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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 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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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

For the WaveLength Festival in Torbay from the 8-10 November, Art and Energy are collaborating with people across the region to make an illuminating artwork powered by the sun. 

Moths to a Flame will encapsulate the duality of how we harness the elements for electricity and how we are ourselves captivated by light.

We know that moths share our fascination with radiance, and we know that moths are in decline because of the power systems that we are also entrapped by.


We would love to see you at one of the events associated with this project:

Solar panel artwork making demonstrations

  • 1st to 3rd Oct 2019
  • 10am – 2pm drop in 
  • 1st Oct – 4-6pm Torbay Climate Action Group session
  • EyeView shop, Winner Street, Paignton

Come along and see how we make our unique solar panel artworks, and tell us about your experiences of moths in Torbay! These drop in sessions form part of Torbay Climate Action Group’s work exploring energy in Torbay throughout October.


Moth conversations

  • 12-4pm, 9th Oct – Drop in
  • 6-9pm, 9th Oct – Moth viewing
  • 10-2pm, 10th Oct – Drop in
  • Torre Abbey

Come along and share your moth stories and help us design our moth solar panel artwork.

We are hoping to find out about Torbay moths, especially those that live around Torre Abbey and (weather permitting) will be viewing moths on the evening of the 9th.

We are looking forward to meeting moth-ers from the bay, so please do come and share your knowledge with us as we make this piece for the WaveLength Festival.

We are grateful for support from:

  • Ian Hankey at The Fab Lab Plymouth for helping us build the frame
  • LOF Solar for supplying us with colourful solar cells
  • The Solar Range for their help with the electronics in the artwork and
  • GB-Sol for helping us laminate our solar panel artworks
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Colourful solar cells – Our supplier

We often get asked where we get our colourful solar cells! It is so rare to see them in the UK! In fact very few people have ever even seen them.

So we thought we should share with you some information from LOF Solar, the company based in Taiwan who are our suppliers and who make colourful solar cells for us.

If you do get in touch with them, please mention us!

LOF contact details

LOF Solar Corp. 2F, No. 6 Prosperity Road 2, Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan (30078)


You can find them on social media too!

LOF linkedin

LOF facebook

LOF Pinterest

LOF instagram


LOF Solar Corp have been really professional and easy to work with, and as they have been so helpful in supporting our work, we’ve agreed to share information for them about their products and services.

The information below has been supplied by LOF.

LOF Solar Corp. company introduction

Since 2008, Lof Solar has been a world-leading inventor, developer, and manufacturer of high-efficiency color solar cells. Lof Solar is also a tribute to Professor J.J. Loferski, a solar cell pioneer, who was a great teacher and inspiration to Lof’s founder when he studied at Brown University. Each day, Lof is devoted to making the world greener, merrier, and prettier via colorful Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions.

Dr. Joseph John Loferski (1925-1997), a physicist and pioneer in the development of modern solar cells, was born in Hudson, Pennsylvania, USA. In 1953, he received a doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Loferski then went on to serve as an emeritus professor of engineering at Brown University, where his book, Methods of Improving the Efficiency of Photovoltaic Cells, was published in 1972. In the span of his research career, he authored 150 technical papers and 5 books focused on photovoltaic cells. What Dr. Loferski and other early solar cell researchers demonstrated was that semiconductor devices might one day produce commercially competitive, pollution-free electricity.

Our colorful products are supplied to clientele worldwide, including Germany, Italy, the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, India, and more. We export the majority of our products to overseas markets. Additionally, the lifetime of our innovative product easily surpasses 25 years- comparable to the traditional blue solar cell. LOF products have received a number of patents and certifications, including TUV, IEC 61215(design qualification and type approval) and IEC 61730 (safety qualification).

LOF is the winner of the Outstanding Photonics Product Award and the Taiwan Excellence Award. With both innovative material and patented technology, LOF has raised the bar on both aesthetics and function in the solar world.

LOF color solar cells come in a variety of colours. Here is some information from LOF about their products.

LOF Tile Red Color Solar Cell  Classic Series – the ultimate PV solution to preserve a historical tile red roof

For residential roof applications, the option is no longer limited to the cold blue or black panel. Our Latin-inspired fired-clay-like TILE RED solar cell will blend seamlessly into your roof, preserving the original aesthetics of your home and allowing it to remain warm and attractive. LOF Red Tile can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including roof tiles, brick walls, and public art installations. Successful cases: LOF Tile Red Rooftop in Venice; LOF Tile Red Rooftop in Avignon, France.

