An acclaimed black artist harnesses her lifelong passion for art to tackle some of the greatest challenges – and possible solutions – facing humanity and the environment, as the countdown to COP26 continues.
In less than four months, more than 190 world 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 goals ambitious campaign aimed at reducing carbon emissions and safeguarding the world’s future.
Leading experts from the Cabot Institute for the Environment at the University of Bristol will contribute to the discussions and a high-profile campaign was launched in the city this month to raise awareness of important issues to a wider audience.
The campaign designs are imagined by Emma Blake Morsi, 24, who created a series of evocative billboards and posters, currently displayed across Bristol, to highlight just how much research pioneering innovation holds the key to unlocking such pressing issues, including access to water, sanitation and sustainable food sources.
Emma, of Anglo-Nigerian descent, who grew up in the city, said: “Leading this campaign has great ambition because I am passionate about finding creative solutions to the social and sustainable challenges of the world. COP26 may not be on everyone’s radar, so it’s an important and exciting way to make the hot topics under discussion more accessible and relevant. “
The speech design vividly illustrates the interrelated fragility of ecosystems, which are vital for plants, water and food, while emphasizing that access to water and sanitation is a human right. Another captures the ravages of climate change, depicting a scene of desolate drylands juxtaposed with lush vegetation – a harsh reality that puts 2 billion people at risk.
“I really immersed myself in the research so that I could fully understand it and make the work both engaging and meaningful. The response so far has been fantastic and I am proud of the result, ”said Emma.
“The biggest reward is that the designs can spark ideas and conversations with people walking the streets or waiting for the bus who never thought about it or maybe weren’t even aware of the issues before. I truly believe that creative art can help champion environmental progress and that discussions about climate change and possible solutions need to be inclusive, starting at the local level. There is no better place than on the street to do this.
Climate change is clearly a cause that is close to Emma’s heart and the messages seem to touch on more than one level.
“I went for a walk and was surprised, but also delighted, to see the most colorful design on a billboard not far from my house,” she said.
“Producing the locked out work was difficult for all kinds of reasons, so it was quite an emotional moment. My family, who also live there, have spotted them in different places and are very proud of them. ”
Although Emma is now an award-winning artist and writer, using multiple mediums of storytelling including graphics, photographs and film, her path to success has at times been difficult with frequent trips throughout Bristol and benevolent commitments to juggle homework. growing up.
Emma said: “The journey has often been difficult, but doing art has always made me happy. From an early age I was independent and highly motivated – I had to be. I was a freelance writer in art and writing when I was a teenager and even started my own magazine.
After years of carefully honing her skills which began in early childhood, Emma had secured her Gold Arts Award at the age of 18 and a place to study the BSc Fashion Management in college.
“It was by no means certain that I would go to university and graduate because at that point I had my independent and creative work to rely on,” she said. declared. “I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to push new boundaries and spark a new passion for STEM subjects. I also had the opportunity to live abroad in Germany, working as an intern for a large global company on its sustainable creative direction and design. My research consisted of studying the circular economy and developing waste management systems, which was totally fascinating.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Emma is also working on a wide range of other art projects to advance inclusion and innovation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone and marginalized groups have been particularly affected. Completing my degree last year while isolating myself for 11 weeks was incredibly difficult, but this campaign is a reminder of the important work I plan to continue to do. Our survival depends on finding answers to these enormous challenges and time is running out. “
Professor Guy Howard, Acting Director of the Cabot Institute for the Environment and the Global Research Chair in Environmental Resilience and Infrastructure at the University of Bristol, said: “Thank you Emma for creating a Such a wonderfully dynamic and engaging series of designs, which truly bring to life the huge global challenges we face and how the research taking place here in Bristol plays a crucial role in meeting them.
“The action agreements reached at COP26 will affect all of our lives, now and in the long term, so it is important to raise awareness and improve understanding of pressing issues, such as access to water. and sustainable food sources. I hope this fantastic work of art ignites many conversations about climate change and related issues, while also encouraging people to learn more about the incredible work scientists are doing to identify possible solutions.
Jess Bunyan, Development Manager at Rising Arts Agency, campaign partner, said: “It was great to work with the Cabot Institute and to think about how this very important research could be mass-communicated on the streets of Bristol creatively through art. created by Emma. Young people are at the forefront of climate activism, so it’s really exciting to combine that with climate research. Even better is the fact that it sits alongside this year’s #WhoseFuture poster campaign which is all about care and wellness. the climate crisis allows young people and all who see these posters to advocate for change. We really enjoyed working with the team, seeing the posters come to life and we hope people will be motivated to find out more about this artwork. “
Prints of the drawings are produced to raise funds for intersectional environmental charities.
About the Cabot Institute for the Environment
The Cabot Institute for the Environment is a diverse community of 600 experts, united by a common cause: to protect our environment and to identify ways to live better with our changing planet. Find a climate change expert.
About Emma Blake Morsi
Emma Blake Morsi is an award-winning multidisciplinary producer, non-executive director of the Rising Arts Agency and member of the Bristol City Council Cultural Council. A prolific visual storyteller, she works primarily through photography, words, graphics, film, and events, and trained as a creative intersectional ecologist after years in STEM. His research consisted of developing a sustainable circular waste recovery system. Raised in Bristol, she previously lived in Germany as an intern in Creative Direction and Global Design at PUMA, primarily shifting their work to genuinely focus on sustainability representation and innovation. From content and partnerships manager for ethical marketing and public relations agency Enviral to the former associate lifestyle editor of gal-dem, Emma challenges approaches to inclusion and innovation in the spaces in which it works, producing work that can be experienced by all but above all gives visibility and engages those of marginalized groups. Find After.
About Rising Arts Agency
Rising Arts Agency is a truly youth-led social enterprise led by creative young thinkers from Bristol. Its mission is to empower underrepresented young people in Bristol to realize their creative ambitions and influence broader social change through the arts. The agency is gently protesting, co-created with and for young people, fiercely independent. Rising is an agency, not an organization. Its artists are a community, not a service user base, and are embedded in creative strategic decision-making at all levels of its work.