Murals to inspire action to protect biodiversity in national art competition


Young people invited to raise awareness of biodiversity loss and climate change and send a message of hope through street art.

Young people are being called on to submit designs for the Grantham Climate Art Prize 2021 by pioneering energy company Octopus Energy and young community campaigners UK Youth for Nature in partnership with the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. 

The Prize will comprise a series of community murals to raise awareness of local climate change issues and inspire action ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November.

Photo shows a Black boy in school uniform sitting at a desk drawing on a large sheet of paper, it reads 'pick a side' and shows a melting glacier
Guiseppe attends a workshop in Hackney to learn about climate change and art

To highlight the issue of biodiversity loss – at a time when a quarter of UK mammals are at risk of extinction and 60% of UK’s most important species have decreased in abundance – all designs must feature at least one regional endangered species.

Seven winning designs will be selected and displayed as murals on walls in outdoor locations throughout the country, including in regional Real World Science network art galleries and museums, on social media, on advertising billboards.

The seven winning designs will be transformed into murals by professional artists, and in addition the winners will receive £250 in cash.

Murals will be painted in Brighton, Glasgow, Hackney (London), Leicester, Nottingham, Rochdale and Stoke-on-Trent, and scientists have picked out species of animals, plants and other life that are locally important or under threat because of humans.

For example, the Nottingham mural, painted by artist Anna Wheelhouse could feature one of local species: Atlantic Salmon, Barbastelle Bat, Eurasian Beaver, Grass-of-Panassus, Grizzled Skipper, Hazel Dormouse, Nottingham Catchfly, Peregrine Falcon, Water Vole, White Clawed Crayfish.

Read the Grantham Institute's important species list for the competition locations (choose to open or download a PDF document)

The judging panel includes climate experts at the Grantham Institute, Octopus Energy, UK Youth for Nature, the UK’s leading youth-led network calling for urgent action to address loss of nature and wildlife, members of the Natural History Museum’s Real World Science network and regional mural artists.

Photo is a portrait of Martin Siegert, a white man in his middle age with dark short hair, he wears a suit jacketProfessor Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, says: "Art has the potential to inspire minds and touch emotions in a way that science alone often finds challenging. Public art offers us a way to engage broad audiences to appreciate the climate problem in multiple interesting and imaginative ways, often reflecting local as well as global issues and consequences. We hope the Grantham Climate Art Prize will help raise public awareness at this critical moment, and fuel political determination at COP26 in Glasgow this year."

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, says: "Young people gave the world a much-needed wake-up call on the climate emergency. We can’t wait to see the designs these young minds will develop, and we hope this competition will further fuel the debate on climate change and biodiversity in families and schools throughout the country."

Aura Goldman is Creative Director of UK Youth for Nature’s ‘Natural Kingdom: Wild Walls’ campaign, in which mural artists are creating seven additional murals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to draw attention to biodiversity loss. She says: "The Grantham Climate Art Prize couldn’t be happening at a more critical time, as there has never been a better or more urgent moment to tackle the nature and climate crises together. Engaging people’s imaginations, these murals will provide a point of reference from which to address the government’s progress towards effective policy and action on nature. The longevity of these murals will sustain public engagement with the importance of robust ecosystems for years."

Helen Cammock, winner of the Turner Prize and Max Mara Art Prize for Women, who is the patron of the Grantham Climate Art Prize, says: "Art is a powerful way of communicating ideas, thought and emotion. I feel privileged to support a prize that enables young artists to communicate their commitment, ideas and sense of urgency about how we tackle the climate crisis."

Dr Will Pearse, Senior Lecturer in Applied Ecology at Imperial College London, and one of the scientists supporting the Grantham Climate Art Prize, says: "We are seeing the impacts of climate change only now beginning to start. We are beginning to have losses of species. What we are in danger of losing is not just the species themselves, but also the services that they provide us."

Read more and enter the competition.


Simon Levey

Simon Levey
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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Climate-change, Comms-strategy-Inclusive-community, Environment, Nature
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