An Artist’s Book About Climate

I’ve spent a good part of 2022 working on ideas related to both the local climate and the changing global climate. Locally I’ve filled a sketchbook with drawings of the River Caldew not far from home, all made from the same place using coloured pencils and a brush pen in a beautiful Khadi book. That work led me to considering “flow” in a number of forms, eventually leading me to global winds and how measurements of those flows over time reveal the inexorable heating of Earth.

It all probably started with my observational sketches, made on the river-bank over a period of some months. Initially, the goal was to see what might happen if I drew the same scene in the same way over and over. But quickly the drawings converged on studies of the water flows, and also on its changes in different weather conditions and as a result of events at the river.

Image 1: Cover of sketchbook, 300mm x 120mm

Image 2: 28/5/22 page from sketchbook

Image 3: 2/7/22 page from sketchbook

Image 4: 25/8/22 page from sketchbook

Or maybe it started with earlier experiments simulating flows in software, where I ended up making large-format giclée prints like these ghostly forms.

Image 5: Caldew as a giclée print on Canson Aquarelle Rag, 16”x12”

However it began, I eventually brought together the changes I was seeing locally, with the changes in global climate since the 1950s, a period that has seen an inexorable rise in temperature that appears to threaten our future.

I fuelled this exploration with global atmospheric data from publicly accessible archives including the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and NASA.

Initial sketches took global wind data from when I was physically on the river-bank as a basis, and overlaid marks onto a scan of my ink drawing. Unsatisfactory, but a step in the right direction I thought.

Image 6: Detail of a sketch

I made a lot of work between this stage and what is currently the final outcome, a large-format artist’s book, in an edition of precisely one, hand-bound using waxed cotton thread:

Image 7: Cover of Climate Artist’s Book, 483mm x 279mm

Image 8: Page from Climate Artist’s Book

Image 9: Page from Climate Artist’s Book

Image 10: Page from Climate Artist’s Book

Image 11: Detail from Climate Artist’s Book

I say that was the final outcome, but in fact that’s not quite right as I then made a hand-drawn/painted canvas using water-soluble coloured pencils, ink and water. But I suspect even that is only a step towards further development in future.

Published by Steve Meyfroidt

Artist, Scientist, Technologist

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