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The Moth’s Whisper

New moth inspired artworks emerge from lock down cocoon in Devon ready to respond to the climate emergency.

Exeter based writer and Illustrator Miranda Barlow has been busy during lockdown writing a new picture book called ‘The Moth’s Whisper’ and it will be publish this Friday with a public reading via Zoom at The Art and Energy Collective’s free Watch Moth’s event.

‘The Moth’s Whisper’ tells the story of Marny, a newly emerged Yellow Underwing moth as she looks for the moon and discovers the world of humans.

Have a look inside the book!

As we are all returning to the world from our cocoons of isolation, we might also see more clearly how energetic and distracting our civilisation is and how much needs to change for us to respond to the climate emergency.

This lovely illustrated picture book is “A strong and clear encouragement for young people to get involved to make a change for the better.” – Steve Voake

What to expect at August’s free Watch Moths zoom celebration

This month’s online ‘Watch Moths’ Zoom event will take place at 8-9pm on Friday the 21st August and 8-9am on Saturday the 22nd August. You can book a place online.

The free family friendly event will explore real and imaginary moths of Devon and includes:

  • Moth trapping with experts from Devon Moth Group
  • New Moth-er Dave Neale who will show how he made his own moth trap
  • Fabulous artworks from Sarah Gillespie,
  • Poetry from Plymouth’s poet Laureate Thom Boulton and the newly formed Mandy Moore Band Club
  • A free augmented reality colouring sheet that you can print off, colour in and get to flutter around your room with the QuiverVision app
  • As well as an invitation for you to participate in the creation of a Mass Participation Art Installation called Moths to a Flame for COP26 (The UN’s conference on Climate Change that’s due to take place in the UK in November next year)!



We invite you to join Miranda and the ART and ENERGY Collective to hear the story of Marny the Moth and find out how to join in this Friday’s Watch Moths Zoom event coming from locations all across Devon.

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Watch Moths – Episode 1& 2 – 26 & 27 June 2020

The Art and Energy Collective present Watch Moths, the first in a series of moth watching events that people can join in with live via zoom. (Visit our moth events page for more information)

This event is part of Art and Energy’s Moths to a Flame project which is supported by Arts Council England and national lottery players.

During this zoom recording you will find out about the Art and Energy Collective as well as some of our partners including Plymouth Energy Community and you will find out about the beautiful moths of Devon.

Meet our moth experts John Walters, Amy Walkden Dave Barker and Simon Bates and find out more about how to look for moths near you!

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Oak Gall Ink recipe – Moths to a Flame

I collected some oak galls from my local park with my boys in Autumn last year because someone told me it was easy enough to make gall ink, which is a permanent ink that darkens over time. 

Oak galls a made by wasps in acorns and are also used by some moths after the wasps are finished with them!

Apparently oak gall ink was used by Leonardo da Vinci! We didn’t follow an exact recipe, but kind of made it up as we went along…but here are some pictures of the process which I hope will give you an idea of what to do if you decide to make some yourself!

1 large bowl of dried oak galls – finely ground (we used a coffee grinder)

Mixed with water and left for a week

1 bowl with rusty things in it – soaked in clear vinegar for a week

Use a cloth to strain the water and vinegar together

Mix with a few teaspoons of gum arabic powder.

then you’re done!

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Lockdown Location

We’ve all been stuck at home during quaratine, and through this time, Jenny’s been experimenting with disused garden solar lights that have been donated to us as part of a recent project to make a door sign for Plymouth Scrapstore.

Here is her latest piece Lockdown Location. We’re planning to run workshops when we can all get back together teaching people how to make these fabulous and unusual solar artworks.

Thank you in particular to Kaleider for all their support throughout this tricky period. 

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Moths to a Flame at Plymouth Art Weekender

We’re really delighted to have been given some seed funding from the Plymouth Art Weekender’s crowdfunding event during ‘LockDown’ to help us deliver some Moths to a Flame activities in Plymouth .

This means that we’ll be holding an exhibition in Plymouth during the Art Weekender in Sept 2020 and also delivering 500 free mega moth kits to people in the city.

If you want to know more about this as it happens, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and instagram!

