Scottish teenagers create powerful art installation around Clarion The Bear

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Inspired by COP26, twenty-five pupils from seven schools across West Lothian, Fife, Clackmannanshire, Stirling, and Glasgow came together to create a powerful art installation with Clarion the Bear at its heart.  The Design for the Planet workshop was hosted by the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA) on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th November 2021.

Young people joined from Alva Academy, Inverkeithing High, Linlithgow Academy, Jordanhill in Glasgow, St Modan’s High and Wallace High in Stirling, as well as Dollar Academy. The first day saw the students working with award-winning Scottish architects John Brown of Page\Park and Iain Shillady of Staran Architects, to explore how monuments have been used down the ages to capture the values of a society and transmit them to future generations.

Michael Davies, Founder of Parallel Histories, led a debate on the controversial Henry Dundas monument in Edinburgh, to illuminate the tensions that arise when societal values shift. Iain Shillady and artist Peter Nelson then led a series of sketching and model-making sessions to develop students’ experience of the design process.

The second day saw pupils enjoy a huge surprise when Clarion was revealed to them after his historic trip on foot from Shropshire to COP26. They carried him together into the building, navigating through almost impossibly narrow doorways and stairwells, before creating a large-scale installation with the bear as its centrepiece, drawing upon their new perspectives on monuments and design experience.

In their exploration of world monuments, the students had been particularly moved by the fields of white crosses constructed as memorials to the fallen soldiers of World War II. This inspired their design of a melting iceberg with a sea of crosses representing the extinction of living species caused by climate change. There was human-produced waste littered through the crosses and a noose made of plastic bags around the neck of the bear, symbolising the human causes of the climate crisis.

The Design for the Planet workshop embodied a new way of learning pioneered by FIDA, in which young people collaborate with professionals beyond the sphere of school to design solutions to challenges rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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