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Solar Stars : unveiled!

In August we wrote about an exciting project we were working on in partnership with Knowle West Media Centre and the wider Filwood community…. well we’re thrilled to announce that the resulting solar stars are now installed at Filwood Community Centre!

They were revealed at a fantastic Walk of Hearts and Stars event, complete with socially-distanced lantern parade and brass band!

 

We ran a workshop  through Zoom, where members of the community painted their own designs onto perspex stars. We then added solar cells and LEDs to create solar-powered illuminated artworks. During the day the solar cells charge a battery. At night they twinkle with colour changing LEDs.

The names at the centre of each star are community members who were nominated for going above and beyond during the Covid lockdown this summer.

 

We were particularly impressed by the variety, vibrancy and love that had clearly been put into each of the 28 painted star designs. Lush!

 

This year has been very tricky in terms of running creative workshops, so we would like to say a huge thank you to Fiona and her team at The Factory at Knowle West Media Centre who gave us this chance to further develop our socially distanced offering. 

If you are interested in running a similar project then do get in touch. Alternatively check-out the ‘Make your mark’ and ‘solar art workshop’ rewards in our crowdfunder www.crowdfunder.co.uk/moths-to-a-flame-pec

Testimonial

‘Collaborating with Art & Energy has been fantastic, resulting in a really engaging and informative online workshop session with accompanying workshop packs that were very well received by the participants, and the finished decorated Stars with their solar-powered lights look AMAZING! They have been so flexible and easy to work with throughout the whole process, and really got on board with the community co-design element that was so integral to the project.’ (Fiona @ KWMC)

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Community workshops : Solar Stars!

Over the last couple of months we’ve been developing a rather special project with Fiona from The Factory at Knowle West Media Centre. Their Walk of Hearts and Stars project will remember local people lost during the Covid -19 lockdown (hearts), and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond to help the Filwood community during these difficult times (stars).

We’re very excited to be working on the stars… and have come up with a plan for 28 solar-powered colour-changing illuminated artworks, which will be decorated by Filwood residents through a socially-distanced online workshop!

We’ve put together creative packs including a perspex star, vinyl stickers, paints, inspiration sheet and instructions. Local residents signed up through eventbrite to join us at a zoom workshop event (recorded so that it could be shared with those unable to join us on the day).

Each participant will reverse-paint their design onto their perspex star, which will be collected and returned to us. We will remove the vinyl stickers to create windows in the paintings, add solar cells and electrical components. The team at The Factory have designed beautiful wooden laser-cut star frames… it’s all a wonderful heart-warming team effort!

The design is based on Jenny’s ‘Lockdown Location’ artwork, though in this case we’ll be jazzing things up with colour-changing LEDS… adding a magical twinkle to highlight the special stars who have been nominated for their amazing actions!

The stars will be exhibited in Filwood as part of a community event in the Autumn.

If your interested in running a solar artwork project then do get in touch: email jenny@artandenergy.org. We’re happy to adapt our existing workshops to suit your situation… we certainly never imagined that we would be running workshops by Zoom, but our Cooperative project proves that it can be great fun!

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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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Lockdown Location

We’ve all been stuck at home during quaratine, and through this time, Jenny’s been experimenting with disused garden solar lights that have been donated to us as part of a recent project to make a door sign for Plymouth Scrapstore.

Here is her latest piece Lockdown Location. We’re planning to run workshops when we can all get back together teaching people how to make these fabulous and unusual solar artworks.

Thank you in particular to Kaleider for all their support throughout this tricky period. 

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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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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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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 energyteam@plymouthenergycommunity.com

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