My name is Connor Welham and I am a Display and Exhibitions Assistant here at Colchester + Ipswich Museums (CIMS). Landscape Rebels is my first exhibition since joining the Exhibitions Team at CIMS. I was previously part of the Transforming People to Transform Museums Traineeship programme, where I initially worked in digital collections. I assisted with The Moon exhibition and Creating Constable, where I developed a passion for Exhibitions and gained lots of skills which helped me during Landscape Rebels.
This exhibition has been exciting and challenging for me as it’s the first time I’ll be involved with a project from start to finish. From brainstorming designs and ideas to realising these within the gallery by being a part of the practical installation has been a big learning curve. I hope everyone who comes to visit enjoys the final product.
Landscape Rebels is an exhibition that explores how artists and makers have reacted and responded to the environment around them. From making clothes using sustainable materials in order to combat the impacts of fast fashion to landscape painters preserving the natural world around them through their artworks, the exhibition seeks to inspire visitors to think about their own impact on the climate.
In the planning of this exhibition, we looked at practical ways in which we could reduce our own environmental impact by reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible. The curator of the exhibition ensured that loaned objects were kept to a minimum and that the furthest place loans travelled from was London. This was a conscious effort to reduce travel emissions.
In our efforts to be more eco-friendly, we reused a lot of materials so that we didn’t have to make or buy anything new. We typically reuse as much as we can when building exhibitions due to the fact we face budget constraints and have limited space to store materials when an exhibition ends. Reusing materials also saves lots of resources, energy, and travel emissions.
For Landscape Rebels, we reused 7 plinths and display cases, including the big centre plinth which you may recognise from the Power of Stories exhibition. We reused benches, screws, mirror plates, barriers, frames and risers and display stands. Anything we did make, we made using recycled materials such as the shelves which display the Ogilve birds and the mountboard used to display the turtle. These were both made using off-cuts of wood taken from previous exhibitions.
One of the biggest contributions to our carbon footprint when it comes to designing an exhibition is the production of large-scale vinyl and labels. We therefore researched alternative materials we could use that were paper-based instead of single-use plastic. Choosing materials that could be recycled at the end of the exhibition was a big priority for us and so we were very happy to find out that there is a market for more sustainable alternative products. Our large-scale vinyls, including the large-scale Walton Bridges, is printed on a non-PVC material that is 100% fully recyclable. Similarly, all our object labels have been produced on a paper-based vinyl that is also 100% recyclable.
I learned a lot through our efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of this exhibition and was inspired to look at my own impact on the environment. At the end of the exhibition, we have created a response wall to encourage visitors to do the same. Here we ask visitors to ‘Plant your pledge’ on the wall and take a seeded paper plant pot home to grow. My pledge is to continue finding ways to make exhibitions and displays at CIMs more eco-friendly. I really hope you enjoy Landscape Rebels; I am very proud of being part of the team that brought it to life!