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Watch Moths some more?

Watch Moths (to a Flame) with us!

Early on in the face of the Pandemic, when we couldn’t sit side by side to contemplate all that Moths To A Flame could mean we were given funds from The Arts Council and Plymouth Energy Community to support a series of broadcasts about moths and energy.  We called these broadcasts Watch Moths. 

We didn’t know for sure how successful it would be, but we knew we wanted to reach out and show how the natural world, our energy system, the future of this planet is all connected.  We wanted to engage more people, perhaps some that we wouldn’t reach otherwise, to have conversations about moths and energy.  We knew that, although the Virus wasn’t going away, neither was the Climate Emergency.  We wanted to do something positive and creative that would help people feel less powerless and keep their own energy up in the face of change. 

Chloe Uden has been enjoying making moths from homemade Oak gall ink prints.

We have been amazed at the interest in moths.  We have found some watchers who haven’t even noticed moths much before, others that want to record more and be useful in doing so.  We have found artists and poets who have been caught up and inspired by Moths.  And we have encouraged amateurs to notice what moths might fly into the bathroom at night or settle under a cardboard box till morning.  Dave, from Lazercutz of our Art and Energy collective moth-team has even designed a flatpack Moth trap! 

Moth-ers and infinity 

Moth-ers come from a wide range of origins.  Some have been interested in nature since they were 5, others love the outdoors and have been identifying moths for a few years.   There are even artist Moth-ers who are curious about the infinite variety and evolution that has taken place on the planet to create a very specific life cycle of a species of moth. 

This Buff Tip is by Sarah Gillespie, an artist Moth-er who specialises in mezzotints – see more on her website: You can see Sarah explaining some of her work in our August Watch Moths

Our amazing Moth-ers include Devon Moth Group members Amy Walkden, Barry Henwood, all round entomologist and artist John Walters, Butterfly Conservation specialist Richard Fox, nature lover Simon Bates and birder as well as Moth-er, Will Scott  and Wilding Ecologist, Dave Barker. 

Treble Lines – a delicate moth found in Richard Fox’s garden.

Our last 2020 Watch Moths

During our last Watch Moths we flew across the country to Glasgow, where the delayed COP26 is due to be held next November. 

Moth-ers from around the country joined us while we experimented with the technology. To connect us all together.  The energy in the  chat on zoom seemed enough to power a whole new series! 

There was Dan Forman from Swansea University, who entertainingly philosophised about inter-relationships between all living things Dave Hodgson in Cornwall with his dog, Director of Exeter University Centre for Ecology and Conservation, he has been moth trapping and writing music during lockdown – check out Antipodeans . There was a wide spread of RSPB moth-ers and representation  Rutland, the smallest county in England, Rob Cooke as well as Sarah Shuttleworth from Somerset (Mighty Moth Girl). 

The night was wet and cold, but we still had a few jewels who were attracted by the light.


The star of the show with several Merveille du jour (this one found by Viv in Bedfordshire.)

The youngsters from the Baltic Adventure Playground, Glasgow made their own moth trap with Ella Wright, but didn’t catch any moths where the rabbits were kept – better luck next time! 

Next time, next year, in 2021, we hope to come back for more broadcasts like Watch Moths, with new and renewable energy.  See you then!

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Success for Art and Energy

Arts Council England fund new research

Chloe Uden, Jenny Ayrton and Naomi Wright were all successful at gaining individual grants from Arts Council England to support their innovative and thought-provoking work.   

While COVID 19 makes other planned collaborative and community-based activities more difficult this grant will help to keep up the momentum in their research and development of their arts practice.  

The Art and Energy collective project, Moths to a Flame, will benefit.  New works will now be able to fly!

Chloe Uden

“I can’t believe it; it’s such a powerful thing being given a grant to explore your art practice and pursue questions that take you to the next level of understanding’. 

 Chloe will be researching solar tech and resins in textiles for new works that incorporate sails or wings.

‘Firstly, I am undertaking some research and development to advance my knowledge and skills of making solar photovoltaics integrated with resin and fabric to enable me to make solar moth wings that generate electricity. I need to explore a number of elements including resin casting, electrical threads, types of fabric, ways to display the fabric and connectors and converters.

Secondly, I am going to document the experience of being in my particular cocoon thinking about art and energy. I’d like to revisit some of the investigations I’ve made into this space over the past few years from the perspective of social isolation and explore what arises from this new view of the world

Jenny Ayrton

‘This opportunity is so exciting, I love reusing broken electronic or mechanical things and turning them into new, working, art objects. I have been meaning to delve into low voltage electronics for ages! Now I can create new experimental solar- and people-powered artworks!

I’m also thinking about how we can present our work via online platforms – this is likely to include Facebook Live and basic video editing apps.

Naomi Wright

‘Well I have been lucky enough to get some funding to research what I can do with Cyanotypes. I will be using this technique, that uses the sun’s energy, to explore life stages of ‘moths’, making cocoons, developing a process that I can be confident about for future fund-raising activities and workshops.

I am also going work with the others on the best online platform to use for moth nights live, internet-based energy consequences and other practical ways forward when social distancing is so necessary.

With this grant I am  being given the time to re-engage with ways to strengthen connections with nature (such as forest bathing) to feed into all our energy based projects.’

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Scrapstore solar signs

Art and energy are working on a new solar sign for Plymouth Scrapstore

We all enjoyed the first of  three workshops in Plymouth Play Scrapstore to develop a  Moths to a Flame solar sign that lights up in the evening.

Here are Jenny and Rob outside Plymouth Scrapstore and the kit they are using to test out our scrap solar cells.  Are the cells energetic enough to light little LEDs for our new signs?

Like Moths to a Flame we want to play in Plymouth Scrapstore

Our visitors made some glowing moths to add to the development of an installation of thousands going to the big Climate Change conference (COP 26) in Glasgow in November with Plymouth Energy Community (PEC).

And, like this one, some paper moths found themselves stuck to the window, waiting for the new sign.  

While developing ideas we watch and learn from those making the moths – so many colours and imaginative patterns.  Nearly as many as the real moths themselves at our windows at home.

Plymouth Play Scrapstore has welcomed us and is helping us bring something new, magical  and colourful to the area.


We collaged ideas for a design for the solar panel sign......

.....And we had loads of creative conversations - there is a lot of love at Scrapstore

Here are Felicity and Kate having a creative chat about ideas for projects.

Rowena said that her piece reflected the rainbow raindrops in the window and Plymouth specific nature like seagulls.  Plus  ‘the hearts in the picture are because there is a lot of love in Scrapstore.’

Naomi also recorded visitors comments about future wishes for the environment and society with the Speakpipe app. on our front page. She said that ‘Anyone can have a go and leave us a message for the planet – we would love to hear it.’

The final sign will be made out of some of Scrapstore’s reusable materials, solar cell spare pieces and recycled wires, with as little new equipment as possible.

We are looking forward to the next two workshops when we all make the sign.  There will be painting, collaging, soldering, wiring up, cups of tea and excitement.

Nudge of Union street, and Plymouth Energy Community have helped fund this project.