“Up in the Air” (2015)

Wide angle 2

Acrylic yarn and mixed media
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.

questionClimate change

Over the last century, human activity has increased the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this is causing the climate to warm. Find out more…


The exhibition included eight greenhouse gases. Find out more about their annual emissions, lifetime and concentration in the atmosphere, and global warming potential.

notesExhibition notes

View and download the main interpretation provided with the exhibition. See also the exhibition posters about the eight greenhouse gases, and the data sources used.


Knit your own greenhouse gases, with patterns for: atoms, bonds, and how they come together into particles.

As part of the exhibition, Diana Moore of Particulart and Knit-Stop ran a knit-your-own carbon dioxide workshop in the Glorious gallery on Saturday 18 July. You too could run a workshop, perhaps in your local primary school. If you don’t have time to knit, you could make pompom carbon dioxide instead.

The “Up in the Air” exhibition material includes three games: Turn Up Trumps, Fair Weather Friends, and a Wordsearch. Print and make your own…

We only have one planet, and we need to look after it and make sure our children and grandchildren can live on it. Find out more about what you can do…

The Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, and your MP, MEPs, and local councillors all have influence in different ways on international, national and local policy and action. Write and tweet to let them know your concerns…


A news feed of updates on the exhibition, our press releases, and the press we received.


A few of the responses to the exhibition left in the comments book… and a video of how to make a comments book.

cameraPhotos & videos

Photos of the exhibition in the Glorious, and the knit-your-own carbon dioxide workshop… and a couple of bonus videos.

Thanks go to…

“Up in the Air” was supported by a Small Arts Grant from Exeter City Council, and sponsorship by the Diocese of Exeter. Many thanks to both organisations for their generosity. Thanks also go to the marvellous and long-suffering David and Sue for their help in setting up the exhibition.

Exeter City Council Diocese of Exeter

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