Activate, Innovate, Change: Unleashing Creativity in Climate Activism — Part 2

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.

Part 2 : INNOVATE

‘We are XP Gateshead. We are Steam to Green. We are The Future’.

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

In our very first week we looked through some of the images from the Tyne & Wear Archives and began to curate. The young people ordered, labelled and moved the photographs to communicate stories and ideas. Within a matter of hours, they were fully prepared to curate an exhibition all about the Tyne Bridge and life around our great river.

Lizzie Lovejoy illustration, 2024.

We dove into the communities and life which surrounds our waters and considered which peoples and places might be most impacted by climate change.

I will now pass on to one of the mint young people who has written up her thoughts. They have decided that their art collective shall be called ‘The Future’.

Hello! My name is (also) Lizzie, and I am a student at XP Gateshead. We have been working with Lizzie Lovejoy on a creative project about the environment and activism. We want to use our work to get across our message and opinions about the climate. For this project, we have created a digital exhibition full of art, creative writing, poems, and more. We believe that quick action is needed to save our deteriorating planet. Our work is to spread the word against things that harm the world around us. We are Freya, Molly, Elina, Isaac, James and Lizzie. We are XP Gateshead. We are Steam to Green. We are The Future.

I have written my pieces of creative writing to show that the environment is beautiful, it is being destroyed, it needs to be saved. I also did this to show that our local environment is filled with life forms that haven’t done anything to deserve the damage being done to them. From trees to bees, our ecosystems deserve to be protected.

The changing climate impacts our future. The future of humans and all life on the planet. The weather will be hotter and wetter, and therefore less bearable. Everything will be more difficult for us to manage. There will come a point, if this continues, that we will be unable to survive on our own planet. It also impacts the creatures in the North and South poles as the ice is melting, causing floods and a lack of food for them to eat.

If we don’t start looking after our local landscape now, we might not have any green land left to walk through. So, we will write and draw and create until the world starts listening. We are The Future, we would like to still have a planet when we grow up.

When we were creating our mini exhibition, the students considered a range of photos from ship building in South Tyneside and Sunderland, to scenic photos of Jesmond and Newcastle, as well as the documented process of building the iconic Tyne bridge. Some of the students were focused on who the people were in these images, others on the objects themselves.

Lizzie Lovejoy illustration, 2024.

Over the next two weeks, the group created protest zines. Zines are a kind of mini-magazine, typically handmade or handcrafted and cheaply printed. They used images from the archives to collage their booklets and tackled themes of trees, birds and our working-class community in relation to the changing climate, considering the people who came before and worked with the Tyne for their livelihoods from fishing to boat building.

Selection of pages from the created zines.

With local fish and underwater ecosystems altering with new currents and different temperatures, entire human societies and workplaces have been stopped or moved. Dead crabs and other shellfish on our beaches are a sign that our world is changing, and with it, our lives will change too. The students of XP were very concerned with what that future will look like and decided to document their thoughts and ideas about it.

INNOVATE: Key discussion questions for supporting creative responses

  • What resources, skills, and expertise do I already have?
  • Which digital platforms could I use to reach people?
  • Who could I collaborate with?
  • How could I learn from making mistakes?
  • How can I make sure my creative response is inclusive and accessible?

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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.