Nesta’s Sustainable Future mission aims to significantly reduce the amount of pollution from homes in the UK. To help achieve that mission, Nesta wants to engage the UK public in the conversation and help tackle the climate crisis. As part of this mission, Nesta is partnering with National Gallery X (The National Gallery and King’s College London) to offer a unique creative research and development opportunity, working with creatives and artists to develop an experience to catalyse a net-zero carbon future – inspired by one of the greatest collections of art in the world.
The UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 requires some big changes to the way we live.The relationship we have with our homes and, in particular, the effect of household emissions on climate change, is an area we are keen to explore. We all want to pass on a healthy planet to future generations. Over the next few years, governments, businesses and the energy sector need to take practical action to make it affordable and attractive for everyone to have a low-carbon home, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
To help make low-carbon homes a reality, we need art and creativity to be at the forefront of inspiring new behaviours and ways of relating to our world. With this in mind, we are seeking to work with creative / artistic teams that demonstrate a passionate commitment to creating work that seeks to effect transformative environmental and social change, and that place their target audiences at the heart of their creative process.
We want to support the creation of a compelling experience hosted in the gallery’s innovation space NGX. The experience will be based around the Gallery’s collection and stories and will ignite wider media and public interest around climate change and household emissions, contributing to a popular movement to create cleaner, greener homes.
Nesta’s own research shows the importance of this issue. In a Feb 2021 UK survey, 85% of people agreed that climate change is one of the most important issues that needs addressing and 84% agreed everyone will have to address energy efficient and green heating measures in their homes sooner or later. However, despite the residential sector being the third-biggest emitter, accounting for a fifth of all UK emissions, only 35% have adopted or are planning to adopt energy efficiency measures in their own homes soon. There is a need to highlight the significance of household emissions and help drive the urgency and scale of change required. This project seeks to draw on the power of the arts to engage, inspire, shift mindsets and motivate change to help achieve this.
The Gallery’s collection of paintings documents aspects of human lives, society and history in western Europe across the last millennium – a period spanning vast social and economic change. This includes mass migration from the countryside to towns and cities, the industrial revolution, the large scale exploitation of fossil fuels to support cheap energy – which has driven radical changes in how we live in our homes as well as the rapid growth of consumer capitalism in the 20th century: seismic changes which have underpinned and fuelled the climate change we face today.
The collection features paintings which depict some of the issues we are facing the consequences of today (for example Turner and industrial smog) and landscapes which are frozen in time but which might look very different today due to urban expansion or which will be transformed by climate change. It portrays people in and outside homes; what would these environments look like today in a world of central heating and open plan living; what might they look like in the future?
What can we learn from these paintings, in terms of how people used to live, which might be useful for us today? What do they tell us about how society can change and the ways in which people have made rapid and radical changes to their lives in response to external events throughout history?
We will offer one R&D production commission in the region of £40k along with in-kind contributions from The National Gallery, King’s College London and Nesta.
The commission will enable a successful team, driven by a desire to catalyse change, to develop an experience that is creatively ambitious, grounded in science, the Gallery’s collection and co-designed with target audiences.
We are looking for artists and creatives with a track record in environmentally engaged practice and the development of site specific digital experiences. Creative ambition, scale of impact and audience focus will be our key evaluation criteria in the awarding of the commission.
Entries are now closed and the selection procedure is underway.