Colour & activism

Yellow and the #CanaryCraftivists climate change campaign

Colour has long played a role in activism and this summer it was the turn of yellow to became the focal colour of the new campaign by Craftivist Collective - #CanaryCraftivists. ‘Craftivists’ use handmade crafts as their form of activism,  and this particular campaign focused on climate change.

About the campaign

Ahead of COP26, the UN Climate Change convention which takes place in Scotland in November, crafters and makers across the UK were encouraged to make a handmade ‘canary’ to send to their MP along with a handwritten note explaining that they care about climate change and they want their MP to tell the Prime Minister to act quickly to prevent any further pain to our planet.

Why canaries?

Canaries were chosen as the symbol of the campaign due to their history of being a bird that has helped humans. Canaries were sent down the mines with coal miners but when the air became to toxic they would warn the miners so they knew it was time to get out – they are a bird that understood what clean air felt like and they were also bright yellow!

Yellow crafting

The handmade canaries (sent to MPs on September 8th 2021) were made by individuals and groups from scrap yellow fabrics, upcycled yellow clothing and other yellow crafts supplies. Small ‘flocks’ of crafters met up throughout the summer to create their handmade birds and they too were dressed in yellow, as canaries in yellow, to help get the conversation about climate change started with public who saw them.

The benefits of yellow in activism

Yellow is a power colour in activism because it’s naturally uplifting. When we think of yellow, bright sunny days spring to mind and just like the sun fills the sky with light helping us see can see more clearly yellow can unblock energies which may have got trapped when the weather is grey. It revitalises us, fuels us and promotes where handmade crafts are used for activism. But not all yellow are appropriate, neons for example are too vivid for a gentle protest, pastel yellows are too muted and may go unnoticed, darker shades like butterscotch on the other hand are perfect.

You can find out more about colour and aesthetics and activism in an interview I did with Sarah Corbett, Founder of Craftivist Collective over on their IGTV where I shared my thoughts on why presentation, colour, fonts, details and décor all matter when it comes to creative activism.

Images: Liz Seabrook / Craftivist Collective