I am passionate about communication and creativity, but I have struggled to find my place in the environmental movement. The climate crisis is often discussed using unfamiliar terms and industry-specific examples. People with no background in climate science can be left confused, struggling to understand how they can engage. We know ‘something needs to be done’, but what can we do?
When I received funding from the Climate Coalition as part of Great Big Green Week 2021, I knew that I wanted to use the funding to highlight the role of art in the climate movement. Art challenges ‘business-as-usual’ models, and invites us to push beyond the limitations of ‘what is possible’. Art encourages us to think outside the box, it’s a driver of social change. Art can promote the long-term vision we need in our climate movements.
Alongside Friends of the Earth, I used the funding to commission a climate mural in Northern Ireland. Murals play a critical role in Northern Irish history, often suggesting conflict and division. Instead, this climate mural points to a fairer and more sustainable world, while demonstrating how art gets us there. Northern Ireland is the only nation in the UK without its own climate legislation – our hope is that the mural helps secure a pioneering climate bill.
Lydia Neish (Tearfund NI) secured a terrific wall at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast. The Skainos Centre was designed with sustainability in mind, and the building operates in a way that minimises its environmental impact. As a community centre, Skainos also provides a shared space for diverse groups of people to connect and collaborate.
The immensely talented mural artist Danni Simpson made creative use of the wall space at Skainos. Painted in soft greens and blues, the beautiful image displays a pair of interlocking arms surrounded by wildlife and biodiversity. The message ‘Act Now’ is tattooed across the wrists: a call for system change, and an invitation to Northern Irish politicians to address the climate catastrophe.
My involvement in this mural project, and the ‘Take A Stand’ campaign, taught me the importance of collaboration in climate movements. From its conception to installation, the mural project was the direct result of collective effort and collaborative decision-making. In our climate activism, we need to include voices from different sectors, communities, faith groups, and social backgrounds. These unique perspectives help create a shared vision of a better world, leading to innovation and large-scale transformation.
If you want to support us, check out these tips:
- visit the climate mural at the Skainos Centre
- share photos of the mural on Instagram, tagging @catchyerselfonpodcast @foenorthernireland and @tearfundni
- contact me directly on Instagram @catchyerselfonpodcast if you want to get involved in climate action in Northern Ireland!