Henny Beaumont explains the ideas and process behind her climate-themed artwork for The Author's Spring 2020 issue
Your illustrations for this issue carry powerful messages about the environment. What was the inspiration for your cover design?
The cover illustration [pictured right] was inspired by the Second World War Ministry of Information posters by Abram Games and Hans Schleger. Their designs were a response to the immediate dangers of the war, but feel very relevant today: about valuing our resources and using what we have sparingly.
For the cover I wanted to produce an image that was a warning, but also hopeful. A celebration of creativity and the imagination in the face of the imminent catastrophe that climate change represents. I wanted to capture the threat we are facing and, at the same time, show that writers and artists have a role to play, that they can have a positive impact on the way we think about climate change, and that we can be inspired to alter our behaviour.
Much of your art focuses on the environment and politics – and both at the same time. Why is it important for you to engage with climate change?
It’s difficult to ignore it, with unprecedented record temperatures each month, floods here in the UK, and fires in the Amazon and Australia.
Making art is my way of doing something in response to my fear and anxiety about the future. I channel my anger around politics into colour and composition and I try and use humour to flip a situation on its head.
Above: Henny's illustrations for The Author's Spring 2020 issue
You’re an artist in residence for Poets for the Planet. How do you think writers and artists can do their bit for the planet? Why should they?
I do what I’m good at doing and what I can do. I use my drawing skills for Poets for the Planet, recording meetings and events in order to help publicise their work. I do it selfishly because I love poetry, but also because I think it makes a difference. Poetry makes people feel things intensely. Poems can make people feel the pain of loss; they make us aware of what we have, what is at stake and what we are in danger of losing.
I’m not really in the business of telling people what they should do, there’s enough information out there already about what we should do to preserve our planet. For me, it’s more a question of what can you do? And if we’re talking about writers and artists: write, make art, do what you’re good at. Make people feel the danger and the loss, make people fall in love with our natural habitats, and make people feel that they can have a positive impact on climate change.
Henny Beaumont is a graphic novelist, freelance illustrator and political cartoonist. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, BBC, Counsel, Prospect, and many other publications. www.hennybeaumont.com
Originally published in Spring 2020 issue of The Author