“A creative response to a warming world”
Scientists have been warning against the global temperature rise exceeding 1.5 degrees. At current warming levels, without drastic intervention, we are likely to reach this within the next 11 years. Sweat the Small Stuff invites us to consider how climate change might affect our communities, exploring how small changes might help us to collectively respond to this challenge.
The 1.5 Degrees project team are Liverpool John Moores University Graphic Design and Illustration students and staff who joined us for a 6 month artist residency, working with our Liverpool site to explore how designers, illustrators and creative climate communication can inspire action on climate change. The project incorporates stations along the old 1830 line and Old Cheshire Lines railways to Manchester, and is the first project of a new Community Rail Partnership which is connecting the various Friends Of groups at these stations, resulting in an exhibition of artworks across 7 train stations.
The project team took inspiration from the rich history of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester railway, where George Stephenson’s Rocket ushered in a new age of passenger rail travel. The Liverpool and Manchester railway was at the heart of the rapid expansion of industry, through pioneering rail innovation which acted as a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution, a moment that rooted our reliance on the consumption of fossil fuels. As we face the environmental impact of this expansion and overconsumption, the 1.5 Degrees project team have explored and responded to the history of the railway, looking ahead to how innovation, creativity and creative climate communication might galvanise urgent action in the face of climate change.
The 1.5 Degrees project team are:
- Ana Ortuno Floria
- Puja Varia
- Kira Whyte
- Owen Rutland
- Alyssia Thorburn
- Harry Urand
- Chris Jackson, Senior Lecturer, Graphic Design and Illustration, Liverpool John Moores University
- Stef Bradley, Interim Senior Project Manager, Metal Liverpool
The project resulted in an exhibition of artworks across 7 participating train stations:
- Edge Hill Station
- Huyton Station
- Roby Station
- Urmston Station
- Eccles Station
- Patricroft Station
- Irlam Station
The 1.5 Degrees team’s artist residency and developing the exhibition
To develop the exhibition, the 1.5 Degrees project team joined us as artists-in-residence for a period of 6 months. The team initially explored the history of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester railway, considering the pioneering innovation and creativity that led to the first railway line to carry both passengers and goods between two cities. We explored this industrial innovation as a key moment for our reliance on fossil fuels and considered the expansion of industry that the railway ignites.
Taking inspiration from this history, the team then began considering the environmental challenges that we now face as we move away from our reliance on fossil fuels and work together to tackle climate change. The team began searching for innovation in the North West and people making a positive change in response to the environmental crisis, as well as examples of graphic designers and illustrators acting on climate change. We visited Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre to explore green energy innovation through hydrogen fuel cells and also considered how growing food locally could make our cities more sustainable. We were greatly inspired by our visit to Farm Urban in Liverpool to explore how local food growing solutions can help us to reduce our carbon impact.
A couple of snaps from our visit to Farm Urban to work with their Operations Director Jens Thomas to explore how changes to our food growing and consumption could help us fight climate change.
We also visited Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, to learn about how energy innovation using hydrogen technology could help us reduce our carbon impact!
‘Where Do We Go From Here?’, an artwork created by project artists Owen Rutland and Alyssia Thorburn for display at Eccles Station. The artwork highlights a network of local sustainable organisations who are making a positive impact in response to the environmental crisis.
The resulting exhibition considers the role that artists and creative people can take in responding to the environmental crisis, exploring ways graphic designers and illustrators can join the environmental movement, raise awareness of climate change and inspire collective action in response to the environmental crisis.
Images by Greg Hodge taken at the Sweat the Small Stuff private view
Read blogs from our 1.5 Degrees artists sharing their research and development:
Finding new ways of working sustainably
Throughout the development of the exhibition, we have tried to explore new ways of working sustainably and reducing the environmental impact of the project. The project team used public transport for all our research trips and site visits across the railway and served only plant- based food at our project events. We also developed the project website https://sweatthesmallstuff.org/ with an energy saving low power mode.
Showcasing work outdoors that would be able withstand the weather was a challenge and meant that some of our artworks are printed on vinyl. To offset this impact, we allocated a bit extra from our budget so that the remaining artworks could be printed on recyclable dibond panels. This meant these artworks could be printed directly to the panel to eliminate the use of vinyl and the panels could also be reused for future exhibitions too, as well as being fully recyclable. All the exhibition text panels are also printed on recyclable ecoboard.
Some members of the team also repurposed waste materials into their designs – ‘Eat the Seasons’ artists Puja Varia and Kira Whyte used waste paper and card to create their artwork using collage technique.
‘Eat the Seasons’ by 1.5 Degrees project artists Puja Varia and Kira Whyte at Edge Hill Station, photo: Greg Hodge. A series of protest posters encouraging people to reduce their carbon impact by eating seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Though the exhibition has sadly come to a close, we’re pleased to share that ‘Small Steps’ by Ana Ortuño Floria and ‘Room with a Sea View’ by Harry Urand have found a permanent home at Huyton Station, creating legacy beyond the project.
- Liverpool John Moores University, School of Art and Design
- Northern Rail
- Women in Community Rail
- Liverpool City Region Combined Authority