2021 saw the sixth year of Birmingham Museums Trust's (BMT) Inspire art competition, our opportunity for young people to share their creativity. The competition launched in March, the start of spring, a perfect start for this year’s competition theme of Nature and the Environment!
With the UK hosting COP26 – the UN’s summit on Climate Change – in November, and with increasing numbers of climate-related disasters around the world in the last few years, we wanted our competition to help young people celebrate their love for nature, but also share their concerns about the planet and the actions they want us all to take, to protect their future.
Every year we’re overwhelmed by the talent, creativity and thoughtfulness of our entries, and this year was no exception. We received 110 entries from young people aged between 3 and 23 and they gave us a difficult judging job! From young people sharing the nature they’d spotted around them and the research they’d done into local wildlife, to artwork addressing the dangers our world is facing, there was a lot to choose from. The thoughtful statements from young people that went with their artworks, about their hopes and fears for our world were powerful to read and gave us hope that the planet may be safe in their hands.
For BMT the competition has extra significance this year as it ties in with the launch of Phase 2 of the ‘Our Changing Planet’ gallery at Thinktank. We opened Phase 1 in May this year, telling the story of the impact humans have had on the planet. Phase 2, which opens to the public on Thursday 30th September, looks at what researchers are doing to help protect us from the impact of climate change, and at actions we all can take that make a difference.
Alongside the gallery, BMT is also launching its Climate Pledge, our commitment at Birmingham Museums to working in a sustainable way – everything from not using single-use cups, through to improving our energy efficiency. Our Pledge will launch on September 30th and you’ll be able to read it on our website.
This year’s winning entries were chosen by our panel of judges, which included Sara Wajid, co-CEO of Birmingham Museums; Sally Payen and Jaime Jackson, artists from Salt Road; Janine Eason, our Director of Engagement; and Jannette Murphy, a long-standing volunteer with Birmingham Museums.
The winning entry in our 0- 4 age group was by Aubrey age 3, encouraging us all to ‘Put your Rubbish in the Bin!’ after she’d seen a lot of littering in her local park.
The winning entry in the 5-9 age group was Nadia’s ‘Nature Needs Us’, a great project making recycled badges to sell to raise money for a school nature area.
In the 10-14 age group, Alice’s ‘The Garden of Nature Harmony’ was the winning entry, and our judges loved her use of digital technology to create a vision of a peaceful future. This was also our Director’s Choice – congratulations!
The winning entry in the 15-19 age group was Daisy’s ‘The Beautiful Cow’, which our judges loved for its talent and its statement about the dairy industry.
In the 20-25 age group, Alison’s embroidered ‘Picnic and Plants’ was the winner, and our judges loved the use of textiles as an artform!
Due to the quality of entries, our judges also selected a ‘Highly Commended’ entry in each age group, so congratulations to Riyad, Stacey, Jahzeyah, Matilda and Daniel for their work. Our judges from Salt Road were also so impressed by the work that they’ve selected 5 pieces to form an online gallery on the Birmingham Culture Declares hub, which will launch in November. Culture Declares is a movement of arts and cultural organisations taking action and spreading the word about the climate emergency. Congratulations to Jahzeyah, Daisy, Desire, Siyona and Akshita, whose work will help spread the word about young people’s feelings about the planet.
You can see all entries we received on Flickr, and our shortlisted, Highly Commended and Winning entries are also shown on this video.
If you’re visiting Thinktank, do stop off at Our Changing Planet on level 2 where you can see the video too.
Watch out for details of next year’s competition coming out in 2022!