Over 100 abstract trees created by children and young people from more than 25 Hampshire schools are now on display outside Winchester Cathedral, as part of a project to spark a wider conversation about climate change, supported by Hampshire County Council. The interactive ‘Climate Change Forest’ art installation is adorned with drawings, sculptures, and recyclable and up-cycled items such as plastic bottles and reclaimed wood, and can be viewed outside Winchester Cathedral until 5 July.
Each abstract tree on display has been created by pupils ranging from Year R to Year 11 from schools across Hampshire, and focuses on specific environmental issues pupils have chosen, from deforestation to carbon emissions, rising sea levels, air pollution, animal extinction and plastic production. The installation includes bunting that shares pupils’ written messages and QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone to access further information about each artwork, such as voice clips of pupils sharing their personal messages about climate change.
Councillor Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “When the County Council asked children and young people about their concerns for our county and its future, they told us it was climate change, and that they wanted to more involved in raising awareness about this important issue and sharing their views. We are proud to have been able to support the voices of these children and young people by helping schools to create their abstract tree over the last year, and I am incredibly impressed with the passion and creativity pupils have shown.”
The Dean of Winchester, the Very Revd Catherine Ogle said, “I am delighted that we are able to showcase this important installation in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral. The artwork is particularly timely as global discussions take place around climate change, as it highlights that we cannot shy away from our responsibilities to care for the planet. We only have this one earthly home and it’s crucial that, as we learn more about the impact of climate change, we all make a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.”
Councillor Jan Warwick, Hampshire County Council Executive Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, said: “We want more people in our communities to be thinking and talking about climate change and it is right that this includes our younger generations, who will lead this work in the future. I hope that Hampshire residents young and old will visit Winchester Cathedral to see the ‘Climate Change Forest’ and hear what Hampshire’s children and young people have to say.”
The ‘Climate Change Forest’ project began in December 2019 and is part of Hampshire County Council’s commitment to educate children and young people about climate change and ensure that pupil voices are heard. During the spring and summer of 2020, the County Council’s Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS), which offers a range of support to Hampshire schools such as curriculum development and staff training, provided additional curriculum adviser time to schools to help education staff get pupils thinking and talking about climate change, and designing and creating their abstract trees.