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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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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.


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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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Make your (solar) future with the Crafts Council

We’re thrilled to announce that Art and Energy director Jenny Ayrton has been selected to be part of the Crafts Councils exciting ‘Make Your Future’ project.

Jenny will be working with pupils from two Cornish secondary schools to create solar artworks around the theme of sustainability. 

Jenny Ayrton with moth solar artwork created at Penryn 2019

What is 'Make Your Future'?

The Crafts Council is a national development agency, championing craft in the UK. This is the 4th year of ‘Make Your Future’, their project bringing together secondary schools, makers and expert partners to reignite a passion for making in schools, and to tackle some of the challenges faced by craft education.

Previous years have focused on Yorkshire, Birmingham and London, with crafting heritage themes. This year eight secondary schools have been selected from across Cornwall, and makers have been encouraged to focus on sustainability, both in terms of the materials and techniques used, and the subject of resulting artworks. The students’ creations will be exhibited at Falmouth University this summer, sign up to our mailing list to find out more details as they’re confirmed.

crafts council_lowres

What will the students make?

In each of the two schools Jenny will work with the students to create a pair of solar artworks… paintings that create a charge! These will return to the schools after the exhibition to create a lasting legacy: staff and students will be able to use them to charge USB batteries for school equipment.

Each cohort of students will also create a collaged ‘energy landscape’: a collaborative visual reflection of eco-issues such as how they consume electricity, and the ways that they can see this being generated in the landscape around them (lots of lovely big wind turbines for example!). They will be encouraged to find out more about eco-projects in their local area, particularly ones where they can get involved to make a positive change. The resulting artwork will include LEDs and small motors that can be powered by their solar artworks.

The students will learn to solder (tabbing-up cells and copper-foiling glass), engrave glass, reverse paint glass, and create simple electronic circuits. Art & Energy CIC is all about experiencing our energy system in a creative, tactile, fun and engaging way… this project should do that!

Where can I find out more?

More information about the ‘Make Your Future’ project can be found at

Jenny will blog here with updates over the next few months. If you are interested in hosting a similar project, or have any questions about her workshops then please do email us, we would love to hear from you.


#make your future @CraftsCouncilUK

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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.

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Moths to a Flame at Illuminate in Plymouth

Solar powered moth trap - Moths to a Flame

Art and Energy want to make a new artwork for COP 26

At the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, in  2015, for the first time in human history, all nations were united in the common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. 

COP 26 will be held in Glasgow in November 2020, and the Art and Energy Collective and Plymouth Energy Community want to create an artwork that speaks of our relationship with energy, the destructive nature of our old systems and that gathers our voices together to press for system change.

We want to send a message to leaders that we are willing to participate, aware of the consequences of inaction and understand the importance of the individual in making positive change.

Plans for a solar powered art installation made by hundreds of people in the South West of England

In our first steps to develop this new artwork, we developed an installation with Plymouth Energy Community Volunteers for the Illuminate Festival in Plymouth (26 Nov – 2 Dec 2019).

Participants helped us to make 160  Moths  which were suspended around a solar powered moth trap. The moths’ wings decorated in UV paint revealed colours that were only visible under black light. 

Over the next year, we would like to develop a much larger installation bringing together the voices of people from the South West and asking our policy makers for system change around energy, to save us, our natural world and the planet from our dependence on the energy systems of old.

Please get in touch with our team if you can help us realise this ambitious piece.

Moths to a Flame - Participants making glow in the dark moths
Feedback for Moths to a Flame at Illuminate in Plymouth 2019
Feedback for Moths to a Flame at Illuminate in Plymouth 2019

This project has been generously supported by Plymouth Energy Community, PEC Pals and our wonderful friends from LaserCutz

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Dads make solar panel artworks with their kids!

Throughout October and November this year, a small group of dads and their kids worked with Art and Energy at Kaleider Studios in Exeter to make their own solar panel artworks.

This project was made possible with the help of Exeter Community Energy who supplied the tools that enable Art and Energy to deliver workshops for all sorts of groups.

How do you make a solar panel artwork?

Session 1: The first step in making a solar panel artwork is to create your design – choose where you want your solar cells to go and the draw or paint of the surface of the glass to create a mask that hides the tabbing wires.

Rather than spend ages planning it out, our group had a think about things that remind them of energy, and they dove straight in.

Session 2: The second stage of making the solar panel is very delicate work, soldering tabbing wire to the solar cells took lots of team work for the dads and their kids. 

Once all the cells have tabbing wire attached to them, a sheet of EVA glue holds them in place on the glass and more soldering is needed to connect all the cells together in a circuit.

Only then can you finish encapsulating all the circuit in more EVA glue to stop it getting wet and protect it a little from breaking.

Session 3: The final stage of building the artwork requires testing with our grow lamps. Once you know the solar panel is working, it can be put into its frame  and then connected to a converter which ensures that you have 5V of power which allows you to plug in a USB.

Our team of makers created 4 new solar panel artworks and they learned more about how solar panels are made.

My favourite bit was soldering” Hector

It is very good” Felix

There was a lot of electrical stuff” Aidan

It was amazing” Ada

Ada and I thoroughly enjoyed every stage of making our solar panel artwork” Bruce

“Truly Unique and also a lot of fun with a working product at the end. Loved it!” Simon

How do I make a solar panel?

If you’re interested in making your own solar panel artwork please come along to one of our workshops in 2020


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People with Power – Making solar panel artworks in Plymouth

Illuminate – People with Power An exploration of our relationship with energy, and its effect on the world around us.

We are in a Climate Emergency and it is essential that we re-connect with energy, its use and effect on the environment.

Creative energy! 

PEC and Art and Energy CIC help residents explore renewable technologies creatively.  The aim is to demystify the technology and empower creative participation in its use.

In a workshop at Ocean Studios prompted by PEC Pal Ian and organised by PEC and Art and Energy; we created solar artworks that charge devices and we are currently working on our first community installations. 

You can get involved with art and energy projects through the PEC Pals art group – please contact

Details of future Solar Panel Artwork making workshops can be seen here


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Big Bang Artworks finally on display in Plymouth!

The journey of making our co-created ‘Big Bang’ solar panel artworks has been rather long and has included quite a collection of people!

We were invited to bring an activity to The Big Bang Fair by Exeter Science Park who were sponsors of the huge and bustling event at WestPoint Arena in June 2019, and over 170 young people joined us to learn how to solder tabbing wire to solar cells and add their designs of objects and items that they associate with the sun.

By the end of the day we had 7 pieces to finish.

This involved spending time at Ocean Studios in Plymouth in July 2019 to decide how to finish the artworks and to sandblast the surface of the glass; adding silver elements in a workshop in Exeter in August; and working with Torbay Climate Action Group at the EyeView shop in Paignton to paint the glass and connect the cells in September (Even local Lib Dem councillor Lee Howgate came and joined in!).

After some final testing at touching up at Kaleider, (and with support from RIO and Plymouth Energy Community) we will now be showing the finished pieces in the Ocean Studios Gallery from 27 November – 1 Dec during the Illuminate Festival.

Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) have a group of PEC Pals have been working with us for over a year now to find ways to bring people together to explore our energy systems through creativity and the group have also made their own solar panel artworks that will be on display at the same time.

The Illuminate Festival Looks like it’s going to be really good, so we hope we’ll get to see you at Ocean Studios in Royal William Yard, Plymouth at some point.quite a