Activate, Innovate, Change: Unleashing Creativity in Climate Activism — Part 1

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
4 min readApr 11, 2024

A co-produced blog series by Lizzie Lovejoy — poet, performer and picture maker — and pupils of XP School, Gateshead. Part of the Green Programme at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

Lizzie Lovejoy illustration, 2024.

Do you work with children and young people? Are you interested in developing creative digital engagement with climate activism? Explore our blog series for innovative learning approaches and resources, co-produced by young people in the North East.

Young people have an acute awareness and knowledge of climate crisis. Many are also facing some of the highest levels of mental ill health on record. As a result, traditional forms of climate activism are not always accessible. When lobbying and protest are not an option, how can young people engage with activism, and find a voice to shape their future?

Award winning artist, Lizzie Lovejoy (Visual Artist of the Year, North East Culture Awards 2023), worked with pupils at XP School to explore the North East’s relationship with energy production and climate crisis — past, present, and future — through exploring Tyne & Wear Archives Flickr account. In this co-produced blog series, we will hear from Lizzie and pupils on how the use of this digital platform can support creative engagement with activism, and high-quality intergenerational conversations.

Part 1 : ACTIVATE

‘We take our work to the screens!’

To listen to an audio recording of this blog by Lizzie Lovejoy, please click on the play button below.

Hello readers, my name is Lizzie Lovejoy. I am a poet, performer and picture maker from the North East of England. As an artist, I’ve used my creative work to be an activist. I’ve stood on beaches in the sun and rain, casting poetry across the sands with a placard in hand. I’ve created posters and drawings highlighting inequality. Art is the weapon, and we protest with creativity. Sometimes, however, we can’t leave our homes. It might not be safe, we might not be well enough, we might not have the resources. So what do we do? We take our work to the screens!

Lizzie Lovejoy, photo credit Kev Howard.

As we look towards Steam to Green at Discovery Museum, we have been working with a wonderful group of year 7 students, exploring Tyne & Wear Archives digital resources on their Flickr account, and creating artwork for activism. It’s been brilliant to see how passionate they are about caring for our environment and how compassionate they are towards the natural world. We considered the groups of people that could be impacted by our rapidly changing world, and the ecosystems that are at risk of permanent damage. Some of the students developed pieces of creative writing, whilst others created illustrations. All of them had something to say, and we should listen.

Images curated by the young people, from Tyne & Wear Archives Flickr account.

Protest and activism can take on many tones and forms. The students were raising awareness and criticising, but they were also celebrating. Radical joy is a powerful form of protest, and they exercised their creative skills to honour the beauty of the natural world, and tell the stories of vital figures of history.

Images curated by the young people, from Tyne & Wear Archives Flickr account.

ACTIVATE: Key discussion questions to support exploring digital archives material.

  • When was the photo taken?
  • Who took the photo, and what was their perspective or intention?
  • Are there any signs of environmental change?
  • Are there people or communities in the photo? If so, what are they doing?
  • What stories could be told using this photo?
  • How does the photo portray marginalised communities affected by the climate crisis?
  • What responsibilities do we have in sharing these archive photos, in the context of climate activism?

Explore the Tyne & Wear Archives Flickr account here.

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Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Major regional museum, art gallery and archives service. We manage a collection of nine venues across Tyneside and the Archives for Tyne and Wear.