Cow-car and colossal canaries celebrate clean air in Festival of Thrift’s Tees Valley-wide outdoor art exhibition

Cow-car is making a return trip to the Tees Valley region and joining an amazing array of other thought-provoking and unusual artworks on the theme of clean air for the second VIEWPOINTS project which bookends this year’s Festival of Thrift.

The second year of the festival’s art-focused offshoot features a lung cleaning station, a giant artwork created with ink made from exhaust fumes, dancers wearing pollution-sensing costumes, enormous painted canaries, an extraordinary green house and a series of mindful observation pavilions, which will be located across the Tees Valley from 12 – 19 September.

Aimed at prompting discussions about sustainability, with a focus on one of the 2019 Festival of Thrift’s key themes of clean air, this year’s VIEWPOINTS launches just ahead of the seventh annual celebration of sustainable living, which takes place at Kirkleatham on the weekend of 14 and 15 September.

Cabinet of Curiosity, whose striking paper-based artworks, left,  have been exhibited nationally and internationally, are exhibiting an extraordinary green house at Darlington Indoor Market.

In the nineteenth century, green spaces within urban environments were identified as the ‘lungs of the city’ due to their air purifying qualities. This architectural installation will showcase contemporary fabrication techniques using materials that reduce toxicity in the home and will contain a living environment of plants that possess the most effective air cleaning properties.

HALDANE, by Colin Davies, is an enormous artwork taking over the side of the TWI Technology centre*. Installed using a “dazzle” camouflage technique, as shown in a the photo at the top showing the work in progress, which was used on ships during the First World War, the artwork will feature canaries, which were often used in mining to signify the presence of toxic gases. HALDANE gives a visual nod to Teesside’s shipbuilding heritage as well as connecting us to our mining past.

Sally Hogarth, whose stunning structures and artworks, left, have been featured at high profile international exhibitions and festivals in London, is creating a a series of pavilions which invite visitors to mindfully reconnect with nature through simple observation. Sit, Stop on Redcar seafront, will offer a unique viewpoint to a fascinating area of the Tees Valley allowing people to “simply sit and observe the nature before you. Draw what you see watch and observe or simply take time to connect with the surroundings”.

At Middlesbrough railway station Dawn Felicia Knox’s Transpire/Respire/Inspire installation will allow people to step inside a glowing cube filled with plants, light… and breathe! This bold and immersive installation, right, will function as a lung cleaning station, a fresh air portal filled with plants that are actively cleaning the air and removing the toxins that are released from the modern built environment.

Peter J Evan’s unique work at Palace Arts in Redcar will use Air-InkTM – ink created from recycled exhaust fumes. You see, breathe, feel is a thought-provoking artwork that will showcase pollution in its physical form making a usually invisible environmental issue quite literally visible. Peter, left, is working with Graviky Labs of India, who have pioneered this extraordinary process.

Two of the Viewpoints’ works will feature as part of the festival’s opening parade, A Breath of Fresh Air’, led by Stellar Projects, from Kirkleatham to Redcar seafront which starts at 6.30pm on Friday 13 September.

Cow-car, by sculptor and art-car-maker Andy Hazell, which the public took to their hearts when it featured as part of last year’s VIEWPOINTS project, is making a welcome return as part of the parade.

The steel figure of a cow welded onto the roof of a VW car presciently aimed to make people aware of the fact that today’s burger habit means that intensively-farmed cows are producing methane in quantities that rival car emissions, and asks “perhaps we need to think about what we eat and its effect on our lovely planet”.

Another striking artwork that will feature as part of the parade is a large-scale, futuristic dance performance, Human Sensor, by Kasia Molga, pictured left. Performing in data sensitive costumes that illuminate and showcase how human bodies can react to daily exposure to air pollution, the performance can be ‘utilised’ as a sensor informing other town and city dwellers about the air conditions.

Festival of Thrift director, Stella Hall, said: “Art is a powerful way to make people think about serious issues differently.  This year’s VIEWPOINTS artworks are designed to provoke thoughts about the importance of everyone’s right to enjoy clean air.

“We’re also celebrating the clean air we enjoy in the Tees Valley to challenge misconceptions of the area as a polluted industrial landscape.”

VIEWPOINTS by Festival of Thrift has been created with support from Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Cllr Shane Moore, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Culture and Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said “The Festival of Thrift is one of the region’s large-scale stand-out events, going from strength to strength every year and drawing in visitors from across the UK. The community event is key in building cultural vibrancy and developing our ideas of how to build a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

“It just goes to prove that Tees Valley is bursting with things to do, places to see and stories to tell and that our region-wide events are evidently putting Tees Valley on the map as a fast-growing visitor destination.”

Further information about Viewpoints by Festival of Thrift is available at #FreeEntry #ViewpointsTV

* The Centre for Materials Integrity is receiving up to £4,054,821 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.  Established by the European Union, The European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

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