Understanding air pollution and the threat it poses to people is at the heart of Space to breathe – an exhibition held earlier this year at King’s College London.
It was created by air pollution experts from King’s who joined forces with artists, DJs and performers to consider air pollution and the impact it has on our health. By participating in workshops to determine their lung capacity and learning how to avoid the polluting hotspots of London, visitors examined what action can be taken to make our cities less congested, cleaner and more energy efficient.
Human lungs inhale and exhale 23,000 times a day, with each person requiring eight Sycamore trees’ worth of oxygen per year. Clean air is one of the most important human needs and yet city dwellers often find this hard to come by, especially in London, a city that has a shocking reputation for air pollution.
Using research from King’s internationally recognised Environmental Research Group (ERG), the exhibition coincided with a special weekend of free performances, installations, talks and workshops and community events, all held at Somerset House to draw peoples’ attention to air pollution. It informed people about the steps they can take to actively reduce the amount of harmful pollution they create.
The ERG is a well-established leading provider of air quality information and research in the UK. Their work encompasses the measurement of air pollution, assessment of its toxicity and impacts on health, with much of their work informing Government and international regulatory bodies’ policy.
The events demonstrated ways in which individuals can lead the charge against the air pollution crisis in London, and find out what they can do to be part of the change. Space to Breathe was part of UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility, a joint initiative from Somerset House, King’s College London and The Courtauld Institute and Gallery to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s seminal text.
Images (top to bottom): DJ Jarvis Cocker and David Buckland, Founder and International Director, Cape Farewell pose at the opening of Space to Breathe, Photographer Kate Anderson.
Chih Chiu – Voyage on the Planet – credit Model- Weilin Wang
Breathing Mephitic Air by Wesley Goatley (still shot of audio visual installation). Photographer Kate Anderson