Recently, 21-year-old Lauren Murray won a competition among art students at Coventry University. Her piece will be part of a mural project organized by C-ALPS (Coventry University’s Centre for Advanced Low Carbon Propulsion Systems) and the BA (Hons) Illustration courses to bring attention to the journey toward a low-carbon future. Congrats, Lauren!
About the art installation
About 15 entries were considered for the project. It was the first professional commission for Lauren Murray. Her piece is created to show the process behind creating hydrogen fuel cells.
C-ALPS voted on the winner. The mural will be put up in late 2022 at the C-ALPS laboratory to highlight future low-carbon technologies. The two runner-ups will also have their designed shown in the laboratory.
Interview with Lauren Murray
I had the opportunity to interview Lauren about the win, the environmental connection, and her love of art. Here is the interview:
What inspired you to create the artwork?
It’s funny looking back at the start of this experience because originally, I wasn’t going to participate. I was very apprehensive about the theme because I liked to work with my strengths which was drawing people and I had only gotten into drawing backgrounds the last few months of my degree.
When I did research into what C-ALPS did I thought ‘oh no cars’ – something I hadn’t drawn at all. But I’m glad I decided to challenge myself because I was able to get a lot of experience working with a client from sketching ideas to presenting the final concept.
Oh wow, you weren’t going to apply and now here you won the competition! Can you explain a bit about the mural, such as the design and artistic message?
Once C-ALPS had narrowed down a couple of students’ designs, I was able to redesign mine using their feedback and more of my own research. I found out how they made hydrogen fuel cells, and I got really interested in this idea of a journey through that process. It fit nicely with the landscape I had already sketched out so I just redrew the entire thing, being conscious of how it would be split up to be positioned on the walls and the key points in the making and use of hydrogen as a renewable fuel source.
From right to left, I illustrated wind turbines and solar panels to collect and convert energy into electricity. This is then used to create hydrogen fuel cells through electrolysis, where water and heat become biproducts (seen through the pump and water in the background of the piece). The hydrogen fuel cells are then transported to places where it’s stored to be used as fuel for electric vehicles which are seen throughout the design.
The piece is also designed to be viewed from right to left as this would be the way in which you’d walk past it in the corridor.
Lauren Murray’s artwork:
The art is fantastic! What is the mural’s environmental connection/purpose?
The piece is a journey of sorts on the process of creating a hydrogen fuel cell and what I feel is a blend of future ideas and current knowledge. But it’s also the journey we need to take to make sure we have a future.
When doing my research and looking up inspiration for a futurescape I saw a lot of imagery that excluded nature in favor of the world made of metal devoid of greenery and life. It hit me that those images are a striking truth to the path we are currently taking so I really wanted to bring back the aims of labs like C-ALPS and the environmentalists all the world and inject life into the future I was making because that’s what connects us. We all have the power to create our own ideal futures so why not do it together.
Have you always been interested in your carbon footprint/environmentalism?
I’ve always thought it was important to do what you can for the environment, but I think do so within your means. For example, I use public transportation because I feel that we should be moving towards having less fossil fuel cars on the roads, especially more so in cities.
Now don’t take this as me saying do the bare minimum because it isn’t, I just know that I used to feel bad for only doing so much especially when I was younger trying to navigate education and my ideas for the future. But if you can and want to do more, do it. Passion is the greatest fuel for change and growth, and I too want to do so much more once I’m more secure to do so.
That’s so wise what you say about change and growth. Lauren, who inspires you artistically, and why?
During the development of my work in the final term of university I got inspired by Lydia Hill’s work, especially a piece she did for the clothing brand Lucy and Yak. I love her line work and her colouring style reminds me of soft coloured prints.
While I personally prefer bold and bright colours, the charm I see in hers was something I wanted for my own work, so I aspired to develop my own unique charm. Sua Balac was also a big one for his bright colour palettes and clever concepts. I also really like his sense of humour that you see with his personal pieces as I too enjoyed doing the same through second and third year.
That and some shows like Ed Edd n Eddy and toys from my childhood like Betty Spaghetti make up a lot of the style and feeling of my work now. I like to make my work feel very emotive and fun because I want it to catch the eye and be something you can’t ignore. So, in effect I think my work is almost like a child in a sense – bright, colourful and quirky and 100% utter chaos, but that’s the way I like it.
Who inspires your environmentalism, and why?
No one really inspires me to do good for the planet I just know that if nothing good happens something bad will, so I always keep that in mind when I go about my day. That sounds so pessimistic now that I say it out loud, but I always find that this way of thinking makes me enthusiastic to do better.
My friend also got me thinking about the little things like recycling more during university. They were on top of it like a hawk and I realised how vigilant you must be with so many products and the little things that truly make rubbish recyclable or not.
Wishing Lauren Murray all the best
Lauren will no doubt inspire others who are thinking of pursuing their artistic dreams or wondering how to spread awareness for a greener planet. I’ll leave you with this quote from artist Lauren:
“I’m so happy I was able to end this chapter of my life with such a wonderful experience designing this mural and working with my peers at Coventry University. I can’t wait for all the things I have yet to accomplish, and I know that my experiences over the last three years have laid a strong foundation that I am ever so grateful for.”
Top Photo: Lauren Murray with Tony Smith, Laboratory Manager at C-ALPS. Photo courtesy of Coventry University