Street art to make case for climate action beautifully

An existing Glasgow mural from Rogue One and Artpistol. Picture: John DevlinAn existing Glasgow mural from Rogue One and Artpistol. Picture: John Devlin
An existing Glasgow mural from Rogue One and Artpistol. Picture: John Devlin
A series of eye-catching pieces of street art will be springing up on walls across Scotland in the next few months to highlight the ecological challenges facing the planet.

The project, 20 murals for 2020, aims to project a “visual celebration of positive climate change action”.

It comes as Glasgow gets set to host the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP26), a key global summit on international climate action, in November next year.

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Project leader Ali Smith, from Glasgow-based public art organisation ArtPistol Projects, says the mission behind the scheme is to avoid “doom and gloom” and instead “blow people’s minds, help them fall back in love with their environment and inspire positive change”.

The organisers says engagement with the communities where the artworks will be sited is key to the success of the initiative.

Smith said: “Street art is the most accessible form of contemporary art, often influenced by political and social issues. It’s shared obsessively on social media, attracts the mass media and so has great power.

“It changes landscapes and communities for the better, making it a perfect medium to inspire change in diverse communities across the country.

“We are engaging with these communities and discovering how climate change will affect them by getting their personal stories. What that is specific to Scotland will be lost? Every country will be able to relate to what could be regarded as a visual biography of Scotland’s climate issues.

“This could be the missing link for a lot of people to understanding and embracing the changes required.”

Smith added: “We want to showcase what we love and what we stand to lose, what we maybe take for granted. To present the negatives in a positive way, looking at what could be lost if we don’t act. This is not about doom and gloom. It is a wonderfully ambitious, beautiful and uplifting artistic project.”

All the work for the project will be carbon-neutral. A handful of artists and sites have already been identified, including a space provided by the Stornoway Port Authority on the Isle of Lewis and one in Glasgow.

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“We will be working with a carefully selected line-up of Scotland’s top visual artists, the brightest emerging talent and some internationally recognised superstars,” Smith said.

“We have locations across the Highlands and islands, the cities of Scotland, and everywhere in between.

“We are tackling eyesore buildings in areas of raw natural beauty, areas on the front line.

“Picture an old decaying industrial installation on a sea cliff on the Outer Hebrides being transformed into a positive message about sea levels. And the drone footage flying over forest tree tops, reaching a clearing where a brutal conflicting structure sits, now a piece of art showing why the forests are so vital.

“Or a tenement gable in the east end of Glasgow highlighting the benefits of efficient energy use to the thousands who pass every single day.

“Peatlands, historically significant locations, the list goes on. The stories are numerous, the canvases vast and diverse.”

The project, which is being funded through sponsorship, has been welcomed as an inspiring symbol of the bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet Scotland’s world-leading climate targets.

Dr Martin Valenti, head of climate enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, said: “These spectacular images will be a bold statement about Scotland’s aspirations for promoting climate opportunity and for raising awareness of why we need to take a strong leadership role in driving to net-zero 2045.

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“The true power of Scotland, as illustrated beautifully in Glasgow is its people, so these striking and inspiring images not just in Glasgow but across Scotland will remind us of why we are tackling climate change and why all of Scotland is involved.”