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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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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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Solar artwork making – Exeter

I can’t wait to take this home and show my friends and family! The workshop was outstanding  Participant

I love the combination of art and science, I wish it was like this when I was at school!” Participant

I was nervous about the art bit, because I don’t think I’m creative, but the workshop leaders were really supportive and I’m so happy with what I made!” Participant

Join solar panel artists Chloe Uden and Naomi Wright and make your own solar panel artwork that can power your devices.

(£120) Friday 24 January 2020 – 9:30 – 5:00

This workshop will be held at our space in Kaleider Studios so you will get a rare chance to see where we work and maybe even some of the other pieces we’re developing!

During this day long enjoyable workshop you will

  • learn about solar energy
  • design and create your own solar panel artwork
  • tab up solar cells
  • connect the electrical components
  • test your pieces
  • and then get charging your phone!

No previous knowledge or skills required.

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Girl power

To be fair, no-one ever told me I couldn’t make solar panel artworks.

There were plenty who were skeptical, but, the majority of my experience to date has been of exceptional, unexpected, generous and enthusiastic support from people who want us to succeed in our venture. 

But you know, I’ve been in a few technology and engineering colleges….and there aren’t very many women there.

It made me think…..Women are invited….in fact, we are encouraged and needed, to participate in every aspect of humanity’s response to the climate emergency and studies show that diversity in the work environment can increase innovation.


When I look back, I wonder – Why didn’t I go into STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Maths ) straight away?

I remember 100% test results in my electronics class; all those satisfying maths problems; beautiful graphs and diagrams; playable data; intriguing science experiments; mind-blowing discussions about the nature of the universe…. I really loved STEM stuff. So why did I decide to do something else?

Maybe because I was also good at other stuff that I got more praise for: Like singing, dancing, acting, drawing.

Maybe it was something to do with freedom: I remember thinking at 16 – If I study art, I can explore science in my work, but if I study science, it will be harder to explore art.


When we first made a solar panel artwork at the kitchen table, I realised that playing with energy is MUCH more fun and creative than I had realised before… and also MUCH easier.

That’s not to say that it is without any risks…you have to be careful with the kit!….and nothing ALWAYS works…but, that’s part of the fun. Working with solar cells requires careful attention, and if you give it that, then you can make your own electricity and use it to power something in your life.


Over the weekend, we ran a solar charger making workshop with a brilliant group of girls between the ages of 9 and 11 and their grown-ups.

Thank you to Exeter Community Energy for supplying the kit to run the workshop!

What was so noticeable for me was how skillful, focused and thoughtful this young group were.

It was really heartening to see parents supporting their girls to experience things they wouldn’t necessarily get to do at school: Soldering, using sharp tools, and power tools.

Each of them came away having learned a bit more about solar power, they achieved something tricky, found solutions to problems, and developed skills for resilience.

Their solar panel chargers will be something that they can use, share and tell a good story about.

I hope we’ve helped these young women to see themselves getting creative with STEM for the future.

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Artworks charging phones at TedX Exeter 2019 – The Art of the Possible

Art and Energy will be providing phone charging points at TedX Exeter tomorrow!

In the exhibition hall, visitors will have the chance to stop and recharge with a cuppa a snack and works of art that charge their phones!

This year our speakers will explore issues from the potential of AI to solve global challenges to human rights, ocean optimism and social mobility, under the overarching theme The Art of the Possible

Tickets are sold out but anyone who missed out will be able to watch the day online or at FREE drop in livestream events .

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Solar Artworks Unveiled

We unveiled our first solar panel artworks at MikroFest at Kaleider on the 15th of March.

Here is a piece by Emma Ruminski for the BBC that tells you a little bit more about them.

We are looking for places to show off these works, so if you know somewhere that we should show our works, please get in touch.

“Fantastic work! So exciting to see you bringing energy to life. I feel so inspired and can’t wait to see how this evolves!Fleur Disney, Community Energy London

“I love the way you’ve take the inner beauty of the crystals in the panels and made them the centre of the artTrevor Sharp

“This is wonderful and inspiring work – I would love to see it ‘scaled-up’ perhaps a cathedral or an enormous building…” Matt Harvey, Poet

“Stunning. Great work” Dom Jinks, Exeter Culture

“Lots of Potential in this idea!” Andy Slaney, SGS Berkeley

“Sensational exhibition for hope and beauty” Randall Wright



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No more tickets available for the unveiling of our first solar panels! But…….

