Speaking truth to power: pupil’s climate change plea displayed on London mural as world leaders meet for COP28

Speaking truth to power: pupil’s climate change plea displayed on London mural as world leaders meet for COP28

Year 8 pupil’s Aaryan Prabhaker’s entry in a climate art competition run by Imperial College London has been transformed into a mural on display close to the revamped Battersea Power Station.

Colours for the Climate, Aaryan’s design for the Grantham Climate Art Prize competition, calls on people to reduce their meat and dairy intake, and to eat more plant-based foods.

This year’s COP28, the 28th annual UN climate meeting currently taking place in Dubai, has a focus on food and agriculture, amid considerable debate about the role of the livestock industry in producing greenhouse gases.

Aaryan’s is the second major QE success in the competition: Year 9 pupil Kelvin Chen, a runner-up in the 11-14 age category, saw his artwork showcased on billboards in London last month in the lead-up to COP28.

Head of Art Craig Wheatley said: “My congratulations go to Aaryan on making the most of the opportunity to enter the competition and on producing such a strong piece of work. After first impressing the judges, his artwork, with its strong message, is now grabbing attention from thousands on the streets of the capital.”

The boys were encouraged to enter the biennial competition by Art teacher Jeanne Nicodemus. Imperial’s Grantham Institute, which is a research centre for climate change and the environment, challenged entrants aged 11-25 to create bold designs for outdoor public murals focused on the solutions needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Competition entrants were asked to seek inspiration from the institute’s Nine things you can do about climate change list: number 2 on the list is ‘eat less meat and dairy’. The competition attracted more than 1,000 entries.

Aaryan’s design in the 11-14 age group was highly commended and was selected to be a mural at Pump House Lane, Nine Elms, where there is an exhibition of the artwork of the competition winners and runners-up. With Octopus Energy sponsoring the main competition, the Grantham Institute secured separate funding for this project from property developer Ballymore.

Aaryan’s artwork, which features a range of fruit and vegetables, was painted as a mural by artists Karla Rosales Garcia and Roger Rigol.

He and his parents, Amieya Prabhaker and Shalini Varma, attended an unveiling of the mural, where they met the sponsors as well as representatives of the competition organisers.

In a note to the School, Mr Prabhaker and Dr Varma said: “We would like to express our thanks to the teachers at QE, especially Ms Nicodemus and Mr Wheatley, who have inspired the creativity amongst the boys and guided them at each step.”

  • Click on the thumbnail images below to see Aaryan’s artwork displayed in full.