Our Towns: Climate Press Release
Our Towns is an innovative street art initiative that is set to bring a number of large-scale murals to the streets of Basildon town centre through Summer 2021.
A ReFRAMED concept developed in partnership with BasildON Creative People and Places; Our Towns partners world class artists with local organisations to create murals inspired by Basildon that reflect on global issues through a local lens.
As part of the Creative Estuary’s initiative to showcase the 60 miles of the North Kent and South Essex region as one of the UK’s most dynamic and creative areas in the whole of the UK, Our Towns has partnered with Creative Estuary, to create a truly innovative, co-commissioned artwork, entitled Our Towns: Climate.
Our Towns: Climate aims to inspire and encourage conversations around climate, with a monumental art installation influenced by the local ecology and chosen by residents.
To enable these discussions during COVID restrictions, an online forum and voting system was launched, asking local residents to choose whether the mural should focus on ‘people and our behaviours’ or the ‘planet and our impact.’ The poll received over 400 votes, with the ‘planet and our impact’ proving most popular.
Realised through the vision of internationally acclaimed artist INSA, recognised for his technical complexity and innovation in street art, the new artwork focuses on Basildon’s ecology, shining a light on the near-threatened green-winged orchid frequently found in Basildon, transitioning in a cycle of life and death. Another important facet of INSA’s practice is the ‘GIF-ITI’, a term the artist coined when he began to create the first ever GIF animations of graffiti work; bringing a further level of innovation to the Our Towns: Climate mural.
The mural, which has been created using Graphenstone paints which are free of toxic components but also help in the reduction of air pollution, is situated on the disused M&S building in the centre of Basildon.
Meanwhile the legacy of the concept will revolve around a series of workshops for local youth entitled Our Towns Climate, as well as the development of Basildon town’s first Voluntary Local Review in advance of COP26, the second to have been completed in the UK, following Bristol in 2018.
A Voluntary Local Review is a means to assess and report on a city or town, through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a method for monitoring progress on social, economic and environmental factors through qualitative and quantitative data and will be executed in partnership with the University of Essex
Kelum Jayasinghe, Director, Centre for Environment and Society (CES) at University of Essex says:“The University of Essex has declared a climate and ecological emergency and is calling on its 20,000-strong community to help find solutions. The University’ is committed to find ways to go “further, faster” in cutting emissions, reducing its environmental impact and supporting biodiversity. These actions signal a step change in the University’s approach to sustainable development. In these efforts, CES brings together world-leading, impact-focused research on all aspects of sustainability science being undertaken at Essex University. CES also acts as an incubator of community enterprises, a knowledge hub for green business and policy-makers communities local to Essex and around the world, local and international businesses, partner academic organisations and as consultant to local sustainability initiatives”.
“As lead organisation for the BasildON Creative People & Places Programme, we are incredibly excited to be part of the Our Towns: Climate project. It’s been wonderful working with residents and harnessing the power of culture to bring more attention to environmental issues on a local level.” Lauren Martin, Co-Founder, Things Made Public CIC
Sarah Dance, Creative Estuary Chair says: “As we grow the Thames Estuary’s potential as a cultural and creative hub, we are committed to supporting our local partners and engaging our communities to contribute to their creative identity. In everything we do for the Estuary, we want to capture imagination and provide opportunities for discussion and maybe even change, Our Towns: Climate is a fantastic project that meets all those objectives.”
Leader of Basildon Council Councillor Andrew Baggott said: “It’s an honour to have a renowned artist feature his work in our town centre and for the piece to be inspired by our own residents and natural environment. We are committed to improving our town centre and art and culture has a big part to play in its future. We are also committed to climate change and are working towards a carbon net-zero borough by 2050.”
“We are dedicated to developing new and innovative strategies to reposition the role of culture in social and environmental conversations. The Our Towns: Climate project will be our most ambitious to date, the legacy for which will see Basildon join the growing number of cities and towns across the world adopting the Global Goals.”
Charlotte Pyatt and Doug Gillen, Founders, Re:FRAMED Productions
Notes for Editors
About BasildON Creative People & Places
BasildON Creative People and Places was formed in 2019, following an award of £1,289,002 from Arts Council England. It was the first time this grant has been awarded to a borough within Essex and was an exciting win for the both residents and businesses within the town.
