Look down! Public art draws attention to water pollution problems

A public art project in London is raising awareness about pollution in local lakes and rivers.

Artwork a reminder of our impact on the environment, artist Erica Dornbusch says

Darryn Rae's artwork is one of three public art pieces located near the splash pad in Ivey Park, as part of London's catchbasin community public art initiative. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Some of London's storm drains have been transformed into works of art, as part of an initiative to raise awareness about pollution in our lakes and rivers.

The city unveiled its catchbasin community public art initiative on Tuesday at Ivey Park, where three of the storm drains are located.

The artwork is a reminder that whatever goes down the drain — including litter such as plastic and cigarette butts — ends up in local water systems.

"Every cigarette butt doesn't seem like a big deal when someone throws it away, but it's one of the biggest polluters in the river," said Marianne Griffith, the manager of Green Economy London.

The environmental group teamed up with the City of London and the London Arts Council for the public art initiative.

Six local artists were selected to create "mini-murals" around some of the city's 32,000 storm drains or catchbasins.

"It begins with this problem that we have, this environmental problem, and what does the artist community do about this? And that's where things really get interesting," said Jeremy Jeresky, the curator of public programs and learning with the London Arts Council.

Erica Dornbusch's artwork, which features several fish swimming out of the storm drain, reflects our relationship with the environment and the impact pollution has on the natural wildlife. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Erica Dornbusch, one of the artists whose work can be found in Ivey Park, hopes the initiative will help spark a conversation in the community.

"There's things that we do when we're participating and being in our environment that we're not really aware the impact of," said Dornbush, adding that the art acts as a gentle, daily reminder.

The other sites for the initiative are Springbank Park, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre and the Lambeth Area.

The London Arts Council is also supporting catchbasin public art at the London Brewing Co-operative, which also recently installed a LittaTrap to keep litter out of the storm drain.

Holly Pitchette's artwork which includes English phrases reminding people "All drains lead to the river" and "Protect the water." Pitchette also plans to add Cree syllabics to her piece. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)


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