Puja Varia is part of the 1.5 Degrees project team working on Sweat The Small Stuff. In the blog below, Puja discusses the development of the project and how designers, illustrators and creative climate communication can inspire action on climate change.
Hi! My name is Puja Varia, and I am an Illustration student studying at Liverpool John Moores. I don’t have a set type of style, but I love working with mix media such as collage and print making. This can be seen in a project I did where I explored my culture of eating fruit with my family. I come from a very big fruit eating family!
When I first heard about the 1.5 Degrees Metal project, I was definitely interested in the relationship illustrators can have to contribute to educating on climate change. I also wanted to learn ways I can make my own work more sustainable as well as innovations that are helping the problem of climate change.
By being a part of the project, it allowed me to think more about the different ways we as artists can be sustainable. The visits to the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation centre and the Hydroponic Farm, Farm Urban. Although I didn’t understand a lot of the science when learning about Hydrogen fuel cells, I was able to get bits and bobs from the talk. It helped me learn the important of artists and how they help bridge the gap between education and art. They can respond to things visually to help explain information universally. Another reason it’s important is because (like myself) I was unaware of the ways people are currently creating alternative systems to help the climate change problem. By creating art responding to those themes can make the information a lot easier to digest and more accessible to everyone as well as drawing people in to read on further information.
Farm Urban is one of the biggest inspirations for my work made for the exhibition. It was a farm where a hydroponics system was set under a school where they were growing lettuces! It was visually a very interesting and fun place I would love to visit if the chance came. The lettuces were growing in horizontal tubes with red and blue lights shone onto them to create the perfect growing condition in a basement that otherwise would have no access to light. I was very grateful when I could take the lettuces home and shared with my flatmates later on with my veggie wraps. Honestly the best lettuce I have ever had. The question of how this could help the future was raised and we were explained that with further development it can cause more fruit and vegetables to be grown in places that otherwise wouldn’t have much use. This would cause there to be less carbon footprint due to the locality of the growing. This really stuck with me as I live in a city in and out of term time and would only have access to supermarkets for fruit and veg. It also makes me extremely happy as my mum has drilled into me that eating certain fruit out of season caused the fruit not to taste as good. Whilst growing up I was only able to eat strawberries (my favourite fruit) in summer, but with a system like hydroponics in theory, I could have access to it all year round!
The notion of eating seasonal fruit and veg came to Kira and I after discussing it. We realised that an easy way for a person to help is by being educated on what fruit and vegetables are in season. We also felt it was the supermarkets job to educate on what consumers could eat which I did see in the Tesco. This influenced our work, and we ended up producing protest signs for the exhibition where we can educate as well as putting pressure on big supermarket chains to educate.
One of the many things I have learnt during this residency is how to be more eco-friendly, doing an art degree it may feel it is hard to stay sustainable but due to my practice including collage I always try to use any found material in my work and feel it really helps me find a use for scrapped papers. This has motivated me more to be more sustainable and to think of little everyday changes I can make such as turning off the lights and using paper as much as possible.