Sustainable Art Exhibitions - Playground by Octavio Aburto.

Sustainable Exhibitions and Art Shows in the UK

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We love a good art show as much as the next culture vulture, but sometimes we need artists, galleries, and museums to take the lead when it comes to educating audiences on widespread social issues. Connecting visitors to the natural world, endangered species, plastic consumption, and climate change, these are the sustainable art exhibitions to see in the UK this year.

A Guide to Sustainable Art

Sustainable Exhibitions and Art Shows


Photo 1 of
Blue Paradox

The Blue Paradox

Step into the ocean with this immersive exhibition SC Johnson and Conservation International. The Blue Paradox will take viewers on a tour of the damage done to the ocean by our over-consumption of plastics, providing a sensory experience through 360 degree digital projections that will make you rethink the next time you pick up a plastic product. Entry is free, and for every visitor a donation will be made to Conservation International’s ocean protection efforts to help protect one square kilometre of ocean. Showing 15 – 27 September 2021 at Exhibition London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7SL.

Image: Room 1 of The Blue Paradox. 

Rebecca Chesney, Bee Stripes

Rebecca Chesney: Our Future Sorrows

British visual artist Rebecca Chesney returns to Yorkshire Sculpture Park to develop a new project inspired by the declining bee population in the UK. The exhibition, Our Future Sorrows, invites visitors to join the #YSPBeeClub by helping populate a digital map of bees and bee-friendly plants while the park. Chesney’s work seeks to educate on the vital role bees play in our ecosystem as pollinators, using a combination of installation, videos, drawings, and photographs. Her artworks are often created in response to specific places and underpinned by environmental research. Showing 1 April – 30 September 2021 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, WF4 4LG.

Image: Bee Stripes by Rebecca Chesney (c) Rebecca Chesney

Extraction Art on the Edge of the Abyss

Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss

Throughout the summer, Norfolk gallery GroundWork has been inviting artists to create projects that highlight the incredible strains on the environment caused by extraction. Part of a wider initiative starting in the United State, Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss is a global network of artists and galleries raising social awareness of harmful processes. The goal? To ’cause a ruckus’. The gallery invites guests to come in on Saturdays ahead of the final exhibition in September; meet the artists, see some artwork, and have a chat about what individuals can do to help the environmental crisis. Showing 20 September – 3 October 2021 at GroundWork Gallery, 17 Purfleet Street, King’s Lynn, PE30 1ER.

Image: A view of Snettisham Carrstone quarry (c) Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership

Huia (X-ray), Helena Hunter, 2019

Falling Birds

Horniman Museum & Gardens is currently showing a collection of works by UK artist Helena Hunter. The exhibition, Falling Birds, uses X-ray photographs and poetic texts to highlight the ongoing environmental crisis – in particular, the alarming decline in bird species around the world. With one in eight of the world’s bird species now currently threatened with extinction, Hunter wants visitors to the gallery to consider the impact we have had on their way of life. Showing 19 September 2020 – 10 October 2021 at Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London, SE23 3PQ.

Image: Huia (X-ray), Helena Hunter, 2019. Courtesy of Horniman Museum & Gardens

Eye of the Hurricane by Octavio Aburto

Exposure: Lives at Sea

The National Maritime Museum has unveiled a new photography exhibition exploring the experiences of those currently working at sea. The photographs on show were taken by maritime workers from every corner of the industry, from food and ecosystem services to energy and transportation. Exposure: Lives at Sea hopes to shed some light on one of the world’s most unseen industries, as well as the people within it. Showing 3 December 2020 – 31 December 2021 at the National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London , SE10 9NF.

Image: Eye of the Hurricane by Octavio Aburto. Image provided by kind permission of artist © Octavio Aburto

Malala Andrialavidrazana

We Are History

This autumn, Somerset House will be presenting a new exhibition offering a different perspective on humanity’s impact on the planet. Curated by Ekow Eshun, We Are History traces the complex interrelations between today’s climate crisis and legacies of colonialism through the work of nine artists with personal connections to countries in the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Showing 14 October 2021 – 6 February 2022 at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA.

Image: Malala Andrialavidrazana, Figures 1852, River Systems of the World, 2018. Courtesy of Somerset House

Refugee Astronaut III, Yinka Shonibare CBE, 2019

Being Human

As the title suggests, The Wellcome Collection’s permanent exhibition Being Human is an exploration of what it means to live as a human being in the twenty-first century. The space is divided into four themes: genetics, minds and bodies, infection, and climate breakdown. The final chapter addresses the era of modern climate change, and includes artworks by the likes of Superflex and Yinka Shonibare. A thought-provoking look into the future of society, art, and sustainable art exhibitions. The Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London , NW1 2BE.

Image: Refugee Astronaut III, Yinka Shonibare CBE, 2019 © Yinka Shonibare CBE. Courtesy of The Wellcome Collection

Featured image: Playground by Octavio Aburto. Image provided by kind permission of artist © Octavio Aburto.

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