Thousands of children create biggest ever digital artwork inspired by animals in museum collections

Art Fund in partnership with WWF, the RSPB, English Heritage and National Trust, will unveil The Wild Escape on Earth Day, Saturday 22 April, working with 524 museums from across the UK to highlight the nation’s biodiversity loss.

This will be the culmination of the biggest ever UK museums collaboration, with thousands of children participating in hundreds of events across every nation over the Earth Day weekend (22/23 April). The Wild Escape is one of the largest museum projects ever funded by Arts Council England.

Museums in Wales participating in The Wild Escape include National Museum Cardiff, Tŷ Pawb, Mid Wales Arts, Swansea Museum, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Greenfield Valley and Picton Castle and Gardens.

Children and families across Wales have also been participating in activities linked to the environment throughout the Easter holidays to both celebrate Wales’ biodiversity and to build awareness within the younger generations of the threat to its natural environment. Tŷ Pawb, shortlisted Museum of the Year 2022, in Wrexham has been running craft workshops with local artists focusing on endangered species in Wales, including red squirrels, native butterflies and turtle doves. Families and community groups are being invited to Tŷ Pawb on Earth Day to contribute to a beautiful butterfly installation as a reminder to protect Wales’ native butterfly species.

As a highlight of The Wild Escape, Art Fund are releasing an epic-scale digital landscape: an imaginary world specially commissioned from BAFTA winning games studio, PRELOADED, which features images of animals created by children – the largest ever artwork made with children. Children can upload their own animals, sharing their creations with the world until June 2023 by logging in on www.thewildescape.org.uk

Leading British artists have joined The Wild Escape campaign including Rana Begum, Elizabeth Butterworth, Monster Chetwynd, Jeremy Deller, Es Devlin, Andy Holden, Lindsey Mendick, Heather Phillipson, Thomas J Price, Mollie Ray, Tai Shani, Yinka Shonibare, Bob and Roberta Smith, FKA Twigs and Mark Wallinger, each contributing their own interpretation artworks of animals in museum collections.

Special Wild Escape family events will be taking place over the weekend of Earth Day in museums across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to encourage children to create their own animal artworks to upload into this newly imagined digital landscape, including nature trails, wildflower plantings, curated museum tours, artist-led activities, animal sculpture and puppet workshops, animal art demonstrations and parades, storytelling and bird watching, all inspired by their collections.

Families can also visit the National Trust’s 500 plus properties to find inspiration. Using the houses and buildings, gardens and grounds, open spaces and countryside, and extensive collections, visitors can find animals inside and outside to help them create their animal art.

The Wild Escape is made possible with support from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants, with additional support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kusuma Trust, Foyle Foundation and a group of generous individuals and trusts.

Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund, said:
“The Wild Escape is a real demonstration of the power of our museums to work together for the benefit of their communities. Beyond the bricks and mortar of buildings, The Wild Escape sheds new light on the stories told by our world famous collections, and shows how relevant and vital these stories are. Never has there been a more important time for all of us to campaign for and protect our precious wildlife.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:
“We’re passionate about supporting young people of all ages to be creative, no matter where they live, where they go to school and where they spend their free time. That’s why I’m proud to have supported the ambitious Wild Escape project with a National Lottery Project Grant of £890,000 – the largest we’ve ever given to a museums project.”

“The Wild Escape makes us see our nation’s collections in a new way that highlights the importance of the UK’s wildlife and shows how museums can help inspire creative action to tackle the climate crisis. I look forward to visiting Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Earth Day to see first-hand the impact this UK-wide project has had locally on children and young people.”

Jo Marsh, Tŷ Pawb Creative Director, said,
“As an arts organisation with a significant following of families and young people, we believe it is important to utilise the arts as a force for good in our local community, and provide a platform for discussion and education around societal issues, including the environment, climate change and biodiversity. The Wild Escape has enabled children and their families to engage with these issues through an inspiring programme of activities. These goals are harmonious with the core theme of our arts programme for this year – entitled ‘Growing Together’ – so, for us, the opportunity to be part of this significant national campaign has been hugely rewarding.”

Artist Bob and Roberta Smith, said:
“I am so glad to be involved in the Wild Escape. I grew up in North Yorkshire where many of these animals, now under threat, were part of my childhood. I believe children can become advocates for our natural world via the arts. The Art Fund’s work to encourage these encounters through museums is so important.”

The Wild Escape is funded through Unlocking Collections, a Time Limited Priority within National Lottery Project Grants, aimed at enabling museums to develop their collections-based work and increase public engagement with, and use of, their collections. The £890,000 award for the project is the largest ever museums Project Grant award and will enable Arts Council funding to benefit numerous museums in England.

The Wild Escape is inspired by BBC One’s major TV series Wild Isles which celebrates the wonders of British wildlife, presented by Sir David Attenborough, and co-produced by the RSPB, WWF and The Open University.

The collective digital artwork can be accessed via thewildescape.org.uk, and will go live to the public for young people to upload their animal artworks from 10am, Thursday 20 April.

www.thewildescape.org.uk
#thewildescape

Children take part in a bird collage workshop at Ty Pawb, Wrexham as part of The Wild Escape.
Photo by Dilantha Dissanayake/PA Wire.

Watch the video trailer here: https://vimeo.com/791990519/184b8cb541

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