The Earth Issue Meets CRAWL ARTS
As a collective of Environmentally focused artists/creatives, The Earth Issue continues to investigate art as a form of communicating ideas, and harnessing forms of social commentary that speak to our contemporary image culture. CRAWL ARTS is an emerging London based platform, which looks at utilising art and education to engage with local environmental issues.
I meet Artist, writer and Founder of CRAWL ARTS Gabi Gershuny, alongside assistant Sophia Nicolov for Coffee and a chat. Amongst the hustle and bustle of clanging coffee cups, and a pretty invigorating playlist of techno laced tunes, we chat casually about our encounters with the environmental art landscape, and delve into the legs of CRAWL.
“I’ve just found with a lot of people from our generation to be already set in their ways, they’ll engage openly with the discussion. They agree, but the actual act of implementing the changes, or changing mentality doesn't register”, responds Gabi as we chat about peers, and their engagement with environmental issues. Both are recent Bristol graduates. Gabi studied Fine Arts, which journeyed her right to the heart of the commercial art world. Assisting at Sotheby's, she grew disillusioned to the auction trade art market, and its treatment of artworks merely for profit investment. “It’s a factory arm for art, they take a piece of art, squeeze it for every penny it’s worth, then move onto the next…”. Friend and fellow CRAWLER, Sophia recently completed a Research Masters degree in Animal History, and similarly was finding her work to be isolating and self-containing. CRAWLS ARTS came into being at the beginning of this year; as an “active” clothing range of responsibly sourced hand embroidered t-shirts.
Now coming up to their 6-month milestone, CRAWL ARTS has since metamorphosed into a fully accredited educational programme, using creativity to encourage environmental consciousness amongst the younger generations. With the aim of engaging young students with their local urban wildlife and its deteriorating biodiversity, SCHOOL OF CRAWL has seen them hosting outdoor, and indoor activity sessions with the students at a school in West London. Using creative outputs like T-shirt designing, the children were sewing, printing, sticking and gluing their way into art-focused activism. Better still, the students were able to wear their own stories, which would later be dispersed across the community: “We could have got the kids to write short essays about how Biodiversity is disappearing, and they would have all written the same thing. But the T-shirts are so beautifully unique, and personal. Children are so creative, and their respond to producing art. And it’s something that’s stamped out us for so long,” Sophia pertinently put.
THE MEANING BEHIND CRAWL:
Gabi: My original idea behind CRAWL was that is a democratising platform. It’s something that we all as humans start off by doing, it’s our first action on Earth, and is synonymous with animals. CRAWL has got this connotation of Slow activism. “Change doesn't just happen as an immediate revolution, it has to be a gradual, fundamental change. The last tangent behind the name, which really threw me but confirmed that Crawl was fated, the word Crawl has biblical connotations, it originates from a section in the OLD TESTAMENT. It was the sentiment that ‘’all living things which Crawl on the Earth”, which is where our instagram handle, @allthingsthatcrawl came from.
Sophia: The thing about Slow activism, is that it inspires these very basic, and fundamental changes, that will eventually be permanent. “And with fundamental change, it doesn't just happen overnight, if you target certain industries, or target certain ways of thinking. It can’t just be immediate”
CLOTHING TO TELL STORIES:
Gabi: “I was learning embroidery in Guatemala. Most of their traditional clothing is embroidered with really beautiful images, that tell stories about their cultural and natural history. I wanted to tap into using the power of clothing, to weave our stories into them. It’s a roots level system change, a change in your way of thinking. The value that we imbue climate change with is inextricably connected to how we value investing in the future generations. I decided to look to school kids specifically, and for them to focus on what was around us, and for them to be able to tell their own stories”
SCHOOL OF CRAWL:
Collaborating with Thomas’s London Day School, in Kensington, CRAWL ARTS ran a weeklong programme from the 21st – 28th April. Designed to teach students about the local biodiversity surrounding their schools, with the aim of broaching wider issues of biodiversity. The students were able to discover the urban wildlife in their local park, as well as design and print their own t-shirts
Gabi: “We took the kids to Hyde Park, we were looking at how our activities affect the local wildlife in the park. We were trying to inspire them, and show them how much variety was there, hidden in the park. We wanted to celebrate it. It was about them having a chance to reflect, and absorb what was around them”
Sophia: “What was important to us was getting them out there. Seeing how they reacted to the environment was key for both of us. It engaged them, just that little bit more. Which came out in their t-shirts. One little boy was in the mud, rubbing it all over his page, with leaves and I was like “you go for it, do you thing”. It was about seeing their response.”
Gabi: “With the T-shirts, you're looking at so many different responses, and styles and little minds but it does make up a really diverse spectrum of the wildlife that's specific to a locality, this like big portrait of Hyde Park wildlife, seen through these little eyes.”
Sophia continues: ‘’And that was by getting them to produce their own upcycled t-shirt’s and create their own images. Art is like so individual, and so unique. Every t-shirt they produced was unique. All the kids produced something of quality.”
CRAWL also forms a collaborative blog to share and connect with other environmental led creative initiatives out there. There is clearly a lot of synergy between, The Earth Issue and CRAWL ARTS. And we envision a collaboration to be on the horizons.