Tag Archive | Participatory Art

The ‘awesome’ and other environmental art clusters with potential to inspire the climate movement – Laura Kim Sommer


A global festival of cultural activity on climate change, called ArtCOP21, took place parallel to the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris. It included 163 artistic events and the idea was that art and creativity inspire change and involve the public into a global climate movement.

The goal of this study was to investigate what kind of psychological effects the artworks had on their spectators, and in case they had one, which characteristics of the artworks were responsible for it. In order to answer these questions a survey was conducted.

874 random spectators of 37 artworks responded to a questionnaire on their perception of one of the artworks. Cluster analysis of the artworks assigns them to five clusters. The clusters were named after the emotional profile they elicited (“the awesome”, “the surprising”, “the positive”, “the negative” and “the neutral”).

The results furthermore showed that the perceived importance of having climate change on the political agenda was influenced by whether the spectators rated the artwork to be relevant for them personally, whether the artist was perceived similar to them and if participants perceived themselves as global citizen.

The effect of a number of psychological variables like environmental attitude and intention to act were analyzed, however those variables were not significantly influenced by the artworks.

Finally, we suggest for climate change communication via art and to overcome climate change denial that environmental art should aim to elicit a sense of awe, surprise its audience, be participatory and relevant for daily life.



Laura K. Sommer

Psykologisk institutt


You can find out more about this research at the Feeding the Insatiable summit later this year



Drawing Energy – Book

Drawing Energy describes a drawing-based research project undertaken by the Royal College of Art as part of SusLabNWE (2012-15). The project explored people’s perceptions of energy, by asking them to write, draw or illustrate their thoughts and reactions to the question ‘What does energy look like?’ Over 180 members of the public took part in the process. This site accompanies the book, published in July 2015.

The larger SuslabNWE study saw 11 partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK come together to understand and investigate energy use in the home. At the Royal College of Art in the UK, we looked at bringing together two ideals and practices around inclusive design and sustainability. Both often have different starting points and deal with different scales. Inclusive design usually focuses on people’s needs and capabilities at the domestic scale, while sustainability embraces complexity and systems thinking, addressing systemic change.

Drawing Energy negotiates a space between the two, bringing together people’s aspirations and perspectives with the context of socio-political mandates and changing infrastructure or technologies. The study also moves beyond the idea of purely functional research (such as numerically measuring energy use) to depict the less tangible area of how people relate to energy in a visual, literal or metaphorical way – it takes us from data ‘performance’ through to human ‘perception’. The work represented in this collection builds on a history of using drawing as a tool for research and as a way to enable people to express their ideas and imagination fully.

We hope you appreciate this publication, whether you see it as a strategy within design research, or simply enjoy it for the rich and varied artwork that represent the public’s views of energy.


Keep it Clean -Interactive art installation showed support for clean energy in Manchester

Green Alliance is an influential environmental think tank working to ensure UK political leaders deliver ambitious solutions to global environmental issues.

“On Wednesday 9 March, we lit up Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester with our interactive art installation to show support for renewable energy in the North. One metre high letters spelling out ‘keep it clean’ came to life


There’s been a lot of talk about the Northern Powerhouse, and what it really means for the North still isn’t clear. New industry, new transport links, new jobs…

But one big question is “what will power this powerhouse?”

Renewables are the most popular energy source in the UK. According to government statistics, 78 per cent of the public support them, with only four per cent against.

In November, countries across the world committed to take action on climate change, and to do that they must go low carbon.

The North of England led the Industrial Revolution, and it should be at the forefront of this new, global, cleantech transformation.

To spread that message, Green Alliance teamed up with 10:10 and commissioned an interactive art installation in Piccadilly Gardens for an evening. It spelt out ‘Keep it clean’ in one-metre-high letters, which light up when people hold hands to connect the electric current. When more people hold hands, the lights change colour. They invited passers-by to interact with the sculpture by holding hands and making the bulbs light up, and they had leaflets to explain what it’s all about – i.e. making sure that whatever comes of the Northern Powerhouse idea, it has clean energy and the wishes of northern people at its heart.

