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


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Eremozoic, Jim Naughten


A new series from photographic artist Jim Naughten is going on display at Grove Square Galleries, themed around our modern-day disconnection from the environment. He uses a practice called digital painting – a combination of photography and painting – to explore the idea of the natural world as a faraway fictional fantasy, highlighting our growing estrangement. The show’s title, Eremozoic, is a term used to describe the current era of the Earth’s development, characterised as a period of mass extinction due to human activity. Speaking about the show, Naughten says: ‘I’m interested in how, in the evolutionary blink of an eye, humans have come to dominate and overwhelm the planet and how far our relationship with the natural world has fundamentally and dangerously shifted from that of our ancestors.’ 7 October – 18 November 2021,

Image courtesy of the artist and Grove Square Galleries

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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