Transitions Art-Science Climate Change Project with Prof. Trevor Davies and Gennadiy Ivanov





The Transitions Art-Science Climate Change Project originated in Norwich with Professor Trevor Davies and artist Gennadiy Ivanov. It is now part of the Global Water Futures research programme which is directed by Professor John Pomeroy of the University of Saskatchewan. The Transitions exhibition Cold Regions Warming was shown throughout the first “Leaders Day” on November 1 in the high-level Blue Zone at COP26. It had a prominent position in front of the Science Pavilion (organised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Meteorological Organisation, and the UK Met Office). It was immediately adjacent to the Cryosphere Pavilion and the Water Pavilion. In the evening, a presentation was featured at the party opening of the Cryosphere Pavilion (– attachment; Trevor Davies presenting a slide of Ivanov working in the field). Below are two of the Transitions paintings from the COP26 exhibition, which was a joint event with UNESCO. Transitions has produced almost 150 paintings, and accompanying scientific material, in total.


painting 1



Oil on canvas.

I enjoy surreal painting. It helps me express my emotions; something which is important to me. I know that scientists also have emotional responses to what they are seeing and studying. But, in their public statements, they are careful to express themselves in objective terms, based on the rational methods and reporting of science. Because I am an artist, I am allowed to portray myself in a way which expresses some of my feelings.

Here I am below the current snout of the Peyto Glacier, amidst the new and barren landscape revealed by the glacier’s rapid retreat. Modelling by the scientists shows that the glacier could have almost completely vanished by the end of the Century. Although barren, the newly-emerged post-glacial depositional landscape does show tiny specks of green – the first plants are already moving in. They are shown in my glass. Also in my glass is the beige-yellow glacial silt of the depositional landscape, and cryoconite. Cryoconite, the scientists explained to me, is a cocktail of materials which accumulates each year on the glacier’s surface. It consists of ash and soot from vegetation fires, algae, bacteria, viruses, and seeds. It has been growing in abundance over the years, accelerating the glacier’s decline, and is washed-off by the annual melt-water to form dark deposits below the snout. It aids the growth of seedlings and moss. It is an important part of the greening process, driven by the quickly-warming climate. At what point in the future will the blue-white icescape behind me be transformed to green?

I also audio-record the sound of the glacier. The ice-driven katabatic wind; the wind-driven snow particles in late winter; the torrents of meltwater in summer; the splitting and crashing of the collapsing glacier. The record-player is my surreal expression of this. It is also a way, for me, to emphasise the importance of the painstaking recording of scientific data on Peyto the glacier. Observations first started more than 120 years ago, making it the longest-studied glacier in North America, and are continuing with the sophisticated instrumental network of Global Water Futures. In another 120 years there will only be the record left.


painting 2


Oil on canvas.

“The oil trains traversing the Canadian Prairies seemed endless. Eventually they did end. Is this painting prophetic? Transporting oil in this way presents risks, from spills and contamination. In 2013 the derailment of a train carrying oil from the geological formation in southern Saskatchewan led to an explosion, and the deaths of 47 people in Lac Mégantic, Quebec.”

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