Sculptor Penny Hardy is using her climate crisis-inspired art to help create change, and raise £100,000 for charity, writes Becky Millington

Penny Hardy has been honing her craft here in Devon for 25 years. From her workshop in Newton Ferrers near Plymouth, she uses scrap metal and recycled parts from cars and machinery to create energetic, emotive figures. Her pieces have gained international acclaim and are located all over the world, but her latest sculpture is right here in Devon - and it’s awaiting both a name, and a new home.  

Penny’s creation, which has the working title, A Sculpture for the Children of Conflict and Climate Change, is a four-figure piece made to raise funds for the charity UNICEF. Penny is asking people to donate to the charity and suggest a name for the sculpture, along with a short descriptive phrase. The name will be integrated into the finished piece to complete it.  

Great British Life: Penny working on a sculpture in her studioPenny working on a sculpture in her studio (Image: Susan Brown)

Penny will select a shortlist of 15 titles and Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, will select the winner. The person with the winning name gets to keep the sculpture and can choose a location to display it, be it in their own garden or gifted to a community garden, project, centre or public space.  

The idea for the sculpture came from Penny’s need to express her deep concern about the climate crisis, seeing how it was affecting the animals and people of this world.  

‘I wanted to make a piece to respond to my concept that we are blowing away our children’s futures with our actions towards the planet,’ she says.  

‘Sculpture is an extension of myself. It’s a very tactile medium that offers the chance to create a dynamic energy in forms that can come alive with the thoughts and emotions you wish to convey to the viewer, or to express yourself. I decided I wanted to create something that shows adults are ignoring the voices of children.’  

Great British Life: The life-sized Sculpture for Change consists of two children and two adult figuresThe life-sized Sculpture for Change consists of two children and two adult figures (Image: Thomas Moran)

This concept became all the more poignant with Greta Thunberg’s environmental protests, a young person making her voice heard by those with the power to change their actions.  

After the disappointing outcome from COP26, hosted in Glasgow, Penny knew the sculpture needed to come sooner rather than later. She began in earnest in January 2022, but the following months saw war break out in Ukraine, and long-term conflicts still worsening across the globe. She realised that the sculpture needed to do more than just send a message, it had to inspire action and raise much-needed funds.  

‘Over the last few years we have seen how the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and now Ukraine have endangered children, their safety, human-rights, health and wellbeing,’ says Penny.  

Great British Life: A close up of the materials used in the sculptureA close up of the materials used in the sculpture (Image: Thomas Moran)

‘I have also watched with increasing desperation how climate change is affecting children’s homes, their livelihoods and their futures. I felt compelled to make a sculpture that would express the desperate worldwide need to care and protect our planet and environment for all children and future generations. This sculpture is a reminder to myself, as much as any other, that we all need to do something and to recognise that you can help, however that might be.’ 

Penny dedicated more than 450 hours to creating the Sculpture for Change, giving her plenty of time to consider which cause to support. She wanted it to help children whose lives have been destroyed by conflict, whilst also bringing attention to the urgent need for action around climate change.  

‘UNICEF seemed to be the obvious choice,’ she says. ‘They work tirelessly and globally for every single child in danger, just working to help all children in every way they can. Giving every child the opportunity to reach their full potential by keeping them safe, healthy and strong, providing education and emotional support. Every child has the right to live without fear or famine.’ 

Great British Life: The figures looking out across a wheat fieldThe figures looking out across a wheat field (Image: Thomas Moran)

Penny has until April 30, to try and meet her target of £100,000. To enter the naming competition, or simply make a donation, go to her website or JustGiving page 



The charity UNICEF was formed in 1946 to protect children affected by war and today it works to help children living in some of the world’s most dangerous places. It has climate programmes in 74 countries and is actively tackling climate change with its climate-smart health centres and schools, providing climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services, reducing exposure to pollution and giving a voice to young people. 


In The Making 

Over the years, Penny has worked from various locations including the garden shed and a one-car garage full of her and her husband’s worldly goods. Today however, she has a studio of her own, large enough to accommodate the many bits and pieces, materials, moulds and inspirational objects that go towards creating her art.  

'I’ve always liked to experiment with different materials,’ says Penny. ‘For instance, in refurbishing an old wooden racing yacht using epoxy resin, I subsequently thought it was worth experimenting with the resin to see how it would work with aluminium wire to create strong, but lightweight dance sculptures. I found that I could work quickly with both materials to capture the movement of a dancer’s body, in similar ways to how you would make a quick sketch. This discovery led to whole series of dance sculptures in my portfolio.’ 

For the Sculpture for Change, Penny created her figures from bits of old steel, including pieces from cars and machinery. The resulting fossil fuel ‘mechanical avatars’ represent the practices that need to change in order to start saving the planet and children’s futures.