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New Climate Art Installation to be Unveiled at London's Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair on the Eve of UN Conference

Submitted by Lisa Baker on 23 August 2022 - 2:33pm

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Artist Leonie Bradley has been selected to create a powerful new installation entitled ‘Swarm’, to be unveiled on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27. Commissioned by Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair and Landsec, this major new climate artwork will be exhibited in London from 3-6 November at the fair and then installed at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford during 2023. 

Bradley, whose work is held in significant collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Ashmolean Museum, and Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Art, was selected via an international open call. 

‘Swarm’ is a large-scale mixed-media artwork made up of hundreds of tiny, fully recyclable screen-printed origami bees. Origami fortune-teller forms are typically used as a game by children to predict the future or ask playful questions to one another. In the context of this artwork, the origami shape inspires us to think about chance versus decision and the positive climate futures we can choose to create. The artwork will continue to evolve throughout its display, mirroring the continuously changing nature of our environment. 

The artwork encourages a deeper engagement with ecology is based on scientific research, having been developed through a collaboration between the artist and scientists at the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. It takes inspiration from the visual spectacle of a swarm of Honeybees splitting from the hive to look for a new home - a positive sign of survival and reproduction. 

The commission forms a part of a creative collaboration between Landsec, one of the leading real estate companies in the UK, and Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, Europe’s largest art fair dedicated to contemporary print.   

Jack Bullen, co-founder of the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair comments, “Art and culture are fundamental to tackling the climate crisis, we need an ideological revolution, not just clever technical solutions, and few things change society in the way that art can. Throughout history, printmaking has always been a radical art form and we’re using it to positively shape the world. We want this installation to provoke and change the choices people make.”

Jennie Colville, Head of ESG and Sustainability at Landsec said: “Creating sustainable places sits at the core of our purpose and runs through everything we do, from the spaces we create, to the projects we support. We believe that everyone has a responsibility to play a part in the fight against climate change, using shared cultural moments is one of the many ways we can bring this important message to life."

Artist Leonie Bradley comments, “I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to raise awareness of the ecological crisis through printmaking. By approaching such a difficult subject in an unexpected, playful way, I hope to encourage positive change. Each bee contains a message of hope and together they form a swarm, a sign of survival and reproduction. ’Swarm' is a metaphor for people working together and growing.”

‘Swarm’ is the winning artwork selected from an annual international open call. The open call invites proposals for an ambitious, large-scale, print-based installation that pushes the possibilities of printmaking, challenges preconceptions of what a print is, and discovers new innovative approaches to print display and exhibition. Previous winners include Abigail Downer, Victoria Ahrens, Rod Nelson, Carol Wyss, Tanaka Mazivanhanga, and Carol Wilhide Justin. 

Now in its seventh year, Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair champions the power of art to challenge, inspire and educate audiences. It encourages open call applications that look to themes of ecology, climate action and environmentalism. Their programme includes a plethora of climate-based art projects including the Young London Print Prize, a pioneering visual arts programme for young people from low-income neighbourhoods, themed around the concept of climate art.

Contact Information: 

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, The Fireworks Factory, No.1 Street, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London, SE18 6HD

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