How to create a climate action mural: Meet art prize winner, Julia de Korab Skulska

Julia de Korab Skulska at this year’s Great Exhibition Road Festival climate action mural workshop

Julia de Korab Skulska, a second year biology student at Imperial, was one of the winners of the Grantham Institute Climate Art Prize in 2021. Her design went on to become a large scale mural in Brighton. In this blog, we ask her about why she thinks the art prize is important and she tells us all about helping out at the climate mural workshops at this year’s Great Exhibition Road Festival.

Hi Julia. When and why did you get interested in art and the environment?

I’ve always been interested in art, and when I found out about the Grantham Climate Art Prize, I thought it was a really good idea to link art, science and the environment. Not everyone will be that interested in science, but if you put an artistic spin on it, it is more universal, and more people will be engaged with trying to help out with climate change.

Tell me about your mural design and the inspiration behind it?

My mural design was the one for Brighton. The theme for the murals in 2021 was endangered species in the area. Some people prefer plants, some people prefer animals, so I thought if I included both it would draw more people in and raise more awareness. My mural design was a net of someone fishing plastic out of the sea. It was near the sea bottom so there was kelp and sea horses and different animals and plants that are present in Brighton.

Julia’s winning design, painted by mural artist Charlie Rallings

What was it like to see photos of your drawing as a huge mural?

It was amazing, I drew it in A3 so to then to see as a huge mural was fantastic.

Are you hoping to get involved in more creative and climate related projects in the future and if so what sorts of thing?

I recently volunteered at the Great Exhibition Road festival at the ‘design a climate action mural’ workshop. I think art speaks to more people as it is a visual form, which is why murals are a good idea for encouraging more people to take action. If I get the chance, I would like to try for the mural again this year, as it is open until September.

Julia by the climate action mural poster at this year’s Great Exhibition Road Festival

What have you enjoyed most or found the most interesting about being involved in the workshops this year?

The workshop has had a lot of people coming in and it is really nice that so many young people are interested in taking action to help the future environment. With this year’s theme of ‘Palette for the Planet’ and trying to create a greener future, it is a positive outlook and associated with a positive future, which I think is more motivating.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share for anyone thinking about entering this year?

I think just go for it. Even if you don’t win, you can still share that design with family and friends and even if you just get a few people inspired, that is always a huge step for the future. Even if it is not painted on a huge mural where loads of people see it, you could still be inspiring other people to take action. 

Julia helping young people with their artworks

Why do you think art is an important way to communicate about the climate crisis?

I think art is a universal language so anybody is going to understand a mural or a key message you are trying to convey. If you try and teach all the scientific facts they might not understand everything at once or be as interested. With the workshops at the festival, so many of the children who came were interested in the art aspect. I feel like it is engaging a lot of the younger generation, who are going to be the ones to live in the future planet, so they are going to want to have a cleaner, greener future. Art is a really good way of inspiring them to take part.

The Grantham Institute’s Professor Joeri Rogelj and Professor Ralf Toumi chatting to young people about their drawings at the workshop

The Grantham Climate Art Prize is open to submissions, from people aged 11-25, until 15 September. This years theme is ‘Palette for the Planet: a greener, cleaner, cooler future’ and looks at how climate action can ensure a more sustainable future world. The Grantham Institute Climate Action hub, including the popular 9 things you can do about climate change, is useful for inspiration. You can also listen to the Grantham Institute’s Linsey Wynton telling Imperial podcast host Gareth Mitchell all about it here

To keep up-to-date with research activities at the Grantham Institute, receive invites to our events and find out about our latest publications, join our mailing list

Leave a Reply