Olley's helps school children shout about climate change from its rooftop

Commuters along one of South London’s busiest rail links have an ambitious new piece of public art to contemplate thanks to children from Christ Church Primary School SW9, who are drawing attention to the effects of climate change.

Sitting on the rooftop of local restaurant Olley's Fish Experience in Herne Hill, the 3 metre tall sculpture is made of salvaged wood and depicts a hand holding a pencil, drawing a red line that symbolises the threshold between life as we know it and irreversible global warming. A red line of fabric embellished with recycled flowers encircles the sculpture on the roof. 

The inspiration came from demonstrations at last year’s historic global climate change summit in Paris where huge red ribbons were held aloft over the heads of a moving procession of people to 'draw a line to protect our climate.'

The installation of the sculpture marks the beginning of a project measuring air pollution near to the school; the aim is to collect scientific data which can be used to engage with the local council about possible ways to improve air quality and to explore how communities can come together to help address climate change.

Every child in the school, from 4 to 11 years old, has contributed to creating this dynamic sculpture with their artist in residence Hannah Littlejones.

She explained: "This is about giving children an opportunity to make a large scale public art work to be a focal point for a dialogue about their environment, present and future." 

Harry Niazi, owner of Olley's Fish Experience in Herne Hill, adds: "It's great to see and hear that these school children care about their future and are aware about the impact climate change can have on their local environment in a way that we never did at their age. Olley's is very proud to be associated with the project and is keen to embrace their message.

"The sculpture is a so eye-catching and by installing it on the rooftop at Olley's means many more people will be able to see it, which will help spread the word."

Outdoor air pollution contributes to about 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, according to a 2016 report by the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health.

"Children can’t vote, but they are disproportionately affected by air pollution and climate change. We hope to inspire more families and schools to get active on one of the defining issues of our time," says collaborator Katy Obregon of Get Loud for the Climate.