Interdisciplinary Roundtable: Making art ‘work’ in response to the air pollution crisis in our cities

Posted on 12.06.2024

On Friday 14 June, Invisible Dust is hosting a closed roundtable in partnership with UCL Public Policy as part of our UCL funded ongoing enquiry around the artwork Breathe by Dryden Goodwin, produced by Invisible Dust. Artist and Professor Dryden Goodwin teaches at the Slade School of Fine Art (part of the UCL), and this is a continuation of our ongoing artist-led research into the role public art commissioning can play in driving both public and political support for clean air policy.

This interdisciplinary discussion will include scientists, artists, policy professionals, funders, campaigners and health stakeholders. Taking Breathe as a foundational case study, we will explore how public art can increase public awareness of the grave health impacts of air pollution, illuminating – and driving public support for – the necessary policy and legal action required to tackle it.

Breathe has a unique methodology of collaborating with a wide range of bodies that actively inform or drive change around public health and air quality in our cities, including transportation networks like TFL, local councils and the Mayor of London, business improvement districts, hospitals and research institutes, environmental NGO’s and health charities, and a wide range of grassroots campaigners. This roundtable will explore how such methodologies could form a blueprint for arts programming, transferable to other cities and environmental challenges worldwide.

Following the roundtable, a report will be shared with partners later in 2024.

Responders will include Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, Gulbenkian Foundation, Policy Lab, UCL Public Policy, Slade School of Fine Art, Imperial College, Asthma and Lung UK, Impact on Urban Health, Mums for Lungs and Queen’s University Belfast.

About Breathe
Breathe, the multi-site public artwork by artist Dryden Goodwin, has since 2012 utilised highly-visible artistic interventions to explore pressing policy issues around the global health emergency of air pollution. The work, which took over bridges, buildings and billboards across London and the UK, has been viewed by 13 million people to date. 

Breathe (2012) worked with Professor Frank Kelly, King’s College London (key health advisor to the government on air pollution, which led to the implementation of ULEZ) and Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to raise awareness of health impacts. 

Ten years later, Breathe:2022 and Breathe for Ella (2023) worked with Dr Ian Mudway Imperial College, Lewisham Council, the Mayor of London, high-profile air pollution campaigners including Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah CBE, and Baroness Jenny Jones MP to highlight the upcoming ULEZ expansion and the proposed ‘Ella’s Law’ that would enshrine the right to breathe clean air in UK Law.

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