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Jasmine Pradissitto

We would like to introduce to you Jasmine Pradissitto. Jasmine is an artist and Visiting Lecturer in the School of Engineering. She also studied at LSBU. Jasmine was a key player in developing the first event in the series and would be delivering presentations at a number of sessions during the conference.

To start with, can you let us know what you do and why you are involved in the event series?

I am a physicist with a PhD from University College London (UCL), an international artist, public speaker, and company director but most importantly, a creativity warrior who believes in the power of art, collaboration, and innovation to create a more sustainable future in an anthropogenic world. I am searching for ethics of progress in an accelerant world though my sculptures and installations, whilst sharing the STEM techniques I have developed over 20 years with tens of thousands of children, adults, businesses, and institutions. I believe creative thinking and action not only make us “future proof" in an increasingly automated world but also provide new perspectives on old problems that are as pertinent to our everyday relationships as they are to our professions.

Classically trained, I now combine traditional, hands-on practice with contemporary processes such as 3D printing and AR, to create sculptures that not only drive awareness but also intervene. One of my sculptures, ‘Breathe’, in pollution absorbing NoxTek, is soon to be installed off the second most polluted road in London. Some 3kg of the substance alone can absorb the nitrogen dioxide (NOx) in a room for a lifetime on a planet where 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air.

So, much of my work is about sustaining our most basic needs such as air and the bio web that continues to support us during a time of massive technological progress – needs which the pandemic has paradoxically allowed us to appreciate once more – that I see this event as one in which we can continue this mass mobilisation into a more sustainable future.

As an artist and scientist, what can we expect from the sessions you are delivering?

I believe that great paradigm-shifting acts of innovation and creativity arise from the culmination of small and medium acts experienced every day in our personal lives and our work. This ’Great Pause’, which has allowed so many of us time simply to ‘be’ and to think away from our normal busy lives, I hope can lead to ‘The Great Realisation" and ways that we can change how we deal with an increasingly anthropogenic climate-changing world.

For the last 20 years, I have worked with children; they are the most creative thinkers of all as they are uninhibited and think nothing of taking risks, playing, collaborating, and are enormously divergent and imaginative in their thinking. In an age where infinite knowledge is available to all, it is our imagination and how we link seemingly unrelated subjects which make us unique, and it is enormously good fun and wonderful for our sense of wellbeing at any age. But most importantly, it leads to innovative solutions to old problems.

Innovation, one of the most prized attributes in any industry, is not something that simply happens in a vacuum or during an allocated time; it is a way of living. Being creative, whether in the way we wear our socks or make a sandwich, forces our brain to make new connections, and daydreaming whilst we walk through the natural world allows those connections to incubate, resulting in new ideas.

My sessions will be a combination of demonstration, discussion, and presentation on why the Arts, the natural world and STEM, can lead us to a better future both as individuals and as a collective, caring for a planet inhabited by a wonderfully biodiverse set of species.

You studied at LSBU and you are now a visiting lecturer here so LSBU seems to be a bit of a second home to you. Tell us a bit about your time as a student and why you are still so closely affiliated to the university?

I have enormous affection for the university which I have had a relationship with, spanning many years.  As an undergraduate student, since my path to academia was not the usual one, it was the wonderful Paul Gillard, now sadly deceased, who gave me a chance to embark on a degree course when this seemed closed to me and then Prof. Larry Dunne recommended that I do a PhD at UCL, during which time I returned to LSBU to do some teaching. I was also commissioned many times as Artist in Residence to create works for the university; one of the big pendulum pieces is up in the foyer of the K2 Building. As an institution, LSBU has supported me both with space and technical know-how over the years and I am particularly fond of all the technicians in the Engineering/Design facilities, who have been so amazing in their generosity with their time and spirit. I simply would not have been able to make what I have without them.

I still do some teaching on a visiting basis on Creative Thinking and Drawing and I do see the university as a place of ingenuity, innovation, and wonderful collaborations, offering many students an opportunity which they might not otherwise receive elsewhere. And it is a privilege to see the students blossom, grow and leave with a sense that they can do almost anything.

What exciting projects do you have coming up?

We are just about to instal a large sculpture in the new bee meadow garden at The Horniman Museum; I have been working on it whilst we were in quarantine. “Flower Girl-For it was only upon the gentle buzzing of bees that she could awaken" is a NOx pollution absorbing sculpture in NoxTekTM, fabric, and metal which will be in situ, and will be documented for a year, in a newly created garden designed to attract pollinators. The museum has sustainability at its core but as it is situated by the South Circular, the busy road produces large quantities of diesel fumes containing NOx which threaten the ability of bees to find the flowers from which they get the pollen to create their honey. By creating this sculpture from a pioneering, sustainably created material that absorbs some of the NOx in the garden, we are helping the bees to find their food and pollinate the flowers that grow there. We will also be installing ‘Breathe’ later in the year on the Euston Road which is the second most polluted road in the country and you will find my butterfly and meadow inspired MethodTM ltd. eco-friendly edition bottles in supermarkets until the end of the year.

In terms of exhibiting, I am working towards a solo show in 2021, as well as group shows, details of which can be found on Instagram; and I have just created a short film, ‘700 Million’, which is a call to action for cleaner air.

Finally, what are your hopes for the conference and more importantly, for the future?

The timing of this conference could not be any more synchronous as apart from COVID-19, we still have climate change and biodiversity extinction to address. Yet, we have seen the power of global collaboration and the immediacy with which change can be mobilised when we feel directly threatened as individuals. As we emerge from the ‘Great Pause’, I believe we need to create a better ‘normal’ than we had before in which we realise that we do not need to consume in the quantities that we did; that nature is fundamental to our wellbeing and that it is only through collaboration that we can achieve the goals we must to survive. This conference brings together many people working in the areas which can create this change, as well as opening up the discussion to everyone. On a personal note, I am deeply honoured to have been asked to contribute, especially visually with my work, as art and how it can make us feel is so important in engendering change.

To check out Jasmine’s work, visit her website or visit her Instagram.

For more information on this event, visit the event page.

The Great Pause: A Virtual Exhibition

In a lifetime, the average person will take 700 million ‘breathes’ but for 7 million people each year, these are cut short due to high levels of atmospheric pollution. This global ‘breathe’ has never been more meaningful than it is now at the time of a global pandemic and yet the mobilisation that has been achieved to save those closest to us has been remarkable and as a result, the planet has had a chance to ‘pause’ to inhale and exhale, so that the skies are cleaner than they have been in decades.

To mark this event, and more importantly so that we can start a similar mobilisation for climate change, we asked each of our staff, students and members of the local community to submit a photo that captures a moment in time of their experience of the lockdown/quarantine. It could be anything from a noticeable positive change in the environment, something they have created or an act of kindness or an image that captures their feelings.

This is an opportunity to see some of the photos they had taken during the period of relative stillness. Jasmine Pradissitto also shares her video ‘700 Million Breathes’.

Jasmine Video final to share from Jasmine Pradissitto on Vimeo.