The green on black sign was initially adopted by Alice White, Curator for Local Audiences at PEER in collaboration with Paul Fleming at the Hoxton Trust. The plan was to display the sign in the Hoxton Trust Community Garden throughout 2020. However, as a result of the disruption caused by the global pandemic, in November 2020 it was agreed to extend the adoption until the beginning of the 10th anniversary celebrations for the Early Warning Signs project in June 2021. The celebrations kicked-off with the sign travelling north to be re-united with two of the other signs - for the first time since the project began at Artsadmin in 2011 - at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
In June 2021 we, along with the Hoxton Trust said a fond farewell to Ellie Harrison's Early Warning Sign, which made its way onto the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
We started our guardianship of the sign back in January 2020. For us, it was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our neighbours down the road, the Hoxton Trust, who offer free legal advice to local people, as well as having a beautiful community garden, where their Gardener Stephen Mason is really committed to biodiversity. We are very mindful of the Hoxton context we work in, where many local residents live in flats and don't have access to gardens or outdoor space, whilst also living in a city context exposed to lots of traffic and harmful emissions. We envisaged mass gatherings with local climate activists, politicians and residents to discuss climate change, as well as running a programme of related workshops and events that perhaps more gently explored nature and the environment to those who may feel more isolated or alienated from dominant climate conversations.
Unfortunately, plans changed due to the pandemic and in Summer 2020 we decided to do something instead which could be shared with local people and beyond, and enabled space for ideas from the people we were working with, called Early Warning Signs Bulletin (download issues 1-5 below). Each monthly issue contained information about the environment, affordable art activities, plant based recipes suggested by PEER Ambassadors and local residents, and celebrated community-focused activity happening locally and beyond. It also featured fantastic plant tips from the wonderful Jane Heather. It enabled us to discover and share lots of new environmental references and projects including: The Colour Green Podcast, Walk Hackney, Plastic Free Hackney and Greener Hackney!
Fortunately we managed to do one in person shibori and natural dyeing workshop with Charlene Sandy which was brilliant! In 2021, the bulletin morphed into a Seasonal Zine which enabled more art and design opportunities for the Ambassadors during the lockdown period when they couldn't work in the gallery.
So all in all, the Early Warning Sign has encouraged us to be more resourceful not only in our environmental actions but with our thinking and realisation of the wonderful skills that exist between us, as well as the positives that can come out of working together. Excitingly, we will soon be announcing a series of Art in the Garden workshops across both Khadija's and Hoxton Trust Community Garden, which will hopefully realise our dream of doing things again, together in real life!
Early Warning Signs Bulletins
Main photo: Central Saint Martins Plural Futures Team at Hoxton Trust Community Garden on 13 January 2020 (Natascha Rimo)