A Moth's Whisper – Bath Spa University

BA Creative Writing student wins Sustainability First People's Choice Art Prize

Wednesday, 24 November, 2021

BA Creative Writing student Miranda Barlow is part of the project team for Moths to a Flame which has won the Sustainability First People's Choice Art Prize 2021. The project is a mass participation art installation engaging thousands of people in creative activity and conversation inspired by our energy systems, relationship with nature, and the climate emergency.

Third year student Miranda wrote and illustrated the children’s book The Moth's Whisper which was an essential part of the project. The book gives young children the opportunity to learn about issues around climate change in an accessible way and older children can understand the allegory within the book - that humans are like moths to a flame in that we are dazzled by shiny lights, phones and tech while irreparable damage is happening to the planet.

Talking about the project Miranda said:

“After speaking with many children about climate change in the last few years I have come to realise that they all feel very worried about the planet and their futures. Often children don’t have a voice or a way to express their worries and hopes. I think we have all felt like that at some point and when we experience that worry with no way to express it we become overwhelmed. Then we feel we can’t do anything about it, we avoid what’s happening and switch off to climate change—we become disempowered. Many, many people feel that way but I think children are particularly affected by this.”

The Moth’s Whisper also includes an augmented reality colouring sheet in the back of the book so that the children can bring the moth to life and encourages the children to get involved in the Moths to a Flame project.

“We wanted the project to be something that young children can understand, relate to and enjoy taking part in while learning about climate change. The book has a strong, urgent message about restoring our ecology and environment but also invites the children reading it to take action to change what’s happening to our world—to us all. If the project or book was too frightening then very young children might become discouraged and give up entirely. Being able to take action, a doable action, automatically engenders hope and empowerment in people young or old.”

The Moths To A Flame art installation was on display at the Kibble Palace in Glasgow during COP26. It included 20,000 decorated moths made from plastic milk bottles each of which represents the voice of a child asking the world leaders at COP26 to take action to stop climate change.

“By asking them to do this the children realised that the moth they made became their voice, their way of expressing their concerns to the world leaders when they couldn’t be in Glasgow themselves. This is an important thing for young people to understand and be part of — that art is another type of voice — and an extremely powerful way to express ourselves.”

Watch Miranda read her book and find out more about the Moths to a Flame project.

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