It’s very exciting that we’ve already booked ALL the tickets for the unveiling of our first solar panel artworks at Mikro Fest in Kaleider’s Studios on Friday the 15th March.


You don’t need to miss out!

Please come along on SATURDAY 16th MARCH – 12-4pm

45 Preston Street, Exeter

Chloe and Naomi will be around all day and look forward to talking about these new pieces with anyone who’ll listen! 

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Art and Energy’s first public display of solar panel artworks at Mikro Fest in Exeter

Art and Energy CIC is an artist-led energy company reimagining solar panel technology as an art material for the future to open doors for imagination and a creative respond to the climate emergency.

You may think you know what a solar panel looks like; rows upon rows of inky rectangles, but these pioneering pieces illuminate the possibilities of a new cultural exchange with our energy infrastructure.

Art and Energy has been working with esteemed partners at The University of Exeter, LaserCutz in Honiton, The Fab Lab in Plymouth and The RSA in London to explore the aesthetic versatility of the solar photo voltaic technology and develop this new craftivist approach to generating green energy.

On display for the first time anywhere ever, Art and Energy are delighted to unveil these new artworks on:

  •  Saturday 16 March from 10am – 4pm
  • at the new Kaleider studios, 45 Preston Street, Exeter 
  • as part of Mikro Fest.

In January 2018, Chloe, Art and Energy’s founder presented the idea for solar panel artworks to Kaleider residents at one of Kaleider’s famous Lunchtime Talks and it was with feedback and guidance from the people in attendance that the idea took root.

It is with sincere gratitude to Exeter City Futures Velocities programme for nurturing the idea in those early days.

Kaleider has been busy renovating a really old three storey building in Exeter in order to fill it full of makers and making. In the process they’ve fallen in love with it, despite the bits that they can’t afford to renovate yet. And they want to mark the moment.

So on 15th and 16th March they’re opening the doors of their new home, Kaleider Studios, and putting on some art in the building and around the city. They’re calling it Mikro Fest.

It will be a modest celebration. There will be several artworks to experience in the city and around the building from our Residents, collaborators and SWCTN Immersion Fellows. They will release programme information and booking details for these nearer the time.

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The unveiling of our first solar panel artworks at Mikro Fest in Exeter

It is with huge excitement and anticipation that Chloe Uden and Naomi Wright invite you to attend the unveiling of our first solar panel artworks.

This private view will take place just before MikroFest at 3:30 – 5:00pm on Friday 15 March at the new Kaleider studios, so you will also have an opportunity to see their new space as well.

If you can’t make it on Friday the space will be open  all day on Saturday 16 March as well, so please drop in.

Although this is a free event, booking is essential as space is limited.

Over the past year we have been pioneering and testing a number of new techniques in designing and constructing artworks that generate power and we would like you to be one of the first people to see them.

We are deeply grateful to the wonderful people who have supported us in our journey to this point and would like to say a special thank you to:

  • Katie Shanks a researcher at the university of Exeter to test and fabricate our work
  • Dave and Jo Neale at LaserCutz in Honiton to find ways to manipulate the shape of cells
  • Ian Hankey a master glass craftsman at The Fab Lab in Plymouth
  • The Velocities team at Exeter City Futures to help us develop our project
  • The RSA’s Catalyst team
  • Jenny Ayrton a glass artist based in Plymouth
  • Patricia Hilto-Robinson a glass artist based in Hampshire
  • Bryn Fogden at GB Sol to develop our ideas
  • Clare Bryden for her help creating our website and ongoing advice
  • Chris Moss from Mav3rick for his ongoing support and advice
  • Joc Spencer-Mills and the rest of the Kaleider team for being relentlessly supportive of our work
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ECOE supports Art and Energy’s programme of workshops

Last night Exeter Community Energy held a community benefit fund allocation event.

We pitched our idea of buying kit so that we can run workshops for people who want to learn how to make their own solar panel artworks. We then took part in a participatory decision making process.

It was really exciting to be involved in such a unique and engaging decision making process, and we are so happy that the group decided to award Art and Energy the funds to do this work

Over the next few weeks we plan to get the kit we need to run the workshops and then to start programming in the workshops for the latter part of 2019.

So, if you think you might like to support, host or attend one of these workshops, please get in touch and/or keep an eye out on our website over the next few weeks.

Here is a link to a page on ECOE’s website where you can find out more about the other applicants and winners