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International Day of Cooperatives

Did you know that Saturday 4th July 2020 is the International Day of Cooperatives? We think that our Moths To A Flame project is a great example of a cooperative in action, one which has grown significantly over the last few months as we’ve nudged the project to include more digital content.

The Art and Energy business model is a fairly informal collective. We have members and partners with knowledge and experience in all sorts of areas: from Plymouth Energy Community who are proactively seeking change in our domestic energy situations, to Dave and Jo at Lasercutz who are helping us cut solar cells to re-imagine solar panels as beautiful solar artworks, and Miranda who has written and illustrated a beautiful children’s book for Moths to a Flame. One thing that we have in common is a growing concern about the climate crisis, and a desire to see change to benefit our environment. Together we hope to make a difference.

Over the last few months Covid-19 has meant that our meetings have all been held through a computer screen. We have become increasingly confident and fluent in conversing by email and Zoom, but we’ve really missed being able to get together to create and catch up over a solar artwork project and cup of tea! When our partners at PEC told us that the International Co-operative Alliance had chosen the theme of ‘Climate Action’ for 2020, we wanted to do something fun to celebrate and join in… the International Day of Cooperatives has given us the perfect opportunity to get creative  again!

Jenny put together little creative packs that went out in the post to eight of our collective. We then met up one evening via Zoom for a project update and a bit of a tutorial. Each participant painted a moth onto a square of glass, then returned them.

The next stage is to add solar cells nestled within the moth paintings, then combine them to create a single large interactive solar artwork. In the next week or so Jenny will send creative packs out to more of our collective… if there’s one thing it’s made us realise it’s quite how many amazing people we’re working with, this cooperative artwork is set to grow!

As with most of our projects the final piece is already evolving, but that’s the joy of having lots of lovely people cooperating together creatively!

This mini-project was inspired by a conversation with Plymouth Energy Community, who have funded the short film to be released on International Day of Cooperatives, 4th July 2020.

 

Development of the project has been funded by Arts Council England through Jenny’s individual grant. We have found a way to work at a distance, plus Jenny’s using this opportunity to experiment further with the electronics powered by our cooperative solar artwork… keep an eye out here for further progress reports!

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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.’