Kirsty Woods - review of the tasks

I was invited to take part in a fantastic opportunity at The Point Theatre, Eastleigh. The opportunity was for Emerging Artist and Climate Change Ambassador which was created in response to the climate emergency. It was made up of four workshops where we would learn and experience different art forms such as photography, graffiti, land art, poetry and graphic design. At the end of the four workshops it was hoped that an artistic campaign about climate change consisting of a variety of posters would be produced and then displayed around the Eastleigh area.

We were given sketchbooks at the beginning of the first workshop to use to keep all our ideas and reflections in to help us to create this poster. This entry will talk about what we did in these workshops and my personal experience.

We started the first workshop with a mind map centred around the question ‘how does climate change affect me?’ I thought about specific things that happen around me that impact climate change. This included the use of non-recyclable packaging for food and toiletries, the difference in recycling restrictions around the South and the rate of transport and industrial emissions. I also considered what I have been trying to change in my own life such as becoming vegetarian, using natural toiletries and buying products in recyclable containers.

After using the mind map to generate ideas, we then looked through lots of different books to pick out pictures to create collages. While looking for pictures, I decided I wanted strong, powerful photos that were showing the impact of humans on nature and wildlife. Examples of these pictures were abandoned boats, a poultry factory, a polar bear on the last piece of snow, etc.

The main focus of the photography section was to see what photography techniques we could use with our phones. We learnt about the rule of thirds which is where the subject of the photograph is placed in either the right or left third of the image. We experimented with creating contrast through adding or taking away light. We also looked into how we can play around with the exposure on our individual devices. To practise the techniques we had learnt, we took pictures of a pile of books under a lamp, we moved the lamp around the books to create different shadows and contrasts.

We then went outside to the park next to the Point to use these techniques in a different environment. I wanted to capture things that included nature as well as human impact such as litter. I found taking photos outside more difficult because there was so much around me it was hard to create a composition. I tried to take photos through the opening in a rubbish bin but this was hard as the bin became difficult to recognise. However, we used a torch to light up the word ‘litter’ which enabled the bin and landscape behind it to become visible.

Week 2- Graffiti

At the start of the second session, we were given two sentence starters: ‘when I’m in nature...’ and ‘climate change makes me feel…’ to think about and answer. I wrote words and drew pictures of things that came to mind. For the nature sentence I drew trees, rivers, the ocean and birds. When thinking about climate change, I drew pictures of factories, cars and planes and the emissions they produce. This process helped me to decide that I wanted to use a picture of a car for my graffiti piece.  

After drawing a draft in my sketchbook and figuring out which parts needed to be cut out, I began to work on my stencil. I hadn’t made a stencil before so it was fun to cut the parts out and see how I would use them to create my graffiti piece. Firstly, I cut out the outline of the whole car. I used the card with the car shaped hole to spray the body of my car. Then using the car shaped piece of card, I cut out the smaller details, which were then laid on top so I could spray colour the details. 

We also came together as a group to create a collaborative piece of graffiti. We used the stencils that we had already created but also used items from nature that we picked up, such as branches and leaves to create new, interesting effects.

I did Art GCSE so I am familiar with using different types of paint, however I had never done graffiti before which was unlike anything I did for my GCSE. I learnt that graffiti is very forgiving if you make a mistake because you can just spray over it, but sometimes the lines bleed over due to the stencil not being pushed down properly, but for my first attempt I was pleased with the outcome.

Week 3- Land Art and Poetry  

This workshop was based at Itchen Country Park and focused on Land Art and Poetry. We started by walking around a small area and picking up anything that we were drawn to. These were a mixture of leaves, branches, acorns, rocks, etc.  

To create our piece of land art we started with a circle where we all began to arrange our objects. To create contrast between the darkness of the ground and some of the objects, we had a bucket of pure white chalk to use. This helped to create sections within the art and to bring attention to certain details. The circle then became the centre of the piece and we worked on individual paths that branched off from it.

The next part of the workshop was poetry. I enjoyed this much more than I expected because I think I am more of a visual person rather than word based. However, I found it was a lot easier because I could draw inspiration from the nature around me. I played with ideas of the insignificance of a single person in a huge forest, and how they would remember their time in nature, but the forest would not. To help portray this I used the idea of footprints, that indent the ground for a while before disappearing. I also felt that the feeling of insignificance could be applied to how a person may feel towards climate change and what they could individually do about it.

After creating our poems, we then stood in and around our piece of land art and shared them. I am not the biggest fan of speaking in front of other people, however it was nice to share my idea while stood in our land art, surrounded by nature.   

Week 4- Graphic Design

In the final workshop we learnt about the key things to consider when creating an artistic campaign or poster, by looking at examples of other past campaigns. Examples of key points are the target audience, location, content, one glance, use of colour. 

We also discovered how graphic design is created, used and what effects it can have. 

After each workshop I would add pictures and reflections in my sketchbook to document my thought processes. When I was drafting my poster, I decided that I wanted it to have the same impact my collage did and focus on the effect humans are having on the planet.  

To help me think of ideas, I used my poetry as inspiration, in particular the use of a footprint. The final idea of my poster was a single footprint with a collage of images in it to show some of the negative impacts humans have on the Earth. The text reads, ‘footprints disappear, your actions don’t.’ Overall, I am really proud of the poster and I feel it pushed my creativity and compositional skills. I also hope that at least one person sees my poster and considers one thing they can change to help the planet. 

The workshops provided a place for me to voice my opinions on climate change and to listen to others. It enabled me to continue to learn how to shape my creative skills to express my feelings about climate change through art. It has been an enjoyable and very educational experience.  

Since completing the workshops my family and I have considered other ways we can lessen our impact such as buying non-plastic recyclable pens, walking to the local supermarket to shop, making sure all the lights are off when not in use and finding other ways to cook like using a slow cooker. Even though all of the workshops are finished, I am still thinking about climate change and what else I can do to help.