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‘No New Worlds’ to shine light on climate crisis at COP26

In 2020, the No New Worlds sculpture illuminated a call for the world to cherish our planet across the waters of Plymouth Sound.

Standing at 70 metres long with more than 30,000 energy efficient LED bulbs it was a powerful statement made to highlight the links between colonisation and climate change – how infinite growth cannot be sustained on a planet of finite resources.

Now the artist collective behind it, Still/Moving, will take the message to the critical COP26 talks in Glasgow, where it will stand in front of world leaders on the most global of stages.

Still/Moving are a collective rooted in Plymouth – the instantly recognisable sculpture was originally commissioned to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing from the city.

Throughout September, October and November 2020, it transformed the Mount Batten Breakwater into a public forum for discussion and debate.

It raised awareness about the impact and legacy of the journeys made by the Mayflower and its companion ship the Speedwell, colonialism and the ecological state of our planet.

This November, the Still/Moving team will take ‘No New Worlds’ to Glasgow from November 1-12. The lights will turn on at 5.45pm on Saturday 30 October 2021.

Laura Hopes, co-director at Still/Moving, explained: “Since last autumn, ‘No New Worlds’ has been on an exciting journey of evolution whereby we are going to be taking it to the COP26 talks in Glasgow. Its new position will be on the River Clyde – right next to the COP26 conference zone.

“Between then and this November, we’ve been working with communities across the UK, starting in Carbis Bay in June.

“We’ve also been working with Tavistock College to gather voices from lots of different groups, from different sectors that they would want to share with world leaders at COP26.

“We were really surprised by the sophistication of the students’ responses. I think we were expecting phrases like, ’no plastic’. Actually, the way they were able to kind of think about these ideas and how to make them quite poetic was really exciting.

“We found with ‘No New Worlds’ and with the smallest sculptures that rather than telling people what to do or what not to think, that having a little bit of subtlety helps people to explore these complicated issues.”

Martin Hampton, Léonie Hampton and Laura Hopes, co-directors of Still/Moving CIC
At the installation at Mount Batten breakwater in 2020

It has been a long journey for Still/Moving leading up to Glasgow.

Léonie Hampton, co-director, revealed: “For Still/Moving, I think we had a dream that we could take the sculpture to COP26 when we realised that we wanted to connect questions of climate change and ecological collapse with these 400 years which are connected to colonialism.

“So, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to take it to COP26?’ But at that time, COP26 was going to happen in November 2020, when the installation was in Plymouth.

“However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was delayed so suddenly it all became possible. And by the miracle of all miracles, we managed to get the funding to make it happen.”

The support for the project has been immense, and it’s something for which the artists are truly grateful.

Laura revealed: “We were encouraged by lots of people that ‘No New Worlds’ should reappear at Glasgow for the COP talks.

“We were invited by the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative, whose work is about preserving governed docks, to install the sculpture there.

“It’s an incredible location, literally right next to the COP26 delegates’ zones with maximum visibility. It’s also got that beautiful reflection on the water that it had implemented as well.

“We have been able to make this happen by an ongoing Crowdfunder campaign that has been supported by individuals. And we’ve also had a private donation from an environmental foundation who also made it possible.”

Léonie says the original commission of the sculpture was intrinsic to the conceptual foundation of the piece.

“In the beginning, we didn’t know we were going to write ‘No New Worlds’,” she said. “So, our journey of research brought us to the way that that piece works and the thought process behind it. We’re really grateful that we were given the opportunity to think about that.

“The partnerships that we formed while making ‘No New Worlds’ were actually instrumental in supporting the original kind of iterations of this.

“So, The Box commissioned us to do a commission during COVID where we first kind of came up with this concept of making smaller rewritable holdable versions and where people could actually say something and we could capture that and put it and put it into, into light.

“The Box supported us then with seed funds that took us to a space, which is the very first community we worked in to make this work that’s on the road to COP26. Plymouth Culture has also supported us and, without that support, I don’t know if we’d be here right now.”

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So, what’s next for the Still/Moving team?

“What’s next… Well, we’re Still/Moving!” laughed Léonie. “Actually, we’re really quite excited to tie up this journey of working with lights because we feel like we were getting to the point where we’d be like, ‘We’d be the people you’d use if you want to have light’ – whereas we don’t want to be recognised as that.

“At the minute, we’re working on two different projects – very much still in line with the conversation and climate change, trying to deal with this problem head-on and stay with the trouble of climate change. 

“We’re doing that in different ways. Laura has this wonderful collaboration with Dr Katherine Earnshaw, who’s a professor at Exeter University – and that’s to do with agriculture and soil.

“And I’ve been doing an artist residency at Exeter University, as well with the Medical Mycology Centre, which is about fungus and we’re looking into making a Second.

“I moved to Devon nine years ago. I started my artistic career in London and it’s been such a blessing to come to Plymouth. I feel like there’s a culture which one can feel really a part of.”

Laura added: “It’s always been really important for us to work at a grassroots level and not just on a sort of really large scale. This reflects my work in Plymouth with Visual Arts Plymouth.

“I think over the last 10 years, it’s been really extraordinary to see the way Plymouth is showing incredible international arts and becoming a place where artists make exciting work and support each other. It’s been really great to see that.”

Find out more about Still/Moving here and you can donate to the Crowdfunder here

So, what’s next for the Still/Moving team?

“What’s next… Well, we’re Still/Moving!” laughed Léonie. “Actually, we’re really quite excited to tie up this journey of working with lights because we feel like we were getting to the point where we’d be like, ‘We’d be the people you’d use if you want to have light’ – whereas we don’t want to be recognised as that.

“At the minute, we’re working on two different projects – very much still in line with the conversation and climate change, trying to deal with this problem head-on and stay with the trouble of climate change. 

“We’re doing that in different ways. Laura has this wonderful collaboration with Dr Katherine Earnshaw, who’s a professor at Exeter University – and that’s to do with agriculture and soil.

“And I’ve been doing an artist residency at Exeter University, as well with the Medical Mycology Centre, which is about fungus and we’re looking into making a Second.

“I moved to Devon nine years ago. I started my artistic career in London and it’s been such a blessing to come to Plymouth. I feel like there’s a culture which one can feel really a part of.”

Laura added: “It’s always been really important for us to work at a grassroots level and not just on a sort of really large scale. This reflects my work in Plymouth with Visual Arts Plymouth.

“I think over the last 10 years, it’s been really extraordinary to see the way Plymouth is showing incredible international arts and becoming a place where artists make exciting work and support each other. It’s been really great to see that.”

Find out more about Still/Moving here and you can donate to the Crowdfunder here

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