Climate change: creative conversations in Wales

Two children running through a grass field with the sea behind.

How do our local communities feel about the changing climate? In partnership with Arts Council of Wales, we’ve commissioned artists Lauren Heckler and Alex Paveley to explore this question.

The first chapter: Y Tir Tu Fewn, The Land Within

The project began in November 2021 in Carmarthenshire when pupils from Llansteffan Primary School were invited to explore the coastal landscape of Lord’s Park, a historic site which had until recently been run as a dairy farm. 

Lauren and Alex explored the role that play can have in promoting a sense of ownership and care for a place and its future, particularly within the context of climate change and biodiversity loss. 

Repeat visits allowed the children to immerse themselves in the site - with den making, walking, mapping, storytelling, collecting, drawing, writing, and costume making allowing the children to discover what about the place matters to them. The wider context of climate change was introduced through classroom-based activities, including a video call conversation with our experts about soil and trees.

Den building was just one of the activities at the site
A girl building a den in field at Lord's Park Farm, Carmarthenshire
Den building was just one of the activities at the site

Building on their play, learning, and discoveries, the children created ‘more than human’ characters who they thought would belong to the ecosystem of Lord’s Park: a tree spirit, pair of foxes, rainbow light, birds in flight, magpie thief, defender, spider, bush creature and Martians looking for a new home. Promoting play as an outcome in and of itself, the project was captured through photography and film to document the process.

The children’s drawings, mind maps and collected artefacts were exhibited alongside this documentation at an open day held at the farm in January 2022, where family, friends and neighbours could share in their experiences.

The project also helped us to establish a longstanding relationship with the school and Lord’s Park Farm, and we’re delighted to be working with the pupils again as they return to plant trees on the site this spring.

The second chapter

In January 2022, Lauren and Alex invited communities in Cwm Penmachno, Llanrwst and Conwy to work on the co-creation of a new moving image work, with the production travelling down the course of the River Conwy. 

Residents from each location focused on different elements of the work, with Lauren and Alex interested in the role that collective creative action can have in facilitating meaningful conversations around climate change, within and across communities.

Residents of Cwm Penmachno captured footage for the artwork, in response to a series of conversations around the effects of climate change on the village, the resilience of the community, and the broader context of the climate emergency. Participants took home cameras to frame and record imagery that visualised their personal thoughts and feelings on the issue. Walking as a group, footage was also collectively captured as they meandered towards the source of the River Machno. 

Residents of Cwm Penmachno captured footage in their community.
Two people lying on a bank and filming the trees around them.
Residents of Cwm Penmachno captured footage in their community.

Downstream in Llanrwst, a town prone to flooding, public foley workshops were held to work on the soundscape and atmosphere of the film. Participants used an arsenal of everyday objects to recreate, perform and record environmental sounds - from the swishing clothes and squelching footsteps, to rustling trees and crashing waterfalls. 

Everyday objects were used to make the soundscape to the film.
A lady recreating natural sounds with a branch and fabric
Everyday objects were used to make the soundscape to the film.

At the river mouth in Conwy, the artists worked together with Cartrefi Conwy trainees, and members of the Centre of Alternative Technology’s Sustainable Architecture course, to build screening furniture for the film’s premier on Conwy Suspension Bridge. 

Across the production process, interviews led by members of the Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales - twelve young people from across Wales who are passionate climate activists fighting for climate justice – were carried out. 

The final film combines workshop outcomes, community interviews and a record of the process, as it weaves together the landscapes, expressions and opinions of communities linked together by weather and water. 

As part of the screening event, other artist and community short films that explore issues around climate change will be shown: Emerging from Winter, a collaboration between Future Generations Comissioner’s Poet in Residence Taylour Edmonds, members of the Llanrwst Flood Action Group and pupils from Ysgol Bro Gwidyr; Yr Afanc Rap, a comission by National Trust Cymru with rapper Mr Phormula working with Cowny based children and families; and Hagira, a film by Crone Cast, a collective of artists identifying as older women based in North Wales. 

The event can also be viewed online here: 

The artists

Lauren Heckler and Alex Paveley are interested in encounters between the day-to-day and the processes of play, co-creation and experimentation, where new ways of looking and sensing become possible.

They have made public artworks and run community events across housing developments, community centres, meanwhile use sites, gardens, parks, bridges, indoor markets and shopping centres.  Both are graduates of University of Brighton, and are currently based in Abergavenny.

Artists Lauren Heckler and Alex Paveley
Photos of artists Lauren Heckler and Alex Paveley in black and white.
Artists Lauren Heckler and Alex Paveley

This project has been developed through our partnership with Arts Council of Wales and is funded with their generous support.

Timeline

2021

Artists’ site visits

Lauren and Alex began the project by visiting several locations across Wales. The teams at each of the sites they visited were all undertaking work to tackle climate change and looking to find ways to connect with communities.

A black and white close up of a fern and other foliage

2021

Artists select sites and define project

Lord’s Park Farm in South Wales, and the Conwy Catchment in North Wales were selected for the project. Both areas are undergoing a period of transition and so presented an opportunity to spark discussion about the future, especially within the context of climate change.

Barns and farm buildings at Lord's Park Farm, Carmarthenshire

2021

Artists’ workshops in school and at Lords Park Farm

Through repeat visits to Lord’s Park Farm, Key Stage Two pupils from Llansteffan Primary School developed an understanding of the site through play, which nurtured a sense of ownership and care for the place and its future.

Children in a farmyard creating and crowded round an artwork