Find out how Freya Cohen's Get Creative project 'Solitary' came to life

Grow Wild has awarded funding to young people to produce creative projects inspired by wild flowers, plants and pollinators. These projects will be exhibited at a youth takeover event at Edinburgh's iconic Summerhall from 24 June - 9 July. One of the innovative projects on display will be Freya Cohen's piece, Solitary. Grow Wild Content Editor Abby Moss caught up with Freya to find out more... 

Freya Cohen began painting a year ago as a therapeutic distraction from the demands of university. The appearance of her work, Solitary, at Summerhall in Edinburgh, will be the first time Freya’s art work has been exhibited.

Back in April, Freya began her project during a bustling weekend at the Bristol Botanic Garden’s Sculpture Festival, her plan was to paint outdoors, getting the public involved by encouraging them to paint their own wild flower on a huge roll of paper – building up into a massive collaborative meadow. Meanwhile, Freya would work on her fine art paintings of solitary bees. The weekend was so busy, and so many people wanted to paint a flower and chat to Freya, that she barely had time to finish her bees.

“The Gardens said they had over 5000 people over the four days of the festival.” Freya tells me “There was one elderly lady in a wheelchair. She hadn’t done any art for years and years, but I gave her a clipboard and she got involved too. It was great to see so many people there.”

As a Biology student, the plight of native plants and pollinators is close to Freya’s heart; “I wanted to do something fun with this project, but something that would also give me a chance to talk to people about the problems pollinators face and why it’s so important to protect them” she explained. “That’s why I chose solitary bees. A lot of people don’t know about them, so I wanted to find a way to show their diversity and beauty.”

Her paintings are made from spray paint and acrylic, on cardboard. “I wanted to use cardboard to create a pro-recycling message. But also to say something about the fragility of ecosystems. We have to treat them with care, or they easily get damaged, just like the cardboard that the painting are on is easily damaged.”

When she’s not painting or cramming for exams, Freya relaxes with the university’s gardening club. “There are about 15 people who come to the club now,” she says “I just wanted people to have a way to spend some time outside. To get out of the library for a while!”

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