Here at the Living Planet Centre we have enjoyed getting creative with The Big Draw and the theme ‘Every picture tells a story’. We wanted to create an inspirational and powerful reminder about the importance of caring for our amazing planet – focusing on the coldest places on Earth – the polar regions which are affected by human activities and climate change. What better way to show the importance of this fragile part of our planet than creating an art installation which Woking primary schools and our local community could contribute to as part of the world’s biggest drawing festival The Big Draw.
Our picture tells the chilly story of a landscape where temperatures fall far below freezing; where bitterly cold winds whip across the landscape and where over millions of years, species have evolved to cope with these extreme conditions. There are about 20 million breeding pairs of penguins in the Antarctic and the world’s largest living land carnivore, the polar bear, makes its home in the Arctic.
For the launch of our ‘Big Draw’ workshops we were excited to be joined by artist Stephanie Wilkinson and pupils from St Dunstan’s and Goldsworth Primary schools. Stunning imagery of the landscape and animals were used to introduce the awe inspiring polar regions and wildlife, followed by a look at some of the issues facing these regions – exploring why they are under threat and suffering the effects of climate change. It can be difficult explaining climate change to young children so we have developed a new animation film which does just that in a simple, fun and engaging way.
The film is based on the book ‘How the Weather Works’ by Christiane Dorion and produced in collaboration with Templar Publishing. It explains the causes of climate change and the impact on penguins, polar bears and the whole planet. We want children to feel empowered to bring about change, so very importantly it also looks at positive actions we can take to reduce our own carbon footprint. As award winning author Christiane says: “While climate change requires major changes in the way we design and make all our stuff and produce energy, personal actions are a great place to start!”
Once the group had been introduced to spectacular wildlife – including the polar bear – and discovered some of the major issues threatening their habitats, it was over to artist Stephanie Wilkinson to get everyone excited about drawing. Stephanie talked about what inspired her as an artist and showed pupils her wonderful pattern paintings using bright and vibrant colours inspired by women, interiors and beautiful places.
Pupils then became artists on an expedition, journeying to the frozen poles, discovering and drawing the amazing animals, land formations and seascapes they find along the way. Using coloured pens to create both simple and elaborate patterns, cellulose acetate and natural light, they created a colourful art installation in our Learning Zone.
The photographs of our workshop show just how engaged the young artists were in creating their animals, and their talent in the use of colour, pattern and design. It was with pride they placed their artwork on our giant frieze which will stay in the Learning Zone for future visitors to enjoy.
Over half term we were joined by the local community with young families learning about the environment and taking part in the world’s largest drawing festival. They created pattern painted, recycled water bottle penguins and Arctic terns, leaping out to make our art installation 3D!
How you can get involved
Species like penguins and polar bears, and the threats they face, make the polar regions a rich and inspiring learning topic. If you have primary aged children or you are a teacher; why not encourage your school to sign up to our FREE ‘Penguins and polar bear workshop at the Living Planet Centre in Woking. The workshop launches in January 2016 and we’ll bring learning to life through some exciting activities.
Motivating and equipping young people to look after our world is vital if we want a sustainable future where people and nature thrive. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face. So we’d like to welcome as many children as possible to our ‘Penguins and polar bears’ workshops – do spread the word!
There are plenty of other ways in which you can get involved in our work and help to tackle climate change – including some fantastic activities we’re helping to deliver as part of the Climate Coalition.