River of Hope
The British Council have launched a project called "River of Hope". The purpose of the project is to encourage teachers to use art to teach environmental themes. In 2022, River of Hope forms a central part of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Queen has always shown a great love and respect for the natural environment. The hope is that this project will encourage young people around the world to think about the importance of safeguarding the future of their own natural environment.
Two hundred of the artworks created will be printed onto silk flags and will be processed as part of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant. In addition, they will be hosting an online gallery to display all the artworks received from around the world.
Year 10 GCSE students who are studying both Art and Geography (Michaela, Mason, Mia, Leana and Holly) have come together to create Artwork based on their studies in Geography. The students have been learning about rivers in Nigeria, and how pollution by oil giants have caused this. The Niger River Delta is a densely populated region that extends over about 70,000 km2 and makes up nearly 8% of Nigeria’s land mass. Between 1976 and 2001 there were nearly 7,000 incidents involving oil spills where most of the oil was never recovered. As of 2012, some 2 million barrels of oil were being extracted from the delta every day. Groundwater and soil have been heavily polluted in the process, which has also devastated aquatic and agricultural communities.
The students have been learning about how the oil has caused catastrophic damage to the people of Nigeria and their way of life. The locals are unable to use the rivers and water supplies and nature has been damaged and destroyed. The Nigerian community have high levels of toxic chemicals in their water resources and even underground water is being polluted through seepage in waste dump sites. This is a major health risk and very upsetting to learn about.
The major industries responsible for water pollution include petrol, mining, pharmaceuticals, textiles, plastics, iron, steel, paint, food, brewing and distillery fermentation. The oil spills have affected local population health in a number of ways. One article published in the Nigerian Medical Journal in 2013 estimated that “the widespread pollution could lead to a 60% reduction in household food security and a 24% increase in the prevalence of childhood malnutrition. This is in addition to the fact that the crude oil is likely hemotoxic and can cause infertility and cancer”.
The students chose petrol and oil as their main source of inspiration in their imagery and decided that their design would be largely grayscale. Mrs Harkness led the students in discussion about how to produce imagery for their flag design. The students wanted to contrast simple shapes with more detailed studies for impact and it was a real team effort to combine the imagery together to create the final design. The imagery includes ideas that the students felt passionately about, and imagery that they wanted to communicate a message through in their flag design.
The students wanted the message about pollution, oil and impact to be portrayed, so that they could educate others in their design. The students had the freedom to choose their imagery, and their media choice. Some chose paint onto cardboard surfaces, some chose drawings and graphite onto paper. They wanted to create a strong impact in their composition. Each student contributed a small part of the overall design which was put together by their teacher Mr Tunbridge. Many thanks to Mt Tunbridge for spending so much of his time photoshopping the final imagery together.
“The students have enjoyed creating Art with a message, to educate others about something that they feel strongly about and bringing two of their option choices together outside of the classroom. They are excited at the prospect of having their flag displayed in a public place and telling others about devastating issues in the world”. Mrs Harkness, Head of the Arts Faculty.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to bring Art and Geography together and work cross-curricular for such a powerful project”. Mr Porter, Head of Humanities.