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Sustainability themes in the Manchester Open 2020

Alice Wilde, Talent Development Producer in Visual Art at HOME has picked out three pieces from the Manchester Open 2020 which provoke discussion around sustainability and our environmental impact on the world.

Sun over West MacDonnell Ranges, Beverley Coleclough

This painting is by Beverley Colclough who spent some time in Alice Springs during a sabbatical. This painting stands out to me as a dreamy idyllic landscape, it also alludes to a scientific diagram of the earth’s layers. What I notice as I look at the colours, shapes and patterns is the absence of plastic pollutants, for me this work echoes back to a time before plastic, where plastic pollution has not impacted on the earth. But we know now that plastic particles have been found deep in the ocean and in the Antarctic and whilst it might not be visible to the human eye, there is a dark under current of how even the most beautiful parts of the natural world have been polluted.

Broken Britain, Nerissa Cargill Thompson

Thinking about the kinds of plastic that might be polluting the previous landscape, I bring you this sculpture called Broken Britain by Nerissa Cargill Thompson. We see how the McDonalds cup is cast in concrete as though the plastic cup has been fossilised. Seeing it here on this plinth, you imagine it as an artefact that will symbolise the Anthropocene, marking a time when human beings have had a significant impact on the earth’s geology and eco systems. So much of our information is now stored digitally, our very existence won’t be documented for future civilisations and it seems the artefacts that will signify our time spent on this planet will be the endless plastic bags and cups we use every day.

In the exhibition space, Broken Britain sits alongside the Octopus sculpture by George Fell – and I see this as a stark warning of the direct harm each plastic item causes to marine life.

 

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Sky 2019, Angela Tait

I am bringing you to the final piece which is Sky 2019 by Angela Tait. Here Angela has repurposed an old satellite dish. I think this is a really powerful piece, ordinarily a satellite dish would end up in a landfill but through creating this sculpture Angela has saved it and turned it into a piece of art. What I love about this is the fact that the sky is stitched into the satellite dish, there is a high level of care to this work and I feel this represents how we can find ways to repair the earth collectively. If we see each stitch as an individual action, that can be multiplied, we see that we can start to minimise the huge impact we are having on the earth. This artwork is a beacon of hope for the positive changes we can make collectively…

 

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