Charwei Tsai and Mandy Barker’s powerful artworks that confront climate change

Mandy Barker, Hong Kong Soup Lotus Garden 2015 image courtesy of the artist.

The contemporary art world is increasingly tapping into the global reality of climate change, creating a platform to visualise the effects and threats of environmental issues.

This is the subject of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art’s latest programme, Season for Change.

The season includes Mandy Barker‘s Hong Kong Soup, which demonstrates the extent of plastic in our oceans, and Charwei Tsai’s Bulaubulau, which presents alternative solutions, drawing on the sustainable practices of indigenous communities in Taiwan.

Photographer Mandy Barker collected and photographed waste debris from over 30 beaches in Hong Kong between 2012 and 2015 for Hong Kong Soup. Widely referred to as ‘Soup’, the debris - including retail, household, medical, and hazardous waste alongside agricultural, shipping, and fishing-related waste – escapes recycling or landfill and ends up in the sea, some of which is then washed up on beaches.

Barker’s manipulation of the images gives a highly aesthetic look, and the end result is a series of beautifully striking images that encourage viewers to truly pause and reflect.

Bulaubulau, Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai’s first solo exhibition in the UK, features multi-installation, film, photography and drawings, depicting the traditions and customs of indigenous communities in Taiwan, whilst looking at the increasing impact of climate change on these areas, affected by typhoons, landslides, flooding and pollution. Charwei highlights the injustices inflicted on these communities, often caused by neglect of policymakers, and celebrates their resilience and successes in implementing sustainable economic and educational systems, as well as preserving spiritual practices and traditional knowledge.

Highlights include Driftwood (2011), an installation of large pieces of driftwood washed up in Taiwan during a typhoon, with Buddhist text the Heart Sutra inscribed in Chinese Calligraphy onto each piece, and a newly commissioned film which follows students from the Root Vocational School, founded by the Bulaubulau Aboriginal Village in Yilan, Taiwan. This experimental school have reclaimed their ancestral land in the mountains of Yilan, uniting modern practices of self-sustainability with the preservation of aboriginal traditions.

Both exhibitions run until 20 January 2019 at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

Mandy Barker, Hong Kong Soup Birds Nest 2015 image courtesy of the artist.

Mandy Barker, Hong Kong Soup Birds Nest 2015 image courtesy of the artist.

Mandy Barker, Hong Kong Soup Refused 2015 image courtesy of the artist.

Mandy Barker, Hong Kong Soup Refused 2015 image courtesy of the artist.

Charwei Tsai - Bulaubulau at CFCCA (2018). Photo by Michael Pollard.

Charwei Tsai - Bulaubulau at CFCCA (2018). Photo by Michael Pollard.

Charwei Tsai Lanyu V 2012, hand inscribed photograph courtesy of the artist.

Charwei Tsai Lanyu V 2012, hand inscribed photograph courtesy of the artist.

Charwei Tsai 2011 photograph of site of Driftwood courtesy of the artist.

Charwei Tsai 2011 photograph of site of Driftwood courtesy of the artist.