Artist seeks mementoes of places before they sink without trace

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AN ENVIRONMENTAL exhibition is urging people to find eye catching items in areas at risk from rising sea levels.

The exhibition “A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting” aims to gather items from several areas before they disappear under water in the future.

The exhibition’s creator is hoping people living in endangered areas such as the Hebrides, the Northern Isles and the Firths of Forth and Clyde will take up the challenge.

A picture of an art display A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting', - Art News Scotland
Amy Balkin et al., ‘A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting’, (2012-ongoing), Anvers Island, Antarctic Collection (Neus, Burns, Kovats).

The exhibition was created by American artist Amy Balkin in 2011 – is a constantly evolving record of the approaching threats posed by climate change.

The crowdsourced collection of objects will be part of an exhibition called The Normal, which opens at the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery on 29 January.

People can send the gallery any object that they find at a threatened location  as long as it weighs less than 225g.

Gallery staff will arrange and present the objects with guidance from the artist.

Once the exhibition closes on 10 April, the items will be forwarded to Balkin, who will add them to the archive, which now contains items from six continents.

The gallery will continue to collect objects for the archive in the run up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November.

Alongside found objects from the natural world the archive includes everyday items – a tube of toothpaste, a broken phone charger and a US dollar.

Each has been plucked from places since ravaged by sea level rise, glacial melt, flooding, drought and other forms of extreme weather driven by changing climate.

The Normal showcases a range of perspectives from established artists on pressing global concerns. 

It has been developed in response to what the curators describe as the ‘wake-up call’ of Covid-19.

Key themes are the pandemic’s impact on communities, health, work, nature and even ideas about progress.

The Normal, says Talbot Rice Director Tessa Giblin, affirms the urgent need to rethink our relationship to the natural world.

Taking part are Amy Balkin, Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan, Boyle Family, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg & Sascha Pohflepp, Gabrielle Goliath, Femke Herregraven, Jarsdell Solutions Ltd, Kahlil Joseph, Tonya McMullan, Sarah Rose and James Webb.