Breath of fresh air to highlight pollution

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'Iris' © Charlotte Weatherstone

‘Iris’ © Charlotte Weatherstone

Natural beauty has taken centre-stage as the city’s newest art installation has been unveiled as part of VENT’s Liverpool Air Quality Festival.

‘Iris’ is a living, breathing installation aiming to raise awareness of Liverpool’s air quality, which organisers describe as “an invisible public health emergency”.

A Jamaica Street skate-park is the new home of the piece made up of mosses and lichens which monitor trends in pollution over time. The natural materials are sensitive to increased levels of nitrogen and will notably deteriorate if air quality is poor.

Charlotte Weatherstone is the brains behind Iris. She is a graffiti artist, designer and illustrator whose work encompasses many scales and media. She works on anything from canvas to brick walls and her influences include nature and Art Nouveau.

Charlotte told JMU Journalism: “My work is directly influenced by nature, so this was the perfect opportunity to bring my work to life, whilst delivering an important message.

“My initial reaction was to create something positive, because air quality is a heavy topic in itself. I wanted to create an eye-catching piece, that incorporates simple messages that will encourage the public to think about how they can improve air quality.”

VENT air quality festival launched on February 20th and showcased many free artistic interventions and public forums from several Liverpool-based artists, concluding with Ms Weatherstone’s newest work.

'Iris' © Charlotte Weatherstone

‘Iris’ © Charlotte Weatherstone

The artists who got involved were commissioned to deliver new cultural products or public artworks that engage with the public about air quality. They were each paired with one of a team of scientists to develop their artwork, including Frances Stoakley from The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who worked with Charlotte.

Ms Weatherstone sees ‘Iris’ as the embodiment of a real woman, explaining: “Breathing fresh air, her swirling hair is living moss and lichens, she offers her opinion on alternative modes of transport to keep the air quality pure, the buildings clean and people of her city healthy.

“She also offers a home to wildlife and brightens up an old building with her wildflowers.”

About Leigh Kimmins, JMU Journalism