LOF forest green color solar cell classic series -green energy – literally

Our forest green solar cell can help showcase your effort to make the world a little greener. with its natural coloring, lof’s forest green cell will make your building blend beautifully into the surrounding landscape. example applications include windows, roof, shutters, and balcony railings. successful cases: germany black forest ; green solar shading at utah university


LOF True Steel Colour Solar Cell Classic Series -more than a shade of gray

Our true steel color solar cell suits the needs of the modern minimalist- the color blends seamlessly into stainless steel, concrete, metal, slate, and stone. Power your building with this smooth solar look. Successful case: Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam, Scandinavia BIPV Façade

LOF Lavender Colour Solar Cell   Classic Serie-ultraviolet rays

With its bright and lively hue, we’ve found that LOF Lavender is becoming a favorite for designers and home owners alike. A unique way to apply the LOF Lavender color solar cell is by pairing it with the ancient Chinese concept of Feng-Shui, which conveys the notion that certain colors bring positive energy into a new space. Now, you can bring this positivity into your own space with the help of our lavender solar cell. Successful case: Chungli, Taiwan

LOF Golden Brown Color Solar Cell Classic Series – get “down to earth” with sandy tones

Integrate the sandy tones of LOF’s Golden Brown color solar cell into your building’s envelope to obtain a warm and natural look. This color will coordinate beautifully with wood or slate. Successful cases: American residential solar shingle.

LOF Metallic Gold Colour Solar Cell   Marble Series -red granite – imagine marble in gold

The grains in each piece of the metallic gold solar cell are unique. Varying patterns, textures, and shadings on the cell’s surface make this sustainable material appear as beautiful red granite rather than silicon. Combine the power of solar energy with the elegance of design aesthetics. Successful case:  Austria gold solar house

LOF Emerald Green Colour Solar Cell   Marble Series -solar goes green – literally

A favorite among the marble series, LOF Emerald Green’s design is unique- as you view this product from different angles, the emerald colors change from deep green to golden green, and thus, create a stunning visual spectacular. Varying shades of golden to dark green are intertwined to create a stunning solar panel. Successful cases:  PTT Headquarter Green Global Map ; Emerald City in Seattle

LOF Stone Elegance Color Solar Cell   Marble Series -imagine natural granite- marble in grey

Let this natural granite look make an elegant statement for your building. Whether applied to the façade, skylight, or roof, your building’s exterior will be exquisitely transformed. Successful cases: World’s tallest color BIPV skyscraper-ISP bank HQ; Ex-Michelin area by Renzo Piano.

LOF Disco Pink Color Solar Cell   Marble Series -pretty in pink

LOF Disco Pink is a fun and bold color that is sure to catch the eye of all.  


LOF color BIPV

Color photovoltaics are a frequently applied element in Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). BIPV are photovoltaic modules or systems which can be incorporated into the construction of a building, thus replacing conventional building materials while also providing a source of renewable energy.

LOF color solar cells have proven to be a popular choice among architects. For example, LOF cells have been an important feature in several, notable BIPV projects including Le Albere, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank HQ by Renzo Piano, London Kingsgate House by Horden Cherry Lee, and the Agricultural Sciences Building at Utah State University by HDR. Examples of residential BIPV projects include Black Forest, Germany and Austria Gold Solar House.

LOF’s double-glass BIPV panels are extremely versatile and can be applied to rooftops, façades, skylights, balconies, blinds, shutters, bris-soleil, carports, louvres, and art installations. In addition to generating power, LOF’s panels provide weather protection, heat insulation, and shading from the sun. Upon customer request, all solar modules can be customized. LOF customizations include module shape, color, laminate construction, laminate module size, module voltage, and module transparency.

Now, with the advanced techniques of color BIPV, you can transform your home or building into a space powered by solar- with style.

At LOF, we will work with you/architects and provide professional, technical consulting services and design solutions. Before installation, we will also provide a 3D graph/visual of your building or home with installed color solar cells/panels. During the early stages of the project, we also offer design consultation services. Below are some example solutions for color solar cell application and design.

Art Installation/Landscape

An astounding art installation is worth more than a thousand words. See how art can express the beauty and power of solar energy in a poetic way.

