Yesterday, students and staff from across UAL came together for the Parade for Climate Justice. In a show of planetary care and creativity, our community walked through London in a bittersweet celebration of how the arts can – and must – respond to the climate and ecological emergency.
Organised by the Climate Emergency Network (CEN), the Parade began at several UAL Colleges and came together at Chelsea College of Arts. From Central Saint Martins, students and staff represented from across courses and disciplines. BA Architecture students carried and wore elements from the Carnival’s Base Camp which they had built the week before – from chandeliers made with biodegradable coffee grounds to wearable garments. Victoria, first-year BA Architecture student said her clothes made from waste represented “the responsibility and weight of the impact that we’re creating”.
Alumni and current students from MA Material Futures performed Lucy Orta’s Antarctica World Passport. “We’ll be issuing passports all day today,” said Clem, one of the day’s passport officers, “to symbolise global connection and a world without borders”. Other students appeared with banners and placards. “We came to make some noise,” said Esme, a BA Performance Design and Practice student on a teach-out with the rest of her class and tutors.
The Parade was joined by A Dress for Our Time by Helen Storey, an artist and researcher at Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UAL. The dress is created from a decommissioned United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee tent that once housed a displaced Syrian family at Za'atari Camp in Jordan, and was gifted to the project by UNHCR. At Chelsea’s Parade Ground the dress became part of a performance, a symbol of what it means to be human and the precarious nature of our existence.
London College of Fashion professor, Lucy Orta’s Nexus Architecture, a 50-person body sculpture. In interconnected overalls, a single human chain was presented in multi-limb formation; a creative community of connection. Heather Barnett, MA Art and Science Pathway Leader, led an interactive murmuration with students from the course and attendees. BA Fashion and MA Material Futures graduate Aliza Ruzavina brought her Love Bomb collection and Earthkinology binoculars in an explosion of care and colour. Aliza also led a group meditation “expanding our ecological selves to include place, land and urban nature kin, inviting radical interspecies kinship and blurring our anthropocentric boundaries”.
Once all the parades had arrived, environmental activist, author and theatre maker, Tamsin Omond spoke to the crowd alongside members of the Climate Emergency Network:
“An ecological awakening is creating a planetary wide social movement, the biggest social movement in the history of humankind: This is about the recognition of the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena . An understanding that, as individuals and societies, we are all embedded in the cyclical processes of nature. It’s up to us to not only to imagine, but to create other stories of being human in a more than human world.”
Dilys Williams, Professor of Fashion Design for Sustainability, London College of Fashion
As the sun set, Manifest Data Lab, a research group at UAL, projected climate animations onto the Houses of Parliament and Tate Britain. The animations depicted the global impact of temperature rises; a poignant reminder of why we had gathered in the first place.