Local creatives in Plymouth have put their digital skills to good use to protect wildflower meadows across the city. Following a workshop led by Plymouth College of Art’s Smart Citizens Programme, the signs have been installed to celebrate and protect spaces being used for urban re-wilding.
Co-hosted by Plymouth City Council’s Green Minds project, which leads a number of local re-wilding activities, the workshop allowed participants to combine new computer aided design (CAD) skills with their creative talents to produce nature-centred signs, which were then laser cut at Fab Lab Plymouth and installed in 24 locations.
On top of gaining new digital design expertise, participants learnt about the process of laser cutting and how to use Inkscape – the 2D design software. Through digital drawings and messaging, participants hope their signs will raise awareness of the importance of wildflower meadows – which are critical to maintaining the city’s biodiversity, creating new habitats and encouraging people to further connect with nature.
“Laser cutting gives a completely different feel to other mediums that I have used in the past. I found the whole workshop to be an eye opener and it was a vital experience for my creative practice” – Bethan Price-Nicholls, Plymouth College of Art
Bethan Price-Nicholls, a student who recently completed her first year in BA (Hons) Illustration at Plymouth College of Art, said: “I love experimenting with new materials and media. While taking part in the workshop I learnt about the laser cutting process, which I had never seen up close before.
“Laser cutting gives a completely different feel to other mediums that I have used in the past. I found the whole workshop to be an eye opener and it was a vital experience for my creative practice, teaching me that there are still many ways in which I can develop and learn. It has also welcomed me to the possibility of expanding my creative practice and really getting out of my comfort zone to try more new things.”
The project joins a selection of other nature and conservation-themed workshops hosted by the Smart Citizens Programme, harnessing the power of digital design to create things that benefit wildlife and the environment. Previous events allowed participants to create laser-cut bird houses and assemble Smart Citizen Kit sensors to collect and monitor important environmental data around Plymouth.
On the wild meadows project, councillor Patrick Nicholson, deputy leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “It has been great to work alongside local projects to create these fun signs and show people how beautiful and important these wildflower meadows are – not just for people, but for wildlife, too.
“Each wildflower meadow provides a home for so many plants and insects and now we can share this message with communities across Plymouth.”
Since their installation, the wildflower meadow signs have been received with enthusiasm by members of the public, demonstrating a clear engagement with Green Minds’ re-wilding aims. Following this public support, a further 60 signs have been commissioned by Plymouth City Council, which will be laser cut at Fab Lab Plymouth and installed in new locations around the city in Spring 2022.
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