(TBT2) ‘Dryden Goodwin & Air Pollution’

Posted on 20.10.2016

** Every other week on Thursday we will be publishing a Throwback Thursday piece; looking back to older projects to see how the work’s environmental messages relate to current news, whether there has been any development on the issues raised and what the artists involved are doing now **

We are looking back to 2012 and world renowned artist Dryden Goodwin’s piece ‘Breathe’ at St.Thomas’s Hospital, London.  Over a thousand drawings of his son were animated to create a ethereal, fluctuating image evoking an uneven breath. The symbolism of St. Thomas’s hospital opposite the House of Parliament was a statement about the unnatural and dangerous levels of air pollution in London, its position facing Parliament demanded action.

Nearly 5 years later, Sadiq Khan offers some hope to the UKs most polluted city but the UK is particularly bad about tackling this issue, as our Human Sensor project in Manchester highlighted. Below are some recent articles on the UK’s indifference even direct avoidance to the issue of air pollution, and information on Client Earth’slegal battle with the UK Govt over the issue.

Client Earth case

The Independent: George Osborne accused of blocking air pollution action

The Guardian: Morally and legally the Govt has failed us

Unlike many other European countries such as Norway or France, the U.K has not taken any real measures to tackle air pollution. In keeping with the Government’s environmental and climate change agenda, short term-ism prevails. It would be ‘too expensive’ to tackle, take up ‘too much time’ and generally not be in the interests of those in positions of power. There is a belief that a large majority of UK voters do not care about the environment and would therefore not get behind schemes that may disrupt the status quo. While this may be partially true, it is the responsibility of a government to lead the way rather than simply pander for votes. A major reason behind the lack of awareness or care from the British public is due to a distinct lack of effort and exposure of environmental issues, it becomes a vicious circle. Yet, the current state of British politics does not allow for this kind of logic.

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