Detail of Unpaved Paradise by Orlanda Broom

UK Exhibitions and Art Shows with an Eco-Conscious Message

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Where to get your fix of green culture

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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

UK Exhibitions and Art Shows with an Eco-Conscious Message

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Jaguar by Jim Naughten

Arcadia

Grove Square Galleries

Arcadia, the newest group exhibition from Grove Square Galleries, focuses on humanity’s relationship with nature and our evolving ideal of a perfect world – ‘from an idyllic wilderness abounding with nature to a futuristic utopia’. The exhibition features work from the likes of Orlanda Broom, Crystal Fischetti, Elena Gual, Christopher Kieling, Jim Naughten, Harry Rudham, Marc Standing and David Wightman.

When: 9 December 2021 – 28 January 2022

Image: Jaguar by Jim Naughten. Courtesy of the artist and Grove Square Galleries.

Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It, The Natural History Museum

Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It

The Natural History Museum

Following in the footsteps of COP15 on and COP26, The Natural History Museum has opened up its doors to invite debate on why and how our relationship with the natural world needs to change. This year-long free display will explore how humans have shaped the planet in an effort to uncover possible solutions to creating a greener future. With specimens chosen from over 80 million objects in the museum’s collection by its scientists, Our Broken Planet promises to intrigue, engage and open up the conversation around sustainability to everyone.

When: Until late summer 2022

Image: Courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum London

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Heavens (installation view, Serpentine at The Swiss Church, London, 12 – 17 October 2021). Photo credit: George Darrell

Back to Earth

Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Gallery’s new multi-year project invites over 60 leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers and designers to devise artist-led campaigns, protocols and initiatives responding to the environmental crisis. Titled Back to Earth, the project is ‘a complex web of interconnected research, interventions and activities’. Serpentine Gallery have commissioned multiple campaigns for Back to Earth, with talent including the likes of Maria Thereza Alves, James Bridle, Jane Fonda, Karrabing Film Collective and Vivienne Westwood.

When: Ongoing

Image: Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Heavens (installation view, Serpentine at The Swiss Church, London, 12 – 17 October 2021). Photo credit: George Darrell

Science Museum staff posing as visitors to Sebastião Salgado’s exhibition Amazônia - a series of breath-taking photographs that celebrate the indigenous peoples and varied landscapes of the Brazilian rainforest. October 2021.

Amazônia

The Science Museum

In this new major exhibition, the Science Museum highlights the work of artist Sebastião Salgado, winner of the 2021 Praemium Imperiale award for painting. Amazônia, a breath-taking photography exhibition celebrating the indigenous peoples and varied landscapes of the Brazilian rainforest, brings together over 200 black-and-white photographs of the Amazon when the forest is approaching a crucial tipping point in the fight against climate change.

When: 13 October 2021 – March 2022

Image: Visitor in Amazônia at the Science Museum © Science Museum Group

Our Future Planet at The Science Museum

Our Future Planet

The Science Museum

This exhibition asks one very important question: can carbon capture help us flight climate change? Our Future Planet explores the technologies being developed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, highlighting cutting-edge technology and nature-based solutions. From preserving ancient woodlands and adding dust to agricultural fields, to capturing carbon dioxide from the air or installing systems that prevent it leaving power stations and factories, The Science Museum showcase contemporary efforts to save the planet.

When: 19 May 2021 – September 2022

Image: Courtesy of the Science Museum Group

Immersive installation with trees projected on wall

Waste Age: What can design do?

The Design Museum

80% of a product’s environmental impact is decided at the design stage – so it makes sense to ask how design can tackle waste. The Design Museum’s latest exhibition Waste Age not only asks this question – it also answers it with an array of inspiring solutions. From dresses made of algae to seaweed furniture to future concept fast food made from the scraps we throw away, there’s a solution and a use for almost every type of waste. Highlights include pioneering sustainable fashion from Stella McCartney’s A-Z Collection, photography from Edward Burtynsky and an interactive forest installation by the Sony Design Centre. Expect to be educated and inspired.

When: 22 October 2021 – 20 February 2022

Image: Felix Speller

Malala Andrialavidrazana

We Are History

Somerset House

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.

When: 14 October 2021 – 6 February 2022 

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

Refugee Astronaut III, Yinka Shonibare CBE, 2019

Being Human

The Wellcome Collection

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.

When: Ongoing

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

Featured image: Detail of Unpaved Paradise by Orlanda Broom. Courtesy of the artist and Grove Square Galleries.

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