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Young Londoners Use Art to Voice Climate Dreams on 50th Anniversary of World Environment Day

A Child Waving In Front Of Artwork

A competition inviting young Londoners to express their response to the climate crisis through art launches today on the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day.  

Published: 06/06/2023

Nearly 2,000 young artists between the ages of 9 and 11 from 37 schools across the capital are taking part, with the winners announced in October on the Piccadilly Lights. 

Supported by Peabody, the Young London Print Prize ran for the first time during the pandemic and has quadrupled in size since. All the work is created, judged and curated by young people themselves. The competition celebrates their creativity and the many ways that art and culture can inspire an ecological renaissance.   

In 2022, the Prize was won by Sara Ahmed, a Year 6 pupil from Mayflower Primary School in Tower Hamlets for an artwork called ‘Message on a bottle’. This year’s World Environment Day is themed around preventing plastic pollution, and Sara’s work, made using clay and ink with a technique called relief printing, speaks powerfully to this issue. Every year eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans. The equivalent of one bin-lorry load every minute. 

Supporting the prize is part of Peabody’s wider work to reduce the impact of climate change on our people, communities and the environment. Our new sustainability strategy 2023-2026 – shaped by our customers including a group of young advisors – sets outs our commitment to prioritising sustainability in all aspects of our work to create change in our communities.  

Fifty young people are taking part this year from Hawksmoor Primary School in Thamesmead, where the competition originally started. Their Year 6 teacher, Tazeem Akhtar, said: “Art offers children a special way of understanding and responding to the world. It think it’s incredibly important to develop their self-esteem and expression through the use of colour, texture, form, pattern and different materials and processes. This prize celebrates their individuality and enriches all our lives.”  

Peabody’s Director of Sustainability, Richard Ellis said: “The Young London Print Prize is a fantastic initiative. By giving children a platform to express what the climate crisis means to them, the exciting competition draws further attention to our fragile planet and the actions we must all take to protect its future. We encourage as many children as possible to take part this year and look forward to seeing their inspiring work.  

“We know through our own work just how important it is to listen to and work together with everyone in our communities to create a better future for all – especially those whose voices are not always heard. Along with other residents, young people have played a valuable role in shaping our new strategy to prioritise sustainability in all our work – from providing energy efficient homes to increasing biodiversity in open spaces, enabling residents to make greener choices to reducing our own reducing our carbon emissions, carefully managing waste to electrifying our vehicles, and more.”  

Commenting on behalf of London’s City Hall, the Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE said: “Art and culture have the power to shift perceptions, to allow us to see things in a new way, and help shine a light on the climate emergency. I am delighted that on the 50th Anniversary of World Environment Day so many young Londoners will be part of this year’s Print Prize competition, using their incredible creative talents to express their response to one of today’s biggest challenges - climate change.” 

The Prize is also backed by South London-born musician and performer, Love Ssega, whose latest work, PANGEA, explores climate change and social justice and premieres on 8 June on the Southbank. He said: “Young people are already ahead of us. They’re using the magic of artistic imagination to paint the greener future we need to create. Good luck to all the entrants!”  

This year’s winners will be announced on the full screen of the Piccadilly Lights at 12pm on Wednesday 25 October, before being displayed at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair from 26-29 October, alongside some of the world’s finest artists.   

The Young London Print Prize is run by Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, with support also from the Foundation for Future London, Landsec, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Boodle Hatfield LLP, Anthesis, Lefranc Bourgeois, and Forster Communications. For more information, please visit the website. If your school is interested in taking part in the Prize, please contact: 

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