Imagine a material which can clean the air of the very nitrogen dioxide (NOX) pollutant gas which exacerbates asthma and other breathing difficulties; the same breathing difficulties that have made Italians don gas masks in 2020 or which forced an Australian firefighter to use an inhaler on world news, or that kept me in A&E one night a few years with my son as he struggled on a ventilator. This material is called NoxTek, a ceramic geopolymer developed over the last 10 years.
The by-products of our industrial evolution are creating a lasting effect and The Euston Road is usually in the top 5 most polluted roads in the country. As a result, Euston Green Link commissioned new public art with the express purpose of leading commuters away to walk greener streets near the park. And so with the help of MTART Agency and The Mayor of London Fund, Alsitek and Solar Polar over 2018-2019, I created a public art sculpture reminiscent of the Greek and Roman sculptures in marble and stone of empires now deceased; a person looking up, away from their phone to take in a breathe of clean air in an environment they would once more notice.
More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits. By 2050, the UN predicts that 66% of the world’s population will live in cities. By combining art, science and engineering and 21st century materials we can not only help raise awareness as to this burgeoning by-product of our progress, but go some way to intervene.