Make It Green

Craft at COP26

Mella Shaw / Photography by Shannon Tofts

Mella Shaw / Photography by Shannon Tofts

Scotland's largest city Glasgow is hosting the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, from Sunday 31 October to Friday 12 November 2021.

The COP (Conference of the Parties) is the UN global climate summit, where nations from across the globe meet to work together on tackling the climate crisis. World leaders, government representatives, climate experts and campaigners, will meet for twelve days of talks. 

Alongside the COP26 official talks, many individuals and organisations across the country are organising events to foster discussion and engage audiences with the challenges of climate change and the themes of COP26.  

We round up 7 events (online and in-person) that are exploring the climate emergency from a craft perspective, and look at how makers and practitioners in Scotland can address the climate emergency in their work and communities. 

Plus, read on for more sustainable contemporary craft initiatives to explore with resources and links. 



Circular Ceramics in the Round at The Dear Green Bothy  

Led by Glasgow University’s College of Arts, The Dear Green Bothy is a programme of free public events exploring the vital role of arts and humanities in understanding and addressing the climate crisis.  

The project was designed as an open space where researchers, artists and communities can meet to respond creatively and critically to the challenges of the climate emergency.  

Part of the online programme, watch a recording of Circular Ceramics in the Round, a discussion with explored innovations in the material of ceramics within the context of the Circular Economy.  

The event, which originally took place online on Tuesday 12 October 2021, features a conversation between Mella Shaw, ceramicist and curator of Fife Contemporary’s upcoming exhibition “REsolve: A Creative Approach to the Circular Economy”, and two of the exhibiting makers, Sara Howard and Carol Sinclair.  

It was facilitated by the use of the new Wolfvision visualiser at the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow. The visualiser is a high-performance imaging camera system, which allows online event providers to present delicate 3D items, such as craft objects, on-screen in real-time with a high-quality visual. This tool gives the online audience to “Circula Ceramics in the Round” the opportunity to experience the ceramic objects discussed in detail, in a similar way as they would be able to in person. 

Explore all upcoming and online events, and streaming videos on deargreenbothy.gla.ac.uk.


Designing for the Climate: Circular Economy with Ostrero at the National Museum of Scotland 

“Stop wasting plastic. Help the world with climate change. Stop cutting down trees. Save the animals.” Ella C, Ella L, Elsie, P3  

As part of COP26, the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh presents a new display of Ostrero’s Making Circles project.  

In “Designing for the Climate: Circular Economy”, young people across Scotland have been designing, creating and inspiring others about how to design out waste and create a circular system that works for people, wildlife and the planet.  

This online display is based on Ostrero’s ongoing Making Circles project. Making Circles is a series of workshops taking place in schools with pupils from P2 to S3, which aims to engage children with the Circular Economy.  

Run by Ostrero with visiting makers, the workshops include an introduction to the Circular Economy followed by a half-day session in which children work in groups to design something along with circular principles. 

In previous workshops, both online and in-person prior to the pandemic, pupils worked with silversmith Bryony Knox and ceramicist Mella Shaw. Design prompts for the pupils include transforming waste to value, being inspired by nature, multi-functional items, and considering objects powered by renewable energy. 

Visit the online display at ww.nms.ac.uk/circular-economy and read Craft Scotland's interview with Ostrero co-founder Mary Michel

Fashion Open Studios at COP26 

As part of COP26, Fashion Open Studios is organising a collaborative project across Glasgow running from Friday 5 November to Thursday 11 November 2021, and which will bring together the solutions imagined by nine international designers in response to the COP26 themes of Nature and Adaptation & Resilience.  

Part of these events taking place in Glasgow, discover the mosaic technique used by Vimbai Natasha Naomi to restore cotton fabric from Zimbabwe in “RESTORATION performance and workshop” (Bawn Textiles, 7 Nov 2021). 

Join Aranya Craft and Rahemur Rahman to learn more about their unique patchwork technique in “Patching stories through stitches” (Govanhill Baths, 7 Nov 2021). 

Fashion Open Studios was launched in 2017 by Fashion Revolution, as a week of presentations, talks and workshops with designers, from emerging creators to major players in fashion today. The event aimed to celebrate the people and processes behind the making of our clothes, and create a space for honest conversation, transparency and accountability.  

Typically taking place across Fashion Revolution Week in April, it has moved online due to the pandemic. Catch-up on their events, now available to watch on the Fashion Revolution youtube channel



Design for the Planet Festival with the Design Council and V&A Dundee 

Taking place online across two days on Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 November, the Design for the Planet Festival will explore sustainability and design with two days of keynotes, debates and panel discussions, interactive workshops and masterclass. 

This festival is a landmark event aiming to galvanise the UK’s design industry and community towards commitment to a sustainable, climate-first future. You will hear from visionaries across the sector leading the way in sustainability and climate-action, and learn more about prioritising the welfare of the planet within work.  