The installation created a fantastic visual, and lots of people interacted with it to show support for the message and make it light up nice and bright.

The North tells Osborne: clean energy must power the Powerhouse

Friday 11 March 2016

Amy Mount
Amy Mount Senior policy adviser amount@green-alliance.org.uk

More than 80 organisations from across northern England have called on the Chancellor ahead of the Budget to ‘Keep it Clean’ and back renewable energy for their region.The North of England led the Industrial Revolution, and they say it should be at the forefront of this new, global, clean energy transformation.The signatories include the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, communities investing in their own small-scale renewable projects, business groups, faith groups, and nature conservation organisations. In a declaration sent to the Chancellor, George Osborne, they say:

“The future we want is one with clean air, healthy people and resilient communities … To make this vision real, the 2016 Budget must enable us to develop and grow renewables for our region into the 2020s. The UK government should be celebrating clean energy as core to its economic plan. To cherish what we love about our region and reassert our place in the forefront of the world’s economy, we ask the Chancellor to back clean energy for the North.”

The declaration also reflects concern over the extreme wet weather that badly affected parts of the North this winter linking this with the need to shift to renewable energy to reduce the risk of extreme weather from climate change. In December, countries across the world committed to take action on climate change, signing the historic Paris Agreement. Yet in the UK, this is a very uncertain time for renewable energy, with an influential committee of MPs warning last week that the government needs to restore investor confidence in the sector.

So far negotiations about the Northern Powerhouse have ignored the need for new energy infrastructure.  The groups backing the declaration are clear that this should be clean, renewable energy combined with the benefits of smart energy technologies and reducing energy waste.  The call follows a recent report from industry body Energy UK calling for a ‘smart energy future’ and stating that the UK’s energy sector is ready to deliver affordable, reliable and clean energy.

Renewables are the most popular energy source in the UK. According to government statistics, 78 per cent of the public support them, with only four per cent against. Already, the North of England has enough solar PV to power half a million homes, enough onshore wind capacity to power one million homes, and enough offshore wind capacity to power 1.5 million homes.

Councillor Kate Chappell, Executive Member for the Environment at Manchester City Council, said:“Manchester is proud to sign the Clean Energy Declaration. As a city which was integral to the Industrial Revolution, we now see ourselves as being ideally placed to help lead the Clean Energy Revolution we need to see in the 21st century. Along with other great Northern cities, we have signed a pledge to move towards being exclusively powered by clean energy by 2050. And we will continue to develop the emerging Manchester Strategy, which explains our commitment to reducing the city’s carbon footprint, including through the use of clean energy. We’re also working with other Greater Manchester authorities and partners to improve our collective understanding of low carbon energy, as we seek to discover innovative, locally generated renewable energy sources for the city.”

Jeremy Garside, chief executive of Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, said: “As an organisation concerned with protecting wildlife and important natural environments in the Tees Valley, we know climate change is a big threat and that we need to transition quickly to a low carbon economy to make sure people and wildlife can thrive in this area.”

Phil Davies, director at Community Energy Cumbria Ltd, said: “With Cumbria experiencing three major flood events in the last decade and with the rural economy struggling, it has been heartening to witness so many Cumbrian residents willing to invest their money and passion in community renewable energy projects. Whilst local procurement has undoubtedly benefitted Cumbrian businesses, the distribution of profits back into communities has begun a renaissance in true sustainability. We really need the Government to acknowledge that supporting community renewable energy represents the perfect vehicle for job creation, social well-being and environmental common sense. Surely this is what we all want a northern powerhouse to deliver.”

Gordon Watts, sustainability manager at the South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “South Yorkshire Housing Association is committed to improving the environmental sustainability of our housing stock. The use of renewables such as solar PV and solar thermal in some of our existing housing schemes helps to keep our customers’ energy bills down and to tackle fuel poverty. But, like all other stock investments, financial viability is a key consideration and as such SYHA would strongly back continued Government support for clean renewable energy in the North and across the UK until the renewables sector is fully mature”.