'Living' art installation detects air pollution in Liverpool

Iris by Charlotte Weatherstone

A public art installation has been unveiled in Liverpool's Baltic Triangle that will change and deteriorate on contact with air pollution and atmospheric changes.

Iris by Charlotte Weatherstone is one of several artworks commissioned for the VENT! Liverpool Air Quality Festival (February 20th to March 5th 2016), which highlights human-made pollution and the solutions accessible to the public.

The artist describes the piece as 'an actual living installation', made up of mosses and lichens that visibly deteriorate if air quality is poor and are therefore ideal for monitoring levels of nitrogen, plus wood and copper that will change colour and texture on exposure to the atmosphere.

"There are bird boxes, which I hope will soon hear the flutter of tiny wings and a pot of seasonal daffodils," Weatherstone adds. "The message is to walk, cycle and have car-free days in an effort to make your small contribution to lessening the amount of pollutants into the air around us."

Frances Stoakley from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who advised on Iris, comments: "My work focuses on raising public awareness of the link between biodiversity and environmental and human health using engagement activities exploring lichens to bridge this gap.

"Air pollution is one of the world's biggest environmental health issues, therefore it is vital that we engage the public with the damaging issues of invisible air pollution and aim to bring about positive behaviour change for improved air quality."

Iris will be on display from March 3rd 2016 at Jamaica Street Skatepark, Baltic Triangle, Liverpool.

Other pieces commissioned for the VENT! Liverpool Air Quality Festival include Tomo's Clean Air Vehicle, a pop-up installation that sees the artist reflect on his scheme to customise Liverpool City Bikes; a series of cocooned skeletons by Pamela Sullivan called A Warning; Tristan Brady-Jacobs's Liverpool Glorms – 'paste-ups of portraits of ordinary folk made monstrous by their desire to obtain immortality'; and Occlusion, Julieann O'Malley's durational performance that addresses pollution as the 'invisible intruder'.

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