In the grounds of London’s Somerset House in the spring of 2018, five interconnected geodesic domes were installed with a powerful message. The Pollution Pods, created by award-winning British environmental artist Michael Pinsky, simulated the air conditions from different parts of the world. Visitors began their ‘journey’ in the first pod in Tautra, a coastal region in Norway, breathing in fresh Nordic air, fragranced with ocean salt and pine trees. They continued through to the cities of London, New Delhi, Beijing and São Paulo, scented with burnt rubber and transport fumes, cities which between them, suffer some of the highest rates of air pollution in the world.
The installation drew tens of thousands, and viewers were interviewed on the way out, reporting feelings of anger and sadness and with an increased awareness of air quality across the globe.
The accompanying study, a four-year scientific project conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, entitled Climart, proved that art can be a powerful tool in changing people’s perception, understanding and behaviour towards climate change.
Pinsky is part of a wider movement of artists responding to the threat of climate change with their work. In the lead up to the international UN Climate Change Conference COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November 2021, a youth-led movement of creative responses to climate change is picking up steam. Reaching out through visual arts, theatre, interactive and social media, embedded with sustainability as a core ethos, is vital to promote awareness about the climate crisis amongst the youth, says Alison Barrett MBE, Project Director, The Climate Connection, British Council.
'Young people are at the centre of this collaborative approach, as we support them to gain the skills and networks to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet,' she said.