The environmental impact of the commercial art world has been well documented. From the millions of flights taken by people and artworks, travelling the world for shows and exhibitions, to the mountains of plastic packaging used to wrap works, it is undeniable that the environmental impact is widespread.
It would however be misguided to say that the art world is all bad. Art is playing a fundamental role in raising awareness of the ecological challenges we face. The visual arts can be one of the most powerful tools to create widespread change. For example, the Red Rebel Brigade of Extinction Rebellion, which will be familiar to many as a regular feature of the news across the world, has become a symbol of recent protests against the destruction of the environment. Their striking visuality is enduring, as is their silence which cuts across linguistic barriers to share one universal message: we need to save our planet. Regardless of opinion, it is undeniable that the Red Rebel Brigade is an iconic piece of protest art which is evocative of a time in which concerns about the environment developed a new urgency.
Throughout 2020, artpistol projects (our public art arm) will be utilising the positive impact of visual art in a new project to create 20 murals across Scotland. The murals will illustrate the beauty of nature as well as the challenges facing these locations in terms of climate change. The completion of this project will coincide with the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), one of a series of Conferences taking place all over the world to discuss climate change, which will take place in Glasgow next November. The key being the approach to change the narrative from one of fear and alarm to one of celebration and appreciation for the many different landscapes of Scotland, and also emphasise the imperative to protect these landscapes. An unrelentingly positive approach showing why climate action matters.
With growing concern about the environmental impact of the lives we lead, the art world has come under scrutiny for poor environmental practice. However, we must not forget that art has the capability to express complex ideas in a way that is universally accessible and in this can create profound change in beliefs and practices. This is the first of many articles we’ll be releasing as the project develops.