Façade – Color BIPV can be applied to both the façade of buildings and of landscapes. Advantages of this design solution include weather durability, sound insulation, shielding, thermal insulation, and resistance from external impact/forces.

There are several types of photovoltaic (PV) façades including cold, warm, and double-skin. Cold façade consist of a cavity wall structure (see LOF Emerald Green Seattle Airport Tower). Warm façades provide thermal and acoustic insulation (see World’s Tallest Color BIPV Skyscraper- ISP bank HQ). Double-skin façades are composed of the complete existing façade with an extra transparent glass envelope constructed in front of it to help regulate a building’s temperature and provide sound insulation.

Louvre – The photovoltaic (PV) louvre is semi-transparent. Thus, it can provide a source of renewable energy while still allowing you to enjoy the view and sunlight from the outdoors. Movable shading louvres are intricate and can be adjusted vertically or horizontally. The incident sunlight irradiance can be tailored everyday by moving the louvres based on different climate conditions and hours of the day. Thus, PV louvres offer architects a vehicle to play with shadow and light. 

Skylight – Due to their laminated glass design, LOF color BIPV products can be used for overhead installation. BIPV skylight systems can double as an energy saver and an exciting design feature by transforming the way light and shadow are captured in a space.

Rooftop – LOF can provide design solution consulting services according to the material and construction of traditional and modern houses. The use of BIPV in roofing systems can provide a direct replacement for your roof’s shingles/tiles. This BIPV solution not only saves energy but also allows your roof to retain its original coloring.

Balcony Railing – Ever thought that your balcony could become a vehicle to harness solar energy? LOF’s color BIPV can easily be integrated into your balcony’s railing to not only generate electricity, but also serve as elegant decor.

Shutter/Brise-Soleil – The shading elements are a particularly important factor in the design and construction of a building. Shading elements increase access to direct sunlight while also providing architectural benefits, such as passive shading.

Carport – Grid-tie solar systems or residential solar carport systems can produce power via color BIPV. At LOF, we provide a variety of color BIPV solutions to design solar array structural systems. Our professional team is here to assist you with the custom design of your solar carport project. Benefits include heat insulation, energy conservation, and the enhancement of your corporate identity system (CIS). 

Platform – LOF color solar panels can be installed horizontally on the parapet top or as a platform. For example, at the Shanghai World Expo’s China Pavilion, LOF color solar panels were installed 180 degrees on the top of parapet. This idea of replacing the original, aluminum plate with a color PV panel was a brilliant, ground-breaking way to integrate PV into the surrounding landscape.

Power Plant – Ground-mounted solar power plants are not limited to the standard blue or black panel. Colored solar panels are a great alternative to consider, especially as a means to showcase your company’s name or logo. 

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Hidden Spaces – Solar Roots – by Naomi Wright

by Naomi Wright

I’ve just come back from an artists’ residency in Norway at Brekkegarden, a small holding on one of the many islands, tucked into the mountains of the Northwest coast.[1]  This residency with 5 artists was titled ‘Hidden Spaces’, ending in a community celebration on St Olav’s day, the first Christian Patron saint of Norway.

I’ve always been interested in the process of capturing the sun’s energy through photosyntheis. But plants would not make food without roots, roots underground, away from the sun.  This residency allowed me to study the many hidden spaces of roots.

I have memories of loving the cyanotypes below by Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871), the first  ‘photographer’ of plants, algae, ferns and an amazingly curious and artistic botanist.[2]

And like photosynthesis, cyanotypes rely on chemical changes in the sun’s energy[3]. The word cyanotypes come from the Greek words for light and writing.  I’ll be drawing pictures with light – a real art and energy project.

Himanthalia lorea
Laminaria bulbosa

After Anna and many other artists, and not practised it much before, I spent a week experimenting with cyanotypes of roots.  We always seem to concentrate on the art of above ground, why not dig around and get to experience our underground.  How apt to picture the roots using the sun’s energy, with which they very seldom come into contact.

Above ground
Below ground

As I pulled, scraped, dug and washed the roots, I became more interested in them and their meaning in the Norwegian landscape.  A dictionary definition has so many dimensions of belonging, physically, culturally, with kith and kin.[4]

I filled a sketchbook of cyanotypes and thought of Anna working on the algae in a much more scientific way than me.

These roots were a mixture of species on the peaty soil of the wetter areas covered in mosses, rowans, junipers and various blueberries.