The programme includes an opening keynote from Anita Okunde, Climate Activist, and a closing keynote from Dr Jane Davidson, former Welsh Minister of Future Generations.

Events will include panel discussion on the Circular Economy, and workshops such as “Waste is a Design Flaw with Ella Doran and Sophie Thomas of URGE” and “Sustainable materials with Chris Lefteri of Faber Futures”. 

View the festival agenda and register to attend online for free. 

The event is hosted by the V&A Dundee in partnership with the Design Council. Visit www.designforplanet.org 


Creative Carbon’s Climate Friendly Culture Workshops 

Creative Carbon Scotland are inviting cultural organisations and individual artists/makers to test ideas and prototypes for a digital tool with the aim to support sustainable culture.  

This series of workshops will introduce the key concepts of a digital tool in the early stages of design and use visual prototypes to get feedback on what users need from a digital tool to support environmentally sound creative work. Participants are invited from a range of cultural organisations of all sizes and across a specified range of art forms.  

Workshops will take place between Monday 8 November and Thursday 18 of November 2021, each focusing on a specific art form. You can view all workshops and register at www.creativecarbonscotland.com.

Climate Friendly Culture is a development project led by Caro Overy working in partnership with Creative Carbon Scotland and developers inGenerator

It aims to learn about how the creative community addresses the climate emergency with a view to developing a digital tool to support this and is supported through the Creative Informatics Resident Entrepreneur programme


Loving Earth Project: Textile Panel Workshops at the Scottish Maritime Museum 

 The Loving Earth Project celebrates people, places and creatures that are threatened by growing environmental breakdown. The Loving Earth Project is an ongoing and global community project focused on textiles. Exhibitions, events and workshops will engage participants and viewers creatively and constructively with the issues of the climate crisis in a collaborative way. 

The Scottish Maritime Museum, Dumbarton, is hosting an exhibition of a selection of textile panels. These touching and celebratory panels have been created by people worldwide, in countries including Scotland, France and Uganda. The panels highlight different climate issues and ask those making and viewing the work to consider how we use the Earth’s resources, how we can help improve the situation and be advocates for change.  

The exhibition in Dumbarton will include 60 of the 500+ textile panels, with another selection on display in Glasgow during COP26.  

The exhibition in Dumbarton will be accompanied by a series of Textile Panel Workshops, in which participants will be invited to create their own textiles panel. These workshops are open to all levels and facilitators will provide as much guidance as needed to start your own textile panel. Participants will be able to take their textile panel home, or it can become part of the exhibition at the Scottish Maritime Museum Dumbarton as part of The Loving Earth Project exhibition. 

See workshops dates and book at www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org.  


Culture at COP 

The Culture at COP website will showcase all COP26 events related art, culture and heritage, both online and in-person. It has been designed to link to the COP26 themes and key COP26 Policy Issues as identified by the Climate Heritage Network.  

The website will also build cultural engagement in climate action, support policy engagement and opportunity to engage with the Culture at COP’s manifesto, and represent and advocate for the global climate, cultural & heritage sectors. It is designed to be dynamic, inclusive and accessible and to communicate the ambition, relevance and influence of culture and heritage of climate change. 

Read the Culture of COP’s manifesto, Accelerating Climate Action through the Power of Arts, Culture and Heritage, or browse culture events at COP26 at www.cultureatcop.com 



Green Crafts Initiative

In 2014, we launched the Green Crafts Initiative, a sister project to the Green Arts Initiative in partnership with Creative Carbon Scotland. The Green Crafts Initiative celebrates and encourages environmentally sustainable practices in the Scottish craft sector. Read about our resources and how to take the pledge


Make It Green - Interview Series

You can also explore our Make It Green interview series on the Craft Journal. A collection of interviews with makers about their sustainable practice, tips and guidance for being more environmentally friendly in your practice. 

Textiles artist Joanne B Kaar tells us how solving the mystery of how Uist crofter Angus MacPhee made his grass garments resurrected sustainable methods, and jewellery designer Stefanie Ying Lin Cheong about sourcing sustainable materials for jewellery in Scotland



More Ethical Making & Sustainable-Focused Craft Initiatives and Resources:  

  • Climate Fringe COP26: a home for events of all kinds in the run-up to, and during, COP26, 

  • Climate Crisis Film Festival: a platform for eye-opening cinema providing a systemic perspective behind the human stories of climate change, 

  • Season for Change: a UK-wide cultural programme inspiring urgent and inclusive action on climate change. 

  • CAN: Circular Arts Network: An online sharing website for artists, technicians, theatre-makers and craftspeople, developed in partnership with Scottish Contemporary Art Network. 



COP26 is taking place in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October to Friday 12 November 2021.

Visit ukcop26.org for all information on the conference. 


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