Children are asked by UK museums to use their art to motivate change

The Wild Escape is a major new national campaign led by the Art Fund to respond creatively to the threat to the UK...

To increase public awareness of the threat to the environment and nature, hundreds of thousands of kids will create wildlife artwork in 500 UK museums.

The children's artwork will then be recreated by several artists for a large-scale digital piece, including FKA Twigs.

The Wild Escape will be the largest museum project in the history of the UK.

It draws inspiration from Sir David Attenborough's upcoming BBC One series Wild Isles, which demonstrates the significance of UK nature to the rest of the world.

The series, which will debut later this year, is co-produced by Dr. Philip Wheeler, a senior lecturer in ecology at The Open University. He told BBC News: "I hope the public interest this series generates will give wildlife in Britain and Ireland the boost it desperately needs. ".

A national arts charity called The Art Fund started working on the project more than two years ago in response to how little interaction there was between young children and their surroundings during Covid.

Every child in primary school is welcome to use the wildlife collections from the museums to inspire their own artwork through specially organized activities. It is hoped that as kids learn more about the environment and wildlife, they will be motivated to work to preserve it in the future.

When it comes to protecting biodiversity, the UK currently ranks among the least protected nations in the world (the bottom 10%).

The UK has only 50.3 percent of its biodiversity left, compared to nearly 90 percent in Canada, according to the Biodiversity Intactness Index created in 2020 by the Natural History Museum, which hosted the launch of Wild Escapes on Tuesday.

"Nature is on its knees in the UK," said Rosalind Mist, director of education and youth engagement at WWF, which is supporting Wild Escapes.

Young people are essential to determining the course of the natural world's future, and it's not too late to change things. ".

Adult greenfinch sits on a branch in Norfolk shaking its feathers
Birds like the greenfinch are in danger of going extinct because more than 40 million of them have vanished from the UK since 1970.

From the Natural History Museum in London to the West Highland Museum in Fort William, at least 500 museums from all over the UK have joined the program.

Children in Hastings will be given access to the 24 acres of natural materials that Bright Foundations has on hand so they can make their own sculptures of local wildlife.

Artist Ruth Moilliet will host workshops at Gallery Oldham in Manchester for area elementary schools to create artworks of critically endangered flowers using recycled plastic.

Major established artists like Es Devlin, FKA Twigs, and Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger will then draw inspiration from the children's artwork to create new works of art that will be unveiled on April 22, Earth Day.

FKA Twigs told the BBC at the launch that she believed kids had the most amazing minds. "I'm happy to play a small role in encouraging kids to connect with nature, to connect with creepy crawlies and furry animals," she said, adding that she was happy to do so.

Artists as part of the Wild Escapes project look at a display at the Natural History Museum with a group of primary school children
Back: On the day of the launch, FKA Twigs (second from left), Es Devlin (second from right), and Mark Wallinger (right) assisted kids in drawing at the Natural History Museum.

The BBC will produce brief films that showcase the artists at work and will host them on BBC Bitesize, a free educational tool for kids.

Museums also need to "use their collections to inspire children to get out," according to Errol Reuben Fernandes, head of horticulture at the Horniman Museum, which won 2022 Museum of the Year and is participating in the program.

Many of the museums are collaborating with neighborhood parks and RSPB nature reserves to support this initiative, according to Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund, in order to inspire kids to both understand and depict the UK's natural world.

According to FKA Twigs, this aspect of the project will also promote the mental and physical health of children.

Visits to nature at least once a week have a positive effect on people's health and how they treat the environment, according to research by Natural England and top UK universities.

Two women in the Horniman Gardens
Errol Fernandes, head of horticulture at the Horniman Museum, stated that they are enhancing biodiversity throughout the museum's 16.5 acre-garden for the project.

The Wild Escapes project begins this weekend, and more details are available on the Art Fund website.

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