To kick us off, we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Pradissitto. Jasmine is an artist and Visiting Lecturer for the School of Engineering. She also studied at LSBU.
Jasmine has been a key player in developing the first event in the series and will be delivering a number of sessions during the conference.
To start with, can you let us know what you do and why you’re involved in the event series?
I am a physicist with a Ph.D. from 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 STEAM 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. 3kg alone can absorb the 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 supports 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 its 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 things most prized attributes in any industry, is not something that simply happens in a vacuum or an allocated time; it’s 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 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, since my path to academia wasn’t the usual one, it was the wonderful Paul Gillard now sadly deceased, who gave me a chance to embark on a degree when this seemed closed to me and then Prof. Larry Dunne recommended I do a Ph.D. at UCL, during which time I returned to LSBU to do some teaching. I also was commissioned many times as Artist in Residence to create work for the university; one of the big pendulum pieces is up in the K2 building foyer. As an institution, it 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 Faculty, who have been so amazing in their generosity of time and spirit. I simply wouldn’t have been able to make what I have without them.
I still do some teaching on a visiting basis in 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’s 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 install a large sculpture for 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 nitrogen dioxide (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 situated by the South Circular, the resultant busy road produces large quantities of diesel fumes containing NOx which threaten a bee’s ability 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 bees to find their food and pollinate the flowers that grow there. We also will 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 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 couldn’t be any more synchronous as apart from COVID, 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 realize we don’t 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 gets together many 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.
For more information and to register for this event, which will be delivered online, visit the event page.
We look forward to ‘seeing’ you there!
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 become never more meaningful than it is now at a time of global pandemic and yet the mobilisation that has been achieved to save those closest to us has been remarkable and as 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, and more importantly so that we can start a similar mobilisation for climate change, we asked our staff, students and local community to submit a photo that captures a moment in time of their experience of lockdown/quarantine. It could be anything from a noticeable positive change in the environment, something they’ve created or an act of kindness or an image that captures their feelings. This is an opportunity to see some of the photos they have taken during this period of relative stillness. Jasmine Pradissitto also shares her video ‘700 Million Breathes’.