Royal Academy

My photograph is titled - “300 Million: Land that is currently home to 300 million people will flood at least once a year by 2050 unless carbon emissions are cut significantly and coastal defences strengthened”.

What is the story behind the image?

The statistic behind the title of the work was published in an article on the website nature.com, it is discussed in The Guardian here.

As the article linked to above shows, up to 3.6 million people in the UK are at risk. I wanted to portray, in some way, a possible future if we don’t take it seriously and do something now.

I set out to make the image locally to me in south Bristol. Pigeonhouse Stream in Crox Bottom to be precise. It was a still day with sunny intervals when I set out to scout a location and look for inspiration. The inspiration came whilst I sat staring at the water flowing in front of me. Various floating sticks were passing by and I noticed one that had become stuck. Looking closer I could see that most of it had caught on an obstacle beneath the waterline and only a small part was visible to me. My brain started whirring with images of icebergs, then polar bears and then people struggling to stay afloat. That’s when I had the lightbulb moment and that’s when the nose as an iceberg idea was born. Whilst it depicts an individual barely surviving it is of course a metaphor for the wider predicament of so many. The climate emergency is unseen to many of us in our day to day lives but, nonetheless, certain scientific and visual evidence can be seen now. Like the proverbial canary in a coalmine, or a nose poking above the flood waters.

I often feel like the burden of responsibility for climate change and climate action has been put on us as individuals as opposed to, say, large polluting corporations. The need for structural reform, legislation and government action is urgent. Warm words from those in power are not enough. As Scientists, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and other activists with the latest data tell us, there is a climate emergency and we need to ACT NOW.

To be clear I’m not suggesting that recycling our cardboard, plastic and food waste is not worth it but I am saying that it it’ll take more than our domestic recycling and driving an EV to make a difference. We actually need to be engaged and pushing for change from our Government (whatever party is in power). My sons future depends on it. I want him to know I actively tried to make a positive difference.

So I’m dreaming of and engaging in actions that lead to an ambitious, positive future that will be enjoyed by many generations.

This image was on display at the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2022. It was in room VIII, curated by Grayson Perry, and was there from June 21-August 21, 2022.

If you’d like to buy a limited edition print of the image (with no watermarks!) you can find it here

Alternatively, contact me directly here