Imperial College London

New art exhibition depicts London’s invisible air pollution


Air by Marina Vitaglione

A new art exhibition focusing on the effects of air pollution across London has opened as part of Lambeth’s Town Hall Arts Programme.

As part of the exhibition, ‘Air’, artist Marina Vitaglione has created a series of striking images to provide a visual representation of air pollution across the capital.

Ms Vitaglione worked with scientists from the Environmental Research Groups’s London Air Quality Network to use real-world data from London’s hotspots to produce a series of prints. 

Professor Frank Kelly, who attended the ‘Air’ launch event, said: “At ERG we are always looking for new and interesting ways to communicate air pollution and health issues with the public and so, working with the artist Marina Vitaglione to make the invisible, visible was a great opportunity for us." 

Professor Frank Kelly with Artist Marina Vitaglione
Professor Frank Kelly with Artist Marina Vitaglione

The scientific data from monitoring stations was used to gauge the levels of Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, and Sulphur Dioxide in the air. Some samples were impressed upon tape, using a Beta Attenuation Monitoring device, and then photographed through a microscope. Others were enlarged digitally through Raman Spectroscopy.

The resulting images are cyanotype prints created by a process that involves the use of natural sunlight to reveal the final image through coating paper with a photosensitive emulsion. The artwork has been printed on paper made from responsibly sourced 90% bamboo fibre and 10% cotton for the exhibition. 

Artist Maria Vitaglione said: “Climate change is largely invisible, and not tangible, so I think it is important to find new ways to show and reveal it. As air pollution is now the biggest environmental risk of early death worldwide, my aim with this series was to visualise this issue by creating images of toxic fine particles, and in doing so contribute to a broader conversation and action towards the cause of air pollution in London and globally.

“For this reason, I am particularly excited for the images to be exhibited at Lambeth Town Hall, where they will be seen by local politicians working directly with programmes to reduce pollution levels within Lambeth and greater London.”

Learn more about 'Air' on Marina Vitaglione's website. The AIR exhibition will run at Lambeth Town Hall, Until June 30, 2022. 9am – 5pm.


Jack Stewart

Jack Stewart
School of Public Health

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Public-engagement, Environment, Public-health, Pollution, School-of-Public-Health
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