My Carbon Family

As part of City of Culture, the City Council is commissioning new public artwork intended to address climate change issues. My Carbon Family is a ‘family’ of sculptures commissioned to work as a 3-D sculptural bar chart – an innovative multimedia project to help people to better understand the unseen carbon emissions from materials we all use.

Every one of us causes a vast amount of energy-intensive materials to be used every year, with high CO2 emissions to match.

BBC News will make five digital videos and a World TV documentary / iplayer examining the production and use of the materials whilst also documenting the artists whilst they create their individual pieces. The making of the sculptures will provide a visual narrative to the broadcast materials.

The idea was first proposed by BBC journalist Roger Harrabin and Artist Simon Bingle and the project will be widely covered by the BBC, including a BBC World documentary. Creative Giants have been brought on-board to manage this project of which the outcome will be a public artwork – My Carbon Family. It will encourage a dialogue with Coventry residents and visitors regarding their own carbon footprint and a wider discussion of the Climate Crisis.

The artworks will consist of a group of five sculptural forms to be installed together in a central city outdoor location. Each artwork will be created by a different artist with Coventry and Midlands artists and makers particularly sought, although other UK artists are also encouraged to apply.

The artworks themselves will each be made using one specific material, cement, steel, aluminium, plastic and paper/card. These represent the five main materials contributing to climate change due to the amount of carbon-intensive energy used in their manufacture.

These forms will be based on human size, loosely anthropomorphic in form and non-gendered. The size of each figure will roughly correspond to the amount of carbon produced on behalf of every UK citizen per year. Once installed, each of these artworks will have a digital element embedded within or next to them. The audience will then be able to interact with the artwork and be prompted to raise questions about their own carbon footprint data and wider climate issues.

The Council wants to engage Coventry residents with this project to ensure a sense of ownership and relevance. This will be done through a series of engagement activities as part of the making process.

The artworks will aim to be installed towards the end of 2021 to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (C.O.P) on the 1st November.

The sculptures will relate to one another in their scale and the proportion of their respective carbon foot-print.

Simon Bingle (Lead Artist) will be working with all the selected Artists as a team, to curate all the individual designs in a collaborative process. The sculptures will work together as a collection (or family) of artworks and will each be made primarily from one single material.

The sculptural forms are to be loosely anthropomorphic in nature but the commissioners are looking for more abstract pieces rather than direct human figures. “We are particularly keen to use recycled, repurposed or sustainable versions of these materials. This gives an exciting opportunity to work with new environmentally friendly and cutting edge materials.”

The project seeks to engage Coventry residents to ensure a sense of ownership and relevance. At least two of the commissions will be awarded to artists from the West Midlands or with connections to the area. All of the selected artists will be asked to propose engagement activities as part of the making or design process. Each of the commissions will work with a different group and be able to offer at least one workshop or activity.

Each of the 5 artworks will be allocated a budget in the region of £8,000 – £15,000 depending on the complexity, size and material costs of each design. This includes all design and artist fees, fabrication, material costs and expenses and excludes VAT. There is a separate budget for engagement, installation, haulage of artworks to site and professional fees, such as structural engineers.

The sculpture will have a lifespan of 5-10 years. Each of the sculptures must be made primarily from one material – Plastic, Steel, Aluminium, Paper/Card. The Concrete sculpture will be made by Lead Artist Simon Bingle.

The deadline for artists to submit their briefs for one of these commissions is 25th April.

Photo at top – Jason deCaires Taylor, The Rising Tide. The sculpture in the Thames is only visible at high tide.

One thought on “My Carbon Family

  1. This sounds an interesting idea. Also can anyone tell me what happened to the sculpture of man, made out of knives which was so cleverly designed? I feel it should return to Coventry as we are the city of peace and reconciliation.


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