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solar door number 1 – Turns light into electricity

What happens when you combine things that appear to be quite different?

This is what students of combined honors subjects at the University of Exeter have to do every day!

How do you balance competing demands? How do you make sense of things that could appear at first to be opposites? How do you manage your energy and stay creative?

These are questions that we considered when developing this new artwork with staff and students at the University of Exeter.

As we’ve seen through ‘Lock Down’, The future may not look anything like the past – The way we think and feel will change and we have a chance now to build a more beautiful future.

Here is a short film about this new artwork made for The Art and Energy Collective by Lauren Sawyer.

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How our social enterprise has been supported!

Art and Energy are grateful for all the support we’ve been given over the last twelve months!

 Art and Energy has received all sorts of support advice and good will and it has made a huge difference to out work and what we’ve been able to do.



In particular we’ve been grateful for support from:

  • Our team, our board and the wonderful volunteers who work with us and without whom we wouldn’t exist!
  • Dartington School of Social Entrepreneurs  & The Enhance Social Enterprise Network supported by ERDF – who have given us advice and training in this first year as a CIC
  • UnLtd – for helping us learn new skills and develop our social enterprise
  • The Solar Group at The University of Exeter in Penryn – who help us with testing and help us understand the tech better
  • The Fab Lab in Plymouth – who are helping us develop new ways of fabricating our solar artworks
  • Exeter Community Energy – for helping us get hold of kit to run our workshops
  • LOF Solar – who supply our colour solar cells
  • LaserCutZ – who cut our solar cells
  • Plymouth Energy Community – for helping us develop our work in Plymouth
  • Kaleider for generously support and hosting us at their studios
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A big thank you to Imogen Cunningham!

We are so delighted that Imogen Cunningham, a student at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Crediton has joined the Art and Energy collective as a volunteer to support the development of our Moths to a Flame project as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award.

So far, she’s been helping us make the beautiful paper moths that form part of the workshops that we’ve been test-running and she’s planning to run her own moth making workshop with other students at her school!

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Join us in making ‘Moths to a Flame’ for COP26


You may already know that COP26 is taking place this year in November in Glasgow (UN Conference on Climate Change). We feel like this is a big deal so do our friends at Plymouth Energy Community (PEC). Between us, we’ve started to help lots of people feel connected and involved.




our plan

So, in collaboration with PEC The Art and Energy Collective is planning to invite people to join us in building an artwork called ‘Moths to a Flame’ which will be installed at The Kibble Palace at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens during the conference.

Throughout 2020, thousands of participants will make a glow in the dark moth and record a message for COP26 which will form part of an immersive visual and sound experience in the palace.

The installation will be powered by some extra special solar artworks.

The piece will return to the South West for Plymouth’s Illuminate Festival.

Ways to get involved with Moths to a Flame

We’re planning a whole lot of engagement events to give people the opportunity to join in and feel connected to this exciting event for our future. We will announce these on our facebook pages and our website soon.

We’ll be:

  • inviting people to make moths and record their message for COP 26
  • running moth nights to find out more about moths in our region
  • sending out moths for people who are unable to come to our events to make and send back
  • preparing moth making packs for groups to run their own events and make on their own
  • running workshops in schools
  • delivering drop in sessions at other people’s events 

Drop in sessions allow people to spend upwards of 5 minutes in a simple and enjoyable act of creative hope. They are suitable for small children and adults alike.

Dates for events will be included on our website when we officially launch this project.

If you’d like to host a workshop or drop in session please get in touch!

we’re looking for volunteers to join The  Art and Energy Collective

We’re right at the beginning of this exciting project that will take place across the year, culminating in the exhibition in November

In order to make a real impact with this project, we’ll need lots of help to make it all happen.

We’re looking for:

  • Someone who likes organising events to help us set up and deliver our participation sessions
  • Someone who enjoys working with wood to help us make the solar panel artworks for the exhibition
  • People who like crafting and would be able to help us prepare our moths
  • People who like moths and are interested in moth identification
  • Someone who has an eye for beautiful design to help us get the online artwork right
  • Someone who’s interested in solar power and energy storage to help us connect our solar artworks with the moth/audio installation
  • Someone who understands sound installations and would be willing to work with us to get our voices heard
  • People who can help us tell the story of the participants involved in this project and make a noise so that COP26 delegates know about the project

Our collective is based in Plymouth and Exeter, so ideally you would be based nearby.

