Acrylic yarn and mixed media
Solo exhibition at Glorious Art House gallery, Exeter
11-24 July 2015
The overall aim of Particulart is to engage people with environmental and social issues and challenge the status quo through the power of knitting, science, and public art. In addition, “Up in the Air” aimed to promote public awareness and provoke reflection on climate change and the underlying science, through appealing to different ways of accessing information – words and numbers, sight and touch – and enabling playful interaction.
Why now? This year is vital, with governments meeting in Paris in December to negotiate a new deal on the climate. On the four days preceding “Up in the Air”, an international scientific conference “Our Common Future under Climate Change” took place at UNESCO in Paris. During “Up in the Air”, there was at least four other major international conferences on the science, engineering and financing of climate adaptation.
Why “Up in the Air”? Because climate change is happening over such a long time-scale and the potential impacts are so huge, many people switch off and pretend that there is no issue. Knitting is a way of bringing it back down to earth. Knitting references the material relationship between human being and things, and “Up in the Air” took both the maker and the audience on a journey from data and scientific thought to the more tactile areas of the brain. It is difficult not to hold a knitted particle without squeezing the atoms. They are homely, comfortable, approachable, and innocent. A 3D knitted representation of carbon dioxide is cuddly and non-threatening, unlike the ominous reality.
Why knitting? Reducing our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases substantially, as we urgently need to, requires doing something countercultural. Knitting also requires being countercultural. The making of “Up in the Air” required presence in the moment and attentiveness; there are no short cuts to knitting. At times, it became a contemplative practice, each stitch a mantra. At other times, it led to mulling over the issue. The slowness in the making grew a deeper care and concern for the planet, and attention to how the audience might understand and embrace the issue.
Why Exeter? The city is home to two world-class climate research centres at the Met Office and the University, so Exeter is an ideal location for climate-related art. And because the artists live here.
Why The Glorious Art House? An independent café, where time is slowed and the audience is relaxed, is the ideal location for a serendipitous encounter and engagement with “Up in the Air”. Maybe in subsequent conversation and reflection, the message will sink in and be digested and will be long-lasting. Plus it’s a glorious space that serves tea and cake with a smile.
There were plenty of responses to “Up in the Air” left in the comments book. Many showed the exhibition provoked thought, which was particularly pleasing. Here are a few:
Super interesting. Innovative & inventive. Love it!
Brilliant concept and presentation – more excellent ideas on how to present data clearly and creatively!
Love it – particularly simple yet simply complex!
Weird in a good way
My chemical eyes needed opening – & this has done it! Many thanks
This is so simple and yet so effective, the colours really contrast and it is very bold and interesting! Love it!
Gentleness in strength!
Fascinating — make sure you don’t miss the axes!
You’ve got me thinking again – thank you
There’s even more about the piece, the issue, actions you can take, and games you can play on the Particulart website.