Earth Day at Somerset House

Somerset House celebrates Earth Day 2019 with an extended two-week programme bringing  together leading artists from across the world to present a series of large-scale installations and interactive events. As part of cultural centre’s year-round commitment to sustainability, the  programme explores different ways of engaging with climate change and sustainable living, from a  major new courtyard commission, to hands-on, family-friendly workshops. 

1. REDUCE SPEED NOW! © Justin Brice Guariglia.jpg

REDUCE SPEED NOW!  by Justin Brice Guariglia 

Tuesday 16 – Monday 29 April 2019, Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Free 

American artist Justin Brice Guariglia presents his  largest scale installation to date, REDUCE SPEED  NOW!, formed of nine large solar-powered LED  signs usually seen on motorways. In this new project commissioned by Somerset House, Guariglia brings together the critical voices of international activists, poets and philosophers to address the ecological crisis as a catalyst for social and political change.  A fortnight of installations and events exploring creative  responses to climate change

The Anxious Ocean and The Moon Bathers  by Hyphen-Labs 

22 March – 5 May, Great Arch Hall. Free 

2. Anxious Ocean and the Moonbathers © Hyphen Labs.jpg

A new installation from Somerset House Studios  residents, Hyphen-Labs, invites visitors to explore  an underwater world, exactly where Somerset House would have been below water hundreds of years ago.  Contributors include the 16-year-old Swedish political activist, Greta Thunberg, whose protests over the past year have since mobilised students across the world and recently inspired thousands of young people across the UK to protest against political inaction on climate change. Her speech sits alongside the voices of global indigenous elders, whose lives are deeply connected to nature and the preservation of ancient human wisdom. Another sign displays the poem Rise: From One Island to Another by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna, from the Marshall Islands and Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) respectively. The islanders’ poem demonstrates the interdependency of the world and forms a call for action to city dwellers in the face of an environmental crisis. Taking the form of graphics and 3D works, The Anxious Ocean and The Moon Bathers transports visitors to a dystopian, post-human future, far  away from the lives of modern-day Londoners, to illustrate how the lifestyle of society today may impact the ocean in years to come. The installation imagines the legacy of humanity through the eyes of the ocean, cautioning visitors against current damaging human behaviours and inviting them to act on their anxieties around climate change. 

Khaos Spirit by Serena Korda 

Tuesday 16 April – 10 June, Edmond. J Safra Fountain Court / Seamen’s Hall. Free 

Following her acclaimed installations at the National  Trust’s Speke Hall and The Hepworth Wakefield,  Wakefield, award-winning artist Serena Korda joins Somerset House’s Earth Day 2019 programme with a new, site responsive work exploring society’s relationship with the natural elements. Inspired by the Greek primordial goddess of air and mother of birds, Khaos, Korda raises a new flag above the Somerset House courtyard, with the design paying homage to a history of maritime warning flags. Accompanying the flag is an audio piece formed using a handcrafted aeolian harp, a musical

instrument named after the ancient Greek god of wind, Aeolus. Korda recorded the harp, which produces sound when a current of air passes through it, during an afternoon spent in and around the dome that holds Somerset House’s flag. Combined with additional field recordings of the flag, the resonance of the flagpole and wind data taken from an anemometer, which records wind speed, the resulting audio installation captures the voice of the air. It will be based in Seamen’s Hall for visitors to experience on ground level, and available on the Somerset House website.

Screening: Eating Animals 

Friday 26 April 19.00-20.30. Screening Room, South Wing. Tickets £12/£10 concessions 


Somerset House residents Dartmouth Films present a special preview screening of Eating  Animals, a new documentary based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Safran Foer, narrated by co-producer Natalie Portman, and directed by Christopher Quinn (God Grew Tired Of Us).  The documentary is an urgent, eye-opening look at the environmental, economic, and public  health consequences of factory farming. Tracing the history of food production in the United States, the film charts how farming has gone from local and sustainable to a corporate monster that offers cheap eggs, meat, and dairy at a steep cost: the exploitation of animals; the risky use of antibiotics and hormones; and the pollution of the world’s air, soil, and water. This special screening will be followed by a panel discussion with leading industry experts.

 Progress to Process: Interwoven with Makerversity 

Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 April. New Wing. Times and ticket prices vary, please check the website for more details 

Europe’s pioneering community of maker businesses and Somerset House Studios resident, Makerversity, present Interwoven, a weekend festival exploring the future of textile design in  creating sustainable change within the fashion industry and beyond.  Highlights include an interactive exhibition focusing on innovative textile approaches, cocurated with textile producers Bysshe Partnership and Doppelhaus in collaboration with sustainable fashion designer Eliza Collin. A series of workshops run alongside the showcase, 

including debates about bio-designing fabrics, fashion activism’s