We Breathe, Together: A day of community air action and exploration – 17/09/2022

What a day that was! On Saturday 17th September 2022, at a time of great national reflection, we hosted ‘We Breathe, Together‘ at Art Fund Museum of the Year Horniman Museum and Gardens. Over 500 young people and their families took part in a wide range of workshops, installations and talks, to be inspired by ways to take action for a clean air future – and to celebrate the power of collective action.

Carole Destre, Climate and Ecology Co-ordinator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens: “Seventy years after the Great Smog, Londoners are still suffering the effects of air pollution. London smog may be a thing of the past but many of us are still living and working alongside one of the busiest roads in the city, and clean air is still a dream.”

We Breathe, Together extends the conversation around Breathe:2022, artist Dryden Goodwin’s ambitious multi-site artwork exploring air pollution, on sites close to the heavily polluted South Circular Road and beyond. Breathe: 2022 combines over 1,300 new drawings, appearing as large-scale still and moving images around Lewisham, central London and across the UK from May to December 2022.

What went down? Co-created stop motion animation…

Chocolate Films worked with 50+ young people to create hands-on stop motion animation workshop about the call for clean air and the damaging effects of pollution.

Watch it below!

An animation exploring air pollution co-created by Chocolate Films with 50+ young people and their families at ‘We Breathe, Together’

Designing and racing the car of the future in the hydrogen car challenge..

Putting the technology of the future into your hands, participants challenged themselves to design the most energy-efficient hydrogen-powered vehicle. Using a custom-designed LEGO kit and 2W hydrogen fuel cell to build a vehicle, participants raced on the track to try and reach the furthest distance, fastest!

Drawing Ink Breath ‘Lungs’ led by artist Cathy Gale

Young people and families came together to make beautiful ink breath lung artwork with local artist Cathy Gale, created by blowing onto ink, through a straw, on paper.

Learning how the way ink branches out on the paper mimics the branched structure of our lungs. These mini artworks created celebrate the power – and vulnerability – of our lungs.

Exploring our place in the environment with Climate Museum UK

Artists from Climate Museum UK explored the web of connections between air pollution, other environmental issues and your experience. Over the day participants created a personal collage to add to a big forest scroll that puts them in this picture, expressing their feelings and exploring the actions they can take.

Led by museum’s founder Bridget McKenzie, the hour-long creative workshops uses their museum objects to map these links and deepen our understanding.

Immersive climate adventures with SMASHFEST UK

Participants joined SMASHfest UK who have a mission to widen participation and build diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths, STEM, through the Arts. Participants took part in immersive adventures exploring life on earth today – devising storylines and characters, and taking part in a range of STEM challenges, learning about our impact on the environment – and the ways we can imagine a better future.

Sarah Stirk’s Airborne – an audio-visual installation that seeks to make the invisible threat of pollution visible

Airborne by artist Sarah Stirk- is an audio-visual installation exposing the impact of air pollution on the health of children in London. The work combines microscopic images of pollution in children’s sputum, and infrared photographs of children revealing veins, with data maps showing illegal levels of pollution in London.

Talks and Conversations

Featuring leading campaigners, policymakers, scientists and artists.

Artist Talk by Dryden Goodwin, followed by an in-conversation with Airborne artist Sarah Stirk and Breathe:2022 participants Anjali Raman-Middleton (Choked Up) and Alice Tate-Hart (Mums for Lungs) led by Lucy Wood, Creative Producer, Invisible Dust.

‘Art, Science and the Campaign for Clean Air‘ panel talk featuring Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah (Ella Roberta Family Foundation), Shonagh Manson (Assistant Director of Culture and Creative Industries GLA), Dr Ian Mudway (Imperial College), and Breathe:2022 artist Dryden Goodwin. Chaired by Peronel Craddock, Head of Content, Horniman Museum and Gardens.

The Clean Air Village

The chance to meet the incredible organisations campaigning for clean air across London and nationwide. Come say hello, find out more about the brilliant work they do and the ways that you can join them and take action!

Mums For Lungs

Mums for Lungs are a network of people who care about air pollution. The group was established in Brixton, London in 2017, when a number of them were on parental leave together. They became aware of the toxic levels of air pollution on the UK’s streets while walking around with their babies, and decided to do something about it. From School Streets to the ULEZ, they have been instrumental in helping implement vital changes in neighbourhoods right across London

“This is an excellent initiative. We need an army of Mums for Lungs if we are to tackle London’s toxic air, which is stunting our children’s lungs and scarring health for a generation.” Nicky Gavron, London Assembly Member and former Deputy London Mayor

Ella Roberta Foundation

The Ella Roberta Foundation was set up by Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in memory of her daughter, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who died of an air pollution-induced respiratory attack at age 9.

The Foundation is campaigning for the UK government to strengthen air pollution targets, in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for the projection of human health. They believe that by raising awareness, people are enabled to make informed decisions about the dangerous health impacts of toxic air, so they can lower their exposure. These decisions could range from walking through a park rather than on a busy road, to giving up wood-burning stoves, to lobbying their MP and the government for ambitious clean air targets.

Choked Up

Founded by a group of black and brown teens living in areas affected by air pollution, Choked Up‘s aim is to make the invisible visible, and to educate the most badly affected communities about the dangers of toxic air. In March 2021, Choked Up erected hacked road signs in Lewisham, Brixton and Whitechapel, pollution hotspots on the Red Routes network.

Climate Action Lewisham

Climate Action Lewisham is a local residents’ action group working to support and generate initiatives in Lewisham that reduce our collective carbon footprint, and promote healthy and thriving neighbourhoods in the face of our climate and ecological crisis.

Friends of the Earth Southwark Chapter

​​Southwark Friends of the Earth is part of a movement transforming social beliefs and culture, creating a safer climate, flourishing nature, and healthy air, water and food. They campaign for change in their community to make a difference to our environment.

We Breathe, Together was programmed by Invisible Dust for We Are Lewisham, London Borough of Culture 2022, with the support of Arts Council England and the Mayor of London.

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