Jai Redman’s Paradise Lost at the Manchester Art Gallery - Environmentally Focused Art in a Sustainable Space
Engaging audiences with the topic of climate change in a creative way is crucial to inspire a true change in people’s values and behaviours. This is why climate change-related programming is a significant part of the activity of the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST).
MAST organisations work not only to reduce their carbon impact, but also inspire people to think about climate change and other related issues. This audience-focused approach is explored in MAST’s recently published 5-year report (click here) and has been recognised on the European scale with the recent URBACT ‘Good Practice’ award (click here).
Paradise Lost, the recent exhibition of Jai Redman’s works at the Manchester Art Gallery, is a great example of how galleries can showcase thought-provoking art that inspires reflection about climate change and the future of our planet. Redman, a Salford-based artist, is occupied with present environmental issues and their potential aftermath. His works display familiar imagery in surprising context and their creative process is integral to their meanings.
For example, Heart of Glass (Not Fade Away) depicts Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie, painted using water extracted from the Antarctic ice sheet. Blondie’s single Heart of Glass was a global number one at the time of the First World Climate Conference in 1979. It uses an universally-known pop culture moment to help us contextualise the time that passed since the conference and leaves us with a reflection on what has changed since then and maybe even whether there has been a significant change at all.
Equally intriguing and provocative is Redman’s series of re-worked postcards with easily recognisable works by Dutch artists. Painting over postcards, Redman “flooded” the landscapes and portraits, imagining how the depicted places would look had the sea levels risen. Deconstructing seemingly timeless paintings enables visitors to visualise possible effects of climate change. The fact that the works are displayed beside the original paintings interacting with them creates an element of surprise but also has a potential of making audiences think about environmental issues in an unusual context.
Paradise Lost is a perfect example of an exhibition with a power to inspire questions and discussion about the issue of climate change. It interacts with Manchester Art Gallery’s collections but also with the whole building, with its sustainable design and environment-friendly facilities such as cafe and the shop, which can provide an answer to at least some questions raised by the Redman’s exhibition.
Jai Redman’s Paradise Lost
Activity of MAST
Sustainability at the Manchester Art Gallery