Big Draw: Draw a Green Future

This is our fourth and final set of weekly drawing challenges for October’s Big Draw, which this year is the Big Green Draw #ClimateOfChange

See what else we’re doing for the Big Green Draw here

A Green Future?

At Climate Museum UK, we explore the role that a distributed museum like ours can play in supporting people to share their hopes and fears for the future, and come together to take positive action.

Earlier this the month we looked at drawing as a way of exploring and sharing our emotions. How can drawing also enable us to use our innate creative capacities to imagine a better future?

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

This Albert Einstein quote is a well used one, but a useful reminder that sitting down and drawing out what we aleady know, in ways that we are used to, isn’t going to get us the results that we are looking for. Instead, drawing can be used as a way to draw together new thoughts and ideas from our past and present experiences, which can then inform our behaviour in the future.

Here are some examples to help show what we mean, and give you inspiration for your own artwork.

Drawing to Record and Reflect

In this short video artist James Aldridge shares how he uses a combination of media to record his experiences of places.

Writing, drawing, rubbings and found materials come together to document his sensory experiences of a place, his emotional response to it, and the place’s own voices.

By being open to what emerges from the process, fixed ideas of what should be drawn/recorded give way to a more collaborative process, working with natural systems rather than imposing ideas upon them.

See more about this in our earlier post Big Draw: We Are Nature

Mapping the Future

Group drawings can be another way to combine a range of viewpoints and experiences within a single drawing.

The following image is taken from the Asking Andover project at Andover Museum, and marks the end of a project where local people had been sharing their memories of living in the town.

Mapping the Future at Andover Museum

In this particular session James asked the group to create a large-scale map of the town that they wanted for the future. Individuals from the local community, including environmental groups and representatives of the local authority, drew, built and shared their hopes for the future of their town.

You could make a collaborative drawing as a conversation between two people, in small groups of students, or as a family. You could start the process with an agreed question about the future and your role within it, and you might want to agree some simple ground rules first, to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with adding to or changing each others work.

Comprehensivism – Learning from Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller described himself as a ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’ – ‘an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.’

R. Buckminster Fuller holds up a Tensegrity sphere. 18th April, 1979

In other words he worked across subject areas, disciplines and ways of knowing the world, in an attempt to solve global problems.

In your drawing, give yourself permission to combine media and subject matter, to be playful and experimental. By combining diferent media and techniques we make new connections and we learn to see the world differently.

Everybody can draw, and everybody draws differently, try not to compare yourself with others. If we are to use drawing to help develop that ‘Green Future’, then we need to give ourselves permission to explore our creativity without judgement, within the context of our own local environment.

Don’t Waste

“Just treat the natural world as if it’s precious, which it is!”

Sir David Attenborough has urged us ‘Don’t Waste’ – don’t waste materials, energy or food. Can you make an artwork that sums this up? How can the artwork itself be an example of not wasting? Could it be tiny, or precious, or using recycled materials? 

Take a look around your home and garden, experiment with making marks onto junk mail, old envelopes or food packaging, create simple drawing tools with sticks, leaves or kitchen cutlery.

Drawing tools made by children as part of the Ash Tree Stream project

When using everyday materials such as recycled resources from the home, or found materials from a park or garden, you bring the voices of the ‘real world’ into a creative conversation. Rather than making a drawing of your garden or your local river, why not make a drawing with it?

Underwater Shark Drawing by Olly and Suzi

‘Our art-making process is concerned with our collaborative, mutual response to nature at its most primitive and wild. Through live and direct interaction we aim to document the passing of animals, habitats and tribes that are here now but might not be for much longer. We make all our work in response to the natural world from first-hand experience, from “ground-truth”. In this way the bush has become our studio.’

Olly and Suzi

Draw a happy place in your mind 

Sometimes we draw to find out what is in our heads. This challenge is to dive into your mind, to find what’s in there, before drawing. Maybe you can take turns, so that one person reads out these prompts while others close your eyes and imagine. The prompts:

Imagine emptiness, like a massive sky of white paper. 

Relax and watch what images appear and catch the ones you like 

Use them to create an image in your mind of a happy place 

Start to build it up. What’s the ground like? Is it indoors or outdoors, or both? What’s the sky like? What colours can you see?

If there are people what are they doing? If your happy place is you alone that’s OK. 

Keep filling the scene with what makes you feel calm, loved, and sorted. 

Nothing has to be fixed, you can change it all, as it’s all in your mind.

Now, open your eyes and do some super quick sketches to record the best bits of what you saw. 

Then you can repeat the exercise. Close your eyes. Here are the prompts for someone to read:

Remember that we live within the limits of the planet and the needs of other people too. There isn’t enough to go round if some people take everything. And the more we take from the seas and the soil, and the more we pollute and disturb it, the less there is for the people and other beings who most need it. 

What do you see now? What can make a happy place for more people and beings?

If you see some impossible things, catch and keep them. We need impossible ideas.

Once you’ve opened your eyes, draw what you saw. You can use this to create a bigger, more finished drawing, using as much colour and fantasy as you like.

Long time thinking

One way to help dream a good future is to stretch your thinking of time, to think more long-term. The Long Time Project is an inspirational resource to help you think about this, and how art and culture can help.

Image from Long Time Project – year rings of an ancient tree

It can take 1000 years to grow a mature, healthy, biodiverse forest. What if when we designed a place, we planned ahead for 1000 years?

Can you be a long-time place-maker? Choose a place. It might be your local park, or street, or town centre. Imagine it in a thousand years. Has wild nature taken over? Are people living in harmony with wild nature? Are people living alongside another dominant animal? Draw what you imagine.

Take a look at the work of James McKay to see how it helps to draw the future of a place you know well. He focuses on Leeds in his drawings, and works with schools to help children draw green futures.

Going Further

Find out more about our idea of being Possitopian. This is a way of thinking about the future that opens the imagination and allows you to think of many possible, or even impossible, futures.

See this project Little Inventors, a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously.

See this collection of climate art that is about speculative futures.

About #MyClimateMuseum

We don’t think there should be one Climate Museum – ours – but thousands in homes, schools or libraries everywhere. We can learn a huge amount about the Earth’s troubles and how to solve them, if we explore human-made or natural objects and if we make art to express feelings and solutions. Our big challenge this month is that you create your own Climate Museum of all the art you make and objects you collect. Take photos of them in a display, and share photos with #MyClimateMuseum 

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