The Creative People and Places initiative has been specifically developed by Arts Council England for areas where evidence shows that there is low engagement with cultural activity and aims to put the local community at the heart of driving and delivering an array of diverse and engaging projects over a 4 year period.
In order to apply for this funding, 25local businesses and community groups joined forces to create the BasildON Consortium; working together to develop a programme that will change the cultural landscape of Basildon forever.
Led by Things Made Public CIC, The BasildON Creative People and Places programme is designed to empower the whole community – businesses and residents alike – to create a cultural democracy, developing a wide-range of activities and projects that give everyone the opportunity to be involved in shaping Basildon’s cultural and creative future.
About Creative Estuary
Creative Estuary has a vision to forge a new future founded on creative energy and innovation, along the length of the Thames Estuary. Our ambition is clear: To transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across South Essex and North Kent into one of the most exciting creative clusters in the world. We’re going to do this by developing the places where the creative industries can build a vibrant and prosperous future, enriching communities and strengthening the region. The creative and cultural industries contribute more than £100bn per year to the UK economy, helping to attract investment, catalyse innovation, and enhance distinctive places and communities. The £6.5m Creative Estuary programme will transform the visibility, identity and future of the region’s creative production infrastructure, supporting more than 400 new jobs, delivering new skills, qualifications, and apprenticeships across an area of 1.5million people, providing skills and training for more than 500 people. By using culture as the catalyst for growth, the Thames Estuary will provide much-needed space for expanding creative businesses and provide the scale of services, skills and infrastructure sought by both UK organisations and international creative producers. The success of Creative Estuary will contribute to wider national programmes to generate investment, jobs and creative industry opportunities for the whole Thames Estuary, making it one of the most attractive places to live and work in the UK. Creative Estuary is supported by The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and led by a consortium of public sector and cultural organisations. The project is led by the University of Kent on behalf of a consortium of public sector and cultural organisations. They include the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, the Greater London Authority, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), University of Essex, Locate in Kent and cultural organisations Metal and Cement Fields.
Creative Estuary Co-commissions will support a wide range of cultural projects with new commissions for Estuary-based producers and artists, from activity for emerging cultural activists to large scale commissions with a diverse mix of partners. The Co-commissions will raise widespread awareness of existing creative talent across the region and support creative practitioners and organisations to make and present new work. We are committed to engaging our local communities to contribute to their creative identity and will give artists, organisations and creative practitioners opportunities and support to help them realise their creative ambitions. The Co-commissions will create opportunities for creative innovation and new cultural production – we want to capture imagination and provide opportunities for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing.
About Re:FRAMED Productions
Re:FRAMED are a creative partnership between Charlotte Pyatt and Doug Gillen. Combining their experience of 20 years in production, strategy, consultancy and documentation of art on the streets, they work to align community initiatives with international artists and organisations.
With social and environmental awareness as a focus, they champion the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a filter for project coordination. Uniting with a global network of multidisciplinary thinkers to explore the importance of intersectionality in furthering the climate debate for their respective films, articles, cultural initiatives and projects.
A graduate of Goldsmith’s, London, British artist and designer INSA began his career as a graffiti writer, painting streets and buildings as he travelled. Soon becoming known for his now trademark ‘graffiti fetish’ pattern, INSA’s work is now held in the V&A collection, and has been presented at Tate Britain, London. Outside of the UK, INSA has left his mark in major cities around the world including; Tokyo, LA, New York, San Francisco Luxembourg, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels and Montreal.
“You’ve got to have a belief in art and some times I lose that belief. To believe art has the power to change a mood, brighten a day, make a smile, spark a thought and brighten a town. During two weeks of hard work and hard painting in Basildon, I saw the sceptical questions change to positive appreciation. I am excited to see how the rest of this project pans out and what change it instills.”
Graphenstone UK is the official paint sponsor for Our Towns: Climate wall, one of the art interventions emerging in Basildon Town for a New Street art Programme titled Our Towns
Due to their natural and ecological composition, the sustainable raw materials used to manufacture Graphenstone paints are not only free of toxic components but also help in the reduction of air pollution. Graphenstone’s award winning, lime-based paints absorb CO2 as they cure and can eliminate harmful gases such as NOx, SOx, Carbon Monoxide and VOC’s, helping to purify the air around us.