Local creatives use their digital design skills to protect Plymouth’s wildflower meadows – FE News


Signage for wildflower meadows across the city was created in conjunction with the Smart Citizens program and the Green Minds project

Digitally crafted signs designed by local creatives through a workshop led by Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens program (@plymouthart) have been installed across Plymouth’s wildflower meadows, celebrating and protecting these important areas of urban regeneration. Co-hosted by Plymouth City Council’s Green Minds Project, which runs a number of regeneration activities across Plymouth, the workshop helped participants combine new computer-aided design (CAD) skills with their creative talents to design signs inspired by nature. The panels were then laser cut at Fab Lab Plymouth and installed in 24 locations around the city.

During the workshop, students, youth and members of local businesses developed new skills in digital design, learning the laser cutting process and the use of 2D design software “Inkscape”. Drawing inspiration from nature for their designs, participants created fun drawings and messages to raise awareness of Plymouth’s wildflower meadows and their importance. Far from unmowed grass, the regenerated grasslands planted by Green Minds are essential to supporting the city’s biodiversity, creating new habitats for wildlife and inspiring local citizens to connect with nature.

Wildflower meadow sign designed by Eve Newman Image Credit_Ray Goodwin

Wildflower Meadow Panel designed by Eve Newman, first year UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Art and Design student at Plymouth College of Art (Photo Credit – Ray Goodwin)

Participant Lauren Williams, a first year student of UAL’s Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design at Plymouth College of Art, draws inspiration from mental health and the natural environment for her artistic practice.

Reflecting on the workshop, Lauren said:

“I had a particular interest in this workshop because it brought together art and the environment, creating a way to raise awareness of the importance of wildflower meadows.

“I enjoyed the process of collaborating with like-minded people, learning a new digital skill through an easy-to-follow tutorial, and communicating ideas with my peers. Knowing that our work would serve to educate people about the importance of wildflower meadows to bees, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife, without which our pollinators face a dire future, I knew this would be an amazing project to be part of.

“If we can all take a step forward to make choices that benefit the planet, the wildlife and the animals that live on it, then we will be on our way to a better future – start by checking out Green Minds Plymouth to find out how to get there !”

Lauren Williams with their wildflower meadow sign_Image Credit_Paul Williams

Lauren Williams with her wildflower meadow sign (Photo Credit – Paul Williams)

Local projects collaborate to protect nature

The creation of the wildflower panels marks an ongoing collaboration between the Smart Citizens program and the Green Minds project, using Fab Lab Plymouth’s innovative digital resources and supporting the development of digital skills in the city to protect Plymouth’s green spaces and reveal the hidden nature of the city.

Councilor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, said:

“It has been great to work alongside local projects to create these fun signs and show people how beautiful and important these wildflower meadows are, not only for people, but also for wildlife.

“Every wildflower meadow is home to so many plants and insects and now we can share this message with the communities of Plymouth”

Since their installation, the wildflower meadow signs have been enthusiastically received by members of the public, demonstrating a clear commitment to Green Minds’ rewilding goals. Following this public support, a further 60 panels have been commissioned by Plymouth City Council, which will be laser cut at Fab Lab Plymouth and installed in new locations around the city in Spring 2022.

Wildflower Meadow Panel designed by Genevieve Stewart Image Credit_Ray Goodwin

Wildflower meadow panel designed by Genevieve Stewart, second year BA (Hons) student in Printed Textile Design and Surface Patterns at Plymouth College of Art (Photo Credit – Ray Goodwin)

Defending sustainable design skills

This workshop joins a number of themed “Nature and Conservation” workshops run by the Smart Citizens program, which helps participants digitally design and craft objects that will benefit wildlife and the environment. Previous events have seen participants create laser-cut birdhouses and assemble Smart Citizen Kit sensors to collect and monitor important environmental data around Plymouth.

In addition to helping participants create environmentally friendly objects, the Smart Citizen program also encourages manufacturers to create more sustainably. By connecting local citizens, students, entrepreneurs and businesses with new skills in digital design and manufacturing, the program champions sustainable techniques that are digitally enabled, increasingly local and reduce waste and pollution according to the principles of the circular economy. When designing their signs, participants were introduced to laser cutting, a process that produces minimal waste.

Bethan Price-Nicholls with their wildflower meadow sign_Image Credit_Ray Goodwin

Bethan Price-Nicholls with her wildflower meadow sign (Photo Credit – Ray Goodwin)

Bethan Price-Nicholls, a student who recently completed her first year of BA (Hons) Illustration at Plymouth College of Art, said:

“I love experimenting with new materials and media. By participating in the workshop, I discovered the laser cutting process, which I had never seen up close before.

“Laser cutting feels completely different to other mediums I have used in the past. I found the whole workshop to be an eye opener and a vital experience for my creative practice, learning that there are still many ways for me to grow and learn.It also opened up the possibility for me to expand my creative practice and really get out of my comfort zone to try new things.

This activity is part of the iMayflower project and has been supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which funds the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England.

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