If you're heading to the Tees Valley this month, you might come across one of many unusual artworks on the theme of clean air. The unique pieces mark the launch of this weekend's Festival of Thrift, an annual celebration of sustainable living at Kirkleatham.
Called Viewpoints, the series includes art made with pollution, an immersive lung cleaning cube, dancers wearing pollution-sensing costumes, a pair of colossal canaries, an extraordinary Green House and a series of pavilions where people are encouraged to 'Sit, Stare' – there is plenty to see until 19 September.
Cabinet of Curiosity, whose striking paper-based artworks have been exhibited nationally and internationally, are exhibiting an extraordinary greenhouse at Darlington Indoor Market. In the nineteenth century, green spaces within urban environments were identified as the "lungs of the city" due to their air-purifying qualities. This architectural installation will show contemporary fabrication techniques using materials that reduce toxicity in the home and will contain a living environment of plants that possess the most effective air cleaning properties.
Meanwhile, Haldane by Colin Davies is an enormous artwork taking over the side of the TWI Technology centre. Installed using a "dazzle" camouflage technique, which was used on ships during the First World War, the artwork will feature canaries, which were often used in mining to signify the presence of toxic gases. It also gives a visual nod to Teesside’s shipbuilding heritage as well as connecting us to its mining past.
Sally Hogarth is creating a series of pavilions which invite you to mindfully reconnect with nature through simple observation. Sit, Stop on Redcar seafront will offer a unique viewpoint to a fascinating area of the Tees Valley allowing people to "simply sit and observe the nature before you. Draw what you see, watch and observe or simply take time to connect with the surroundings".
At Middlesbrough railway station, Dawn Felicia Knox's Transpire/Respire/Inspire installation will allow you to step inside a glowing cube filled with plants, light… and breathe! Functioning as a lung cleaning station, it's a fresh air portal filled with plants that are actively cleaning the air and removing the toxins that are released from the modern built environment.
Elsewhere, Peter J Evan's unique work at Palace Arts in Redcar will use Air-InkTM – ink created from recycled exhaust fumes. You see, breathe, feel is a thought-provoking artwork that will showcase pollution in its physical form making a usually invisible environmental issue quite literally visible. Peter is working with Graviky Labs of India, who have pioneered this extraordinary process.
Viewpoints by Festival of Thrift runs until 19 September. Find out more at www.festivalofthrift.co.uk. Entry is free.