Are you one of these people? If so, please do get in touch with us! (Ideally as soon as possible!)


We’re looking for funders to support Moths to a Flame

We need to raise around £40k over the next few months to make the project happen.

This will pay for:

  • Materials to build the installation of moths
  • Materials to build the solar artworks and the storage units
  • Kit to make the sound installation work
  • Exhibition costs in Glasgow and at Illuminate Festival in Plymouth
  • Workshops in schools and other community events

We’re very grateful to LaserCutz who have given their time to cut the moths.

Exeter Community Energy are backing us to build one of the solar artworks with a group of volunteers who’d like to be involved with the project.

So we’re looking for sponsors, and launching a crowdfunder in March to help make the project happen.

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Introducing Jenny Ayrton

Introducing Art & Energy’s director, glass artist Jenny Ayrton

Hi, I’m Jenny. I’m an artist working predominantly with glass. I live near Plymouth, Devon, with my husband, two young daughters, and two dogs. I graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2012, and participated in the Crafts Council Hothouse scheme in 2014; until I got involved with Art and Energy most of my work was very product orientated; creating beautiful desirable objects which sold through galleries. I also run workshops in wirework, sand- casting and etching glass. more details at

how did you get involved with the art and energy collective?

Art and Energy’s founders, Chloe and Naomi, came along to a glass etching workshop in my Plymouth studio. I remember seeing the booking pop-up in my inbox, and being intrigued by Chloe’s email address, I looked up their website and a metaphorical light bulb lit up… I’d never come across a project like theirs, and it sounded really exciting!

We got on well during the etching workshop, discovering shared interests in creativity, the environment, and cake! A few weeks later I attended one of their workshops at Plymouth College of Art Fablab which they ran in conjunction with Plymouth Energy Community. I enjoyed a fab creative afternoon where we learnt about other projects around the world which combined art and energy. We were then encouraged to imagine an artwork for Plymouth.

Chloe and Naomi invited me to deliver a workshop for six 7-11 year olds. I helped them to etch their own designs onto glass, and then in subsequent sessions they built a solar panel onto the back. The moment when they plugged a phone in and it went ping to show that it was charging… utter magic! Find out more about the Blue Peter Project here.

In February 2019 I officially joined as a director of Art and Energy. Since then I’ve been involved in running workshops and demonstrations, and am currently working on a series of ‘crazy inventor’ style artworks which will be solar powered.

as an artist how do you now feel about energy?

Before joining Art and Energy I mostly felt guilty…

  • I was creating artworks using molten glass, an energy-demanding process using imported materials.
  • Renewable energy options such as solar panels were outside of our household budget.
  • I often listen to BBC radio 4, and they have a lot of programmes dedicated to environmental issues… leaving me feel informed but frustrated not knowing what I could do to help.
  • As the mother to two young daughters the feeling of ‘eco-guilt’ was overwhelming. How could I possibly feed them a healthy diet when everything comes wrapped in plastic… and plastic is evil!

Since working with Art & Energy I feel empowered. I certainly don’t feel like I have the answers to the global problem, but every time that I show someone what goes into a solar panel – that there’s no black magic or rocket science involved in making a solar panel – well it feels like light bulbs light up in my and their heads!

what would my dream art & energy project be?

I have so, so, so many ideas… but at the moment number one would be to go into schools to demonstrate to the next generation that if I can make a solar panel then so can they… and what’s really exciting is that I will be doing this in 2020!

The Crafts Council have selected me as one of their ‘Make your Future’ craftsmen. In the summer term I’ll be going into two Cornish secondary schools and working with some of their KS3 pupils. In each school we’ll create two solar-panel artworks, which will power an energy landscape artwork for display in an exhibition at Falmouth University. After the exhibition the solar-panel artworks will return to the schools, where they can be used to charge USB devices and stimulate further conversation in the wider school community.

Sign up for our newsletter for updates on this and other exciting Art & Energy projects!

Find out more about Crafts Council ‘Make Your Future’ here.