over shipping and migration routes between Northern Europe, Scandinavia and the polar seas. Much of her work grows out of her sense of being at the southern edge of a much colder, older northern world. In her writing she excavates layers of occupation and uneasy settlement in these coastal communities. 'Beyond the Map' (2012) and 'Disappearance' (2020) follow the route of the North Sea whalers from Dundee, her hometown, up to the North Isles and the polar seas beyond. Her 2023 collection, 'Kitchen Music' - "precise and uncompromisingly beautiful writing", "a meticulously crafted Northern Hymnal ... essential reading for anyone keen to understand why poetry remains a unique force for change on this planet" - records and laments the thin aural landscape of the northern coast - weather, dialect, marine traffic, whale song. Follow the link to learn more.
  • Laura Johnson is an artist, teacher, activist and social scientist. She holds an MSc in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh, where she focused on environmental and social justice issues. She also has an MFA in Painting and Drawing, and a Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies. Her interests encompass using the arts to raise the voices of those marginalized by environmental/climate injustices, globalization and inequitable development initiatives. She currently has a painting hanging at the Glasgow Science Centre (funded by NERC) on climate impacts in the Artic. She is passionate about contributing to inclusive youth development through the arts, and is leading workshops at the National Museum of Scotland (funded by the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF) to create a children's climate change quilt, which will be hung at the museum for a year beginning Sept 2024. She currently teaches primary and secondary school, and in the past has taught art full time at the University level. Her art website (which includes her students’ work) is .
  • VFX and XR artist Lisa Milenesio (Naia the Narwhal) is at the forefront of blending art and technology to create immersive experiences. With a background in Computer Animation, she then specialised in real-time graphics and XR, giving her a range of skills necessary to push the boundaries of visual storytelling. Passionate about environmental issues, she teamed up with Pauline Blanchett and Ester Almagro to raise awareness on critical topics such as noise pollution in the Arctic. The creation of Naia, as a social media CG presence, serves as a captivating medium to address the pressing issue of noise pollution in the Arctic. This project embodies the fusion of art and activism, aiming to engage and educate audiences on the delicate balance of the Arctic ecosystem. Instagrm & Tiktok @naiathenarwhal. 
  • Georgia Rose Murray has visited Svalbard several times, specifically to paint in response to the changing light and colours, during each season. Since 2016 she has been invited to stay as a guest of the Czech Polar Station and as a repeat visitor to Ny Alesund. Regular communication with scientists at CPR, NPI, NERC and BAS has supported the work she makes. She works rapidly ‘en plein air’, often in extremely challenging conditions, and translates her holistic Arctic experiences into large-scale oil paintings, in her Scottish studio. The landscapes in this exhibition depict remote areas of Svalbard during all seasons, including glaciers, fjords, and mountains that many ASSW scientists may recognise.
  • Alex South (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; is a musician and researcher with a passion for multispecies musicking: paying attention to the sounds of other animals with the goal of mutual flourishing. Based in Scotland, his recent compositional work is inspired and informed by the voices of cetaceans and his PhD research into the rhythms of humpback whale song. Pieces include ‘CETACEA’ (with Katherine Wren), described by The Wire as “keening lines of whale song; a beautiful study”. Other works by Alex have been performed by Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, Sequoia, and St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, and featured in ‘The Musical Animal’ (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2022). Alex’s music can also be heard on Steve Smart’s poetry films ‘Trawl’ (2020) and ‘Velella velella’ (2022).
  • Katherine Wren (Nordic Viola) is a violist, viola d’amore player and improviser who specialises in contemporary music and its relationship with traditional music. She studied at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music. Katherine is a member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and in September 2016 she formed Nordic Viola, a flexible ensemble specialising in the music and cultures from the North Atlantic region She has visited Greenland on multiple occasions and in 2018 commissioned Greenlandic composer Arnannguaq Gerstrøm to write Ukioq, which features on Nordic Viola’s recent album, Elsewhere, Elsewhen. Additionally, Katherine has worked in collaboration with clarinettist/improvisor Alex South, composer Karen Power and poet Lesley Harrison on projects centred on the Arctic that include recorded and imagined underwater sounds of ice and whales and explore cultural and historical links between Scotland and the Arctic. Visit Katerine's website to learn more.