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Parade for Climate Justice

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4 placards lay against a window. One is blue and white and says, 'solidarity with critters' and the other is pink and green and says 'no scarcity of imagination'.
4 placards lay against a window. One is blue and white and says, 'solidarity with critters' and the other is pink and green and says 'no scarcity of imagination'.
Placards designed by Armandine Forest, Central Saint Martins, and produced by MOULD Earth | Photograph Beau Brannick
Written by
Beau Brannick
Published date
22 November 2021

Last week, students, staff, and alumni from across UAL joined forces for the Parade for Climate Justice. In a sea of colour, creativity and resistence, the UAL community gathered in a powerful response to the climate and ecological emergency, as part of the Carnival of Crisis.

Organised by the Climate Emergency Network (CEN), Carnival of Crisis brought together a global network of arts universities, partners, and the public with the UAL community. Carnival, which took shape as a season of talks, workshops, exhibitions. The Parade mobilised creative change-makers to demonstrate the power of imagination, innovation, and collaboration around climate justice.

Students and alumni from across UAL’s 6 Colleges gathered at Chelsea Parade Ground, many wearing their own designs inspired by climate issues and holding banners and placards with slogans such as “Solutions not pollution” and “Decolonise and decarbonise”.

The event featured speakers such as British author, environmental activist and journalist Tamsin Omond and Creative Director of the Carnival, Kate Pelen, and performances from Wimbledon’s BA (Hons) Acting and Performance students, featuring A Dress for Our Time by Professor Helen Storey, artist and researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion (LCF). Stretched across the Parade Ground was a 50-person conjoined garment by Professor Lucy Orta called Nexus Architecture, customised by students from The Glasgow School of Art and Chelsea BA (Hons) Textile Design.

  • Nexus10Nov21-136.jpg
    , Professor Lucy Orta, 50-Person Conjoined Garment | Photograph: Lori Demata
  • CarnivalOfCrisis_Chelsea_10Nov21_22.jpg
    , Professor Helen Storey, Researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, LCF, 'A Dress for Our Time', worn by Wimbledon BA (Hons) Acting and Performance students | Photograph Beau Brannick

UAL leadership figures including President and Vice Chancellor James Purnell, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Central Saint Martins Jeremy Till, and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Dilys Williams, also joined the Parade and spoke of their commitment to climate justice.

As world that stands on the brink of sixth mass extinction, make way for a riot of colour, creativity, collectivity and wild dreaming at the horizon of what Is possible.”

— Abbi Fletcher COP 26 Project Manager and Senior Lecturer in Textile Design

Alisa Ruzavina, a CSM MA Materials Future alumni attended the Parade with a team of students dressed up in her ‘Love Bomb’ collection. Influenced by travels to monumental visionary environments of The Tarot Garden and Salvation Mountain, the collection intends to bring positive energy and attention to the interconnectedness of several social and environmental issues.

A few days on from the Parade, Alisa reflects on the event.

Having spent 7 years studying at CSM, this Parade has filled me with great hope and optimism seeing how concern for climate justice is gaining major importance in our collective creative inquiry as a community. I feel that this focus, together with further emphasis on developing personal and institution-wide decolonial anti-racist approaches, is taking us to a potent place where we are recognising our responsibility for our creative practice to be centred in integrity, authenticity, care, empathy and most importantly love for our planet and all our human and more-than-human neighbours.

— Alisa Ruzavina MA Material Futures, Central Saint Martins

As the evening drew to a close, Manifest Data Lab, a research group at UAL projected animations onto the Houses of Parliament and Tate Britain. As the public and cars went by, they could look at the animations showing the global impact of temperature rises.

Vogue and the Evening Standard covered the Parade and captured students, alumni and staff responding creatively to the question 'What will you bring' by taking flags, banners and art installations to the demonstration.

If you missed the Parade for Climate Justice, you can catch up on the event recording. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing recordings from the Carnival of Crisis. For now, sign up to the Climate Emergency Network’s newsletter to stay in the loop and find resources, opportunities, projects and ideas for creative climate action.