York Air Map: Art meets Science to reveal York’s air pollution

On Saturday 12th August in York, art and air pollution will come together for an innovative exhibition aiming to raise awareness of local air quality.

The project is a collaboration between artist and lecturer Clare Nattress and atmospheric scientist Dr Daniel Bryant who have curated York Air Map, a website that reveals ground level air pollution data in York.

In 2018, Clare sold up and headed off around the World with a bike and a tent. The year long project, she says: ‘raised significant questions regarding the environment and air pollution. Cycling and air pollution have now become a basis for [my] art-making and practice-led research.’

This led to a project last year, which saw her partner with Dr Bryant to highlight air quality around York. A bicycle was fitted with a MiniVol TAS sampler inside the front basket and a Flow 2 air quality sensor attached to the handlebars. Clare cycled along six popular bus routes, to and from the University of York and York St John University, that offered both rural and urban landscapes.

The culmination of the project was an exhibition at a gallery in York, where a video (see below) of the sampling process was shown alongside six discoloured MiniVol filters, one from each of the bus routes, housed side by side in a glass case.

In May of this year, the pair upped the ante by recruiting 16 cycling citizen scientists who, for the duration of June collected ambient air quality data from around York, which was uploaded in real time to York Air Map. The pollutants being measured were NO2, VOCs and PMs.

This is the work that has led to the one-night only exhibition, ‘York Air Map’ on Saturday 12th August. We’ll let Clare and Dr Bryant describe it:

‘The project aims to foster a deep understanding of the detrimental impact of air pollution on our health, ecosystems and climate. Through the diverse array of mediums such as a digital interactive map, photography, artist books, pollution diaries, smellable filters, and audio recordings visitors will take on an emotional and intellectual journey inspiring awareness, dialogue, and collective action.

‘The exhibition goes beyond being a traditional art exhibition by actively engaging the audience in environmental advocacy. Visitors are encouraged to handle air pollution sensors and examine the air in which they are breathing. Visitors will also be able to register their interest to become the next group of citizen scientists recruited to collect data for the project in the autumn.’

For more information: York Air Map Tickets, Sat 12 Aug 2023 at 19:30 | Eventbrite





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