Categories Environment

Trailblazing artist channels creative talents to raise awareness of climate change

An acclaimed black artist is harnessing her lifelong passion for art to address some of the biggest challenges – and possible solutions – facing humanity and the environment, as the countdown to COP26 continues.

In less than four months, more than 190 global leaders will gather in the UK city of Glasgow for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, to accelerate action towards ambitious targets aimed at cutting carbon emissions and safeguarding the world’s future.

Leading experts from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute for the Environment will be contributing to the discussions and a high-profile campaign has been launched in the city this month to bring the important issues at stake to a wider audience.

The campaign designs are the brainchild of Emma Blake Morsi, aged 24, who has created a series of evocative billboards and posters, currently emblazoned across Bristol, to highlight how innovative, pioneering research holds the key to unlocking such pressing problems, including access to water, sanitation, and sustainable food sources.

Emma, of British-Nigerian heritage, who was raised in the city, said:

“Leading this campaign fulfils a big ambition because I’m passionate about finding creative solutions to the world’s social and sustainable challenges. COP26 may not be on everyone’s radar, so this is an important and exciting way to make the hot topics under discussion more accessible and relatable.”

The keynote design vibrantly illustrates the interdependent fragility of ecosystems, which are vital for plants, water, and food, while emphasising that access to water and sanitation is a human right. Another captures the ravages of climate change, depicting a scene of desolate drylands juxtaposed against lush greenery – a harsh reality which imperils 2 billion people.

Emma said: 

“I really immersed myself in the research so I could fully understand it and make the artwork both appealing and meaningful. The response so far has been fantastic and I’m proud of the result,”

“The biggest reward is that the designs might spark ideas and conversations with people walking past on the street or waiting for the bus who have never thought about or maybe weren’t even aware of the issues before. I truly believe creative art can help champion environmental progress and that discussions about climate change, and possible solutions, must be inclusive, starting at a grass-roots level. There’s no better place than out on the street to do that.”

Professor Guy Howard, Interim Director of the Cabot Institute for the Environment and Global Research Chair of Environmental and Infrastructure Resilience at the University of Bristol, said: 

“Thank you Emma for creating such a wonderfully vibrant and engaging series of designs, which really bring to life the huge global challenges we’re facing and how research happening right here in Bristol plays a crucial role in tackling them.”

Jess Bunyan, Development Manager at Rising Arts Agency, a partner in the campaign, said:

“It was great to work with the Cabot Institute and think about how this very important research could be communicated en masse on the streets of Bristol creatively through the art created by Emma. Young people are at the forefront of climate activism so it’s really exciting to combine that with climate research.”

Prints of the designs are being produced to raise funds for intersectional environmental charities.