Net Zero Visions – Plymouth Methodist Central Hall Mural
A positive vision for Plymouth, in collaboration with Devon Climate Emergency
Net Zero Visions is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Dr David Sergeant (principle investigator) and Dr Emma Whittaker (co-investigator) at University of Plymouth, in collaboration with Devon Climate Emergency. Its mission to create a resilient, net-zero Devon where people and nature thrive. It is rooted in the idea that we cannot achieve change unless we also try to imagine it; and that imagining it can raise a wider awareness of what is at stake and encourage action. Acclaimed professionals in animation, illustration, interactive games, and public murals are currently working with communities to produce positive ‘Visions’ of locations across Devon as carbon net-zero in 2050. However, this imaginative effort is also open to everyone.
The mural’s augmented reality experience was created by University of Plymouth, MA 3D Design graduate Ian Kok Saw and is available by scanning the QR code at the mural.
The Net Zero Visions mural for Plymouth Methodist Central Hall sits in a prominent position by Drake’s Circus, and was painted over the late summer of 2022. It was designed by Jessica Mallory University of Plymouth BA (Hons) Illustration graduate, lead artist Dr Kate Crawfurd, and painted by Jessica Mallory and Eleanor Croker BA (Hons) Illustration graduates. Kate and Jessica worked closely with Plymouth Methodist Central Hall in developing the mural design.
Hear from the lead artist
Kate, the lead artist, had this to say about the PMCH mural:
This mural was designed through discussions with the Methodist church members and Plymouth community. The church sits next to Drake’s Circus, opposite the University of Plymouth and it was important to its members that the mural reflected their position in the heart of the city, surrounded by youthful energy, and as a community that embrace changes and has strong environmental values.
In the mural the church is seen with greened walls and roofs, solar panels, and geo domes for growing plants and heat control; the university beyond also has green walls and a geo dome. An electric bus and safe cycle path reduce traffic on the streets – such a network would massively reduce carbon emissions and benefit mental and physical health. The community group was keen to see streets where children could play safely.
The tree of life is a key symbol within the church and we took this further with the planting of a small sapling by the larger tree. The spade shows that this is a conscious human action, that we can restore nature and that we need to act. The longevity of trees was an important idea: some of today’s trees sprouted before the industrial revolution and will live on through our changing world to 2100 and beyond. They are obviously also vital for carbon capture.
A beehive nestles behind the tree, reflecting how we can improve the environment for pollinators and protect biodiversity. We have an excellent climate for agriculture here in the South West, and eating local produce – of the kind seen at the base of the mural – as much as possible would reduce transport emissions and waste.
The ocean and Tamar estuary are strong and beautiful influences in Plymouth, and could be used for leisure, transport and energy. We initially included wind and wave but felt at that point the design was becoming too cluttered!
There is a calmness to the people depicted in the mural, they are enjoying getting around using their own power. This contrasts with the usual rush of people shopping, the din and fume of petrol engines. Is it possible for us to slow down? It would certainly benefit the environment.
Finally, the dove and lighthouse are symbols of hope, both natural and manmade. The mural’s cheery brightness hopefully communicates a taste of the Plymouth we could live in if we embrace positive change.