Back in 2021, Creative Estuary was excited to commission Our Towns: Climate, a large-scale mural in Basildon aimed to inspire and encourage conversations around climate.
Sustainability is always high on the agenda for Creative Estuary and so we were delighted to commission a project that linked climate and culture to bring about actual change – the mural was created using carbon-absorbing paint, an innovative and measurable way to start striking back against climate change.
The legacy of the concept will revolve around the development of Basildon town’s first Voluntary Local Review in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the second to have been completed in the UK following Bristol in 2018.
In this blog, Lauren Martin, Co-Founder of Things Made Public CIC tells us more about the project.
The effect of the current climate crisis is far and wide-reaching, whilst the information available is vast. People are undoubtedly aware of the problem, but not entirely sure what they can do to make a change. It is this very reason why projects such as Our Towns: Climate are vital; they take what can be viewed as an overwhelming, global issue and explore the subject through a local lens. Conversations start because, all of a sudden, the issue is brought closer to home, but also because, and let’s be frank, it’s very difficult to ignore a huge, bright, beautifully executed mural in the heart of the town centre.
Our Towns is a street art project that forms part of BasildON Creative People & Places, a programme funded by Arts Council England that aims to get more people in Basildon taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in brilliant art experiences within the borough. Each mural installed was co-designed by the community, resulting in a large-scale outdoor gallery for all to enjoy.
The opportunity to co-commission and develop Our Towns: Climate with the Creative Estuary has added a further layer to the project, resulting in a gargantuan mural created by internationally acclaimed artist INSA, as well as legacy work that will serve Basildon and its residents for years to come, through the development of Basildon’s first Voluntary Local Review (VLR).
The mural which depicts the native, near-threatened green-winged orchid has already engaged residents across the borough. Local people have been actively debating the subject matter on social media platforms, others have discussed their green ambitions whilst participating in a street art tour, whilst some have downloaded the accompanying, free ‘GIF-ITI’’ app, watched the animation depicting the life cycle of the orchid and have been more impressed with the digital innovation of the project than the climate messaging. And that’s okay. The important thing is that the cogs are starting to turn and the entry points to these hard-hitting conversations are slowly creaking open.
We know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Work has already started on the development of the Voluntary Local Review (VLR) which will be executed in partnership with the University of Essex and is set to assess Basildon in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As this work takes shape and grows, the conversations surrounding climate in Basildon will broaden, in turn empowering local people to create change for themselves and future generations.
About the Author
Lauren began her career in Fashion Marketing, spending 8 years designing, planning and implementing global campaigns for a range of well known brands, representing designers across the UK, India, Italy and the US. With a particular penchant for developing and directing events, Lauren was invited to deliver high profile interventions in venues across the globe, including Somerset House (London), Pragati Maidan (New Delhi) and Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (Rome).
With a diverse skill set in place, Lauren departed the heady world of fashion with a desire to work alongside the community and break down barriers to Culture, joining forces with Sarah Walters to co-found Things Made Public CIC.
Hailing from a working class background and having grown up in an area with limited access to creative opportunities, Lauren has first hand experience of the barriers that exist when it comes to cultural participation and engagement. She is passionate about exploring methods in which creativity can be utilised to up-skill communities and develop local cultural and economic opportunity.