A list of things that I spent some time thinking about roots:

  • They fix and secure
  • They belong
  • They are unseen and enclose hidden spaces
  • Roots can be tap, long, shallow, wide, narrow, big and small
  • They can talk to each other through chemical change
  • Roots house fungi and bacteria and other unseen microbes that release essential nutrients
  • They grow beneath the surface, beneath the skin
  • Underground, roots reach out and feel their way,
  • They feel their friends, look after them
  • Root plants survive, rooted, humans survive
  • Rooted in culture, or life, plants and humans survive together.

I tested the process on Valeria growing across the lower lands.

I painted pieces of calico.  I wanted to make a banner of roots, across the base of the building.  Placing them as roots, both cultural and physically expressive.

I still have some of the cyanotype chemicals and as Art and Energy we would like to make some more cyanotypes in helping us tell stories and celebrate the energy creating them.

[1] Brekkegarden was set up by Nina Boe as a NaKurHel affiliate place, a movement that supports and promotes the links between Nature, Culture and Health.  She works with artists, local school children, elderly dementia sufferers and drama students in her home and on the land for the benefit that it gives.

[2] Herbook was called  Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions(1843). 

[3] Ammonium citrate and potassium ferry cyanide are mixed together.   Where the sun reaches this chemical mixture on fabric or paper it will turn dark blue after being washed in water.  Where the sun is blocked off, the chemicals do not fix, and so a negative is revealed.  The process was originally used to reproduce architectural drawings also known as blue prints.   Cyanotypes were invented in 1842 as a cameraless photography.


  1. The usually underground portion of a plant that lacks buds, leaves, or nodes and serves as support, draws minerals and water from the surrounding soil, and sometimes stores food.
  2. Any of various other underground plant parts, especially an underground stem such as a rhizome, corm, or tuber.
  3. The embedded part of an organ or structure such as a hair, tooth, or nerve, that serves as a base or support.
  4. The bottom or supporting part of something: We snipped the wires at the roots.
  5. The essential part or element; the basic  core: I finally got to the root of the problem.
  6. A primary source; an origin.
  7. A progenitor or ancestor from which a person or family is descended.
  8. often roots – The condition of being settled and of belonging to a particular place or society: Our roots in this town go back a long way.
  9. roots – The state of having or establishing an indigenous relationship with or a personal affinity for a particular culture, society, or environment: music with unmistakable African roots.
  10. The element that carries the main component of meaning in a word and provides the basis from which a word is derived by adding affixes or inflectional endings or by phonetic change.
  11. Such an element reconstructed for a protolanguage. Also called radical.
  12. Mathematics – A number that when multiplied by itself an indicated number of times forms a product equal to a specified number. For example, a fourth root of 4 is √2. Also called nth root.
  13. A number that reduces a polynomial equation in one variable to an identity when it is substituted for the variable.
  14. A number at which a polynomial has the value zero.
  15. Music- The note from which a chord is built.
  16. Such a note occurring as the lowest note of a triad or other chord.
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Exhibition of Art and Energy works at The ESI in Penryn

Chloe and Naomi have been collaborating with post-doc researcher Katie Shanks over the past year to challenge the aesthetics of silicon solar PV in order to re-imagine solar panels as places for artworks of the future.

Using the solar labs at the ESI, we’ve been able to build and test some of the first solar panel artworks of their kind, and in this talk, we will share some of the process and learning from our creative exchange, as well as our plans for future collaboration.

An exhibition of the works developed together will be on display at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter in Penryn from September 5th until October 11th.

Please visit the exhibition during the ESI’s opening hours, and if you’d like to meet Chloe, Naomi and Katie, then please book a place at this talk at 4-5pm on Friday 27th September.

During the talk, we will share some of our learning, give you a demonstration of the construction techniques and have some light refreshments! 

Places are limited, so please ensure you book early.

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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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Engineers without borders at UoE in Penryn make solar panels!

10 students from Engineers without Borders at the University of Exeter in Penryn made 6 solar panels in a lovely workshop at the weekend.

Our workshop was Art and Energy’s take on Demand Energy Equality’s solar charger making workshop which is available through their website.

The workshop was made possible by Exeter Community Energy.

The step by step walk-though of how to make a solar panel was great!  Participant

“Very patient and enthusiastic” Participant

Absolutely outstanding workshop in every way!….I learnt loads!…And proof that you can teach and old dog new tricks! Adam, Lecturer at UoE