ixia: public art think tank

ixia has taken over the ownership and management of Public Art Online from Arts Council England. The design and content of the website are currently being reviewed.

Bookmark and Share

Breathe, a major new work by artist Dryden Goodwin alters London's skyline

Date uploaded: September 24, 2012

Major new work by artist Dryden Goodwin alters London's skyline: Breathe

London’s Westminster skyline will be animated this autumn by an arresting moving image depicting the simple yet vital action of breathing.

From video and photography to sculpture and installation, acclaimed artist Dryden Goodwin frequently uses the act of drawing to get under the skin of society and touch upon a shared humanity. For his new work Breathe he has created an animation from over a thousand pencil drawings showing the breathing of his five-year-old son. Sometimes relaxed, sometimes laboured, the movements of his son’s exposed and vulnerable head and torso are intimately and enthrallingly depicted by Goodwin’s hand.

The work will be displayed on a large video screen positioned on Gassiot House at St Thomas’ Hospital, clearly visible from Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. Exposed to similar levels of air pollution depicted by Monet and Turner over a century ago*, Breathe will draw the attention of tourist and commuter alike to the universal act of drawing breath. The bodily rhythms of respiration are magnified and become intertwined with the rhythms of the city and the flow of traffic back and forth across the Thames. The child’s breathing, high up in the urban atmosphere, connects quality of air to quality of life.

Alice Sharp (Invisible Dust curator) linked Goodwin with Professor Frank Kelly, an expert on lung health at King’s College London and an advisor to the Government on air pollutants. Kelly’s recent research, the EXHALE programme, has focused on the effects of measures such as the Congestion Charge and the Low Emission Zone on the lung health of children living in East London, whose developing respiratory systems are particularly sensitive to changes in air quality. The artist’s depiction of a child resonates with this vital research, while the work’s sculptural presence and scale evoke representations of male children throughout art history, such as Michelangelo’s Marble Boy.

"The dramatic scale of the Breathe projection high up on the skyline next to the Houses of Parliament will highlight Dryden Goodwin’s extraordinary draughtsmanship and at the same time the fragility of a child drawing breath. Goodwin’s drawing resonates with us the dangers that children living in our cities are facing everyday from our polluted air caused by traffic emissions." Alice Sharp, Curator and Director, Invisible Dust.

“Children are more vulnerable to air pollution because their lungs are underdeveloped at birth and mature slowly during childhood. Several studies have shown that breathing polluted city air is associated with significant adverse effects on children’s respiratory health. Our work with Invisible Dust artist Dryden Goodwin enables a better understanding of the effects of invisible air pollution. The EXHALE study is important because it will help inform future public health policy.”  Professor Frank Kelly, of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London.

Launch: The opening of Dryden Goodwin's work will be on Monday 8th October 6.30-8.30pm at Governors’ Hall, St Thomas’ Hospital.

Speakers: Alan Davey, Chief Executive of the Arts Council England, Sir Hugh Taylor Chairman of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity
From dusk each night 9th - 28th October
Roof of St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7EH (Best view from Westminster Bridge)
Curator: Alice Sharp, Curator and Director, Invisible Dust

A restricted number of invites are available for the launch. Please contact Simon Steven if you would like to attend.

The ‘Breathe’ education programme includes artist Effie Coe, who is part of the EXHALE scientific team, is working with pupils in 20 East London Primary Schools. Past Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen will produce poetry workshops and Coe will create ink breath drawings inspired by ‘Breathe’ with pupils from the Evelina Children’s Hospital School, at St Thomas’ Hospital. Further information about the art and science will be available on the Invisible Dust website and Invisible Dust mobile phone app.

Breathe is part of the ‘Invisible Breath’ series around air pollution and breathing with artists HeHe, Faisal Abdu’Allah and Dryden Goodwin, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Breathe is also funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, and Arts Council England.

Breathe, first drawings, Dryden Goodwin, 2012

Breathe, first drawings, Dryden Goodwin, 2012