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The air we breathe

I've been meaning to write a blog about The air we breathe for some time now and a recent week long Instagram takeover for Sustainability First has fortuitously provided me with the motivation and content.

Air is invisible, unknowable and undeniable, but how do we visualise this medium that connects us all? A phenomenon we are even more aware of since the impact of Covid-19. These paintings - Wind I, II, III, 2018 (below) - were one of my many attempts to capture the nature of air.

Air quality is so intangible, often expressed through the air quality index (AQI) but what does this actually mean? How do we experience air quality? And what does our experience mean in terms of our perception now and in the future? These were all questions that prompted me to start the collaborative project - The air we breathe - with families all around the world.

I’m interested in how children’s experience of their environment influences their perception throughout their lives and the inter-generational phenomenon referred to as ‘shifting baseline syndrome’.

The contents of the boxes record a generation’s diverse personal experiences of air quality in their local environment. The museum-like cabinet of curiosities makes reference to science’s endeavours to measure and categorise.

Originally from the library at Anglia Ruskin University, the indexical cabinet is borrowed from its custodian at Cambridge School of Art each time the work is exhibited. I really like the fact that none of the objects that make up the work ‘belong’ to me as an artist. It challenges the perceived value of permanence, avoids storage and in effect ‘composts’ the materials post-exhibition – all important elements of a more sustainable art practice. More on my sustainability 'manifesto' in a future blog.

To date The air we breathe has been exhibited four times over the past two years:

The air we breathe project has also prompted a number of art workshops with children and a discussion between artist, curator and scientists about practice of care as part of the Cambridge Climate Change Festival

What’s next for The air we breathe? Stay tuned…#theairwebreathe

If you have any questions or want to find out more please contact me


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