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Dan Arnold imagines a butterfly car port

Hiya Dan!

Welcome to the Art and Energy team, can you tell us about you and your work?

Hello! Thank you very much, what an amazing thing to be part of!

I’m an artist and collaborator currently based in Penryn, Cornwall. My practice and research has taken me all over the world and I continue to seek inspiration from the natural processes that surround us and the collaborations that occur within the interconnected web.

My practice lies at the ever changing membrane between art and science and the processes that we find ourselves part of.

I make large scale sculptures and installations, films, animations and murals increasingly through a process of collaboration.

I’ve worked with NGOs, charities, Arts Council England, Glastonbury, schools, universities, planetariums and museums around the world. 

So, you’ve spent the last week with us speaking to people in Exeter about Art and Energy and developing ideas for projects that people in Exeter are interested in.

You were focusing on developing an idea for a solar carport. Can you tell us about it?

Sweet, yeah!

It’s been great talking to people in Exeter over that week. It’s super important that any project involves the local community otherwise there’s a high risk of alienating people or producing something that has no relevance to them.


That’s not what art is for, its another language and potentially powerful tool for change, that should be used to communicate and bring ideas together rather than sit on an overly intellectualised pedestal and only let the elite in.

Yeah, so solar car ports. Rad.

For me it’s important that large pieces of artwork also have a functionality about them – that they’re layered rather than just pretty (or ugly).


We’ve talked about the cabbage white butterfly and its super rad wings.

This led to the idea of using the butterfly’s chrysalis as a starting point for a from for the carport.

A chrysalis is a transitional object by nature and I like that; designing a functioning sculpture that converts energy and provides a space for ideas to grow (as well as other species).


A carport also needs to function when it is not charging a car, it’s a waste of resources for anything not to be used as much as possible.

It could also provide a meeting point for people, somewhere to interact and also charge phones etc, a space for ideas.

Part of the roof and the underside of the structure could also provide habitats for a struggling insect population and parts of the roof could be living.

The whole space an ecosystem and habitat for several species including ourselves as well as functioning as a source of power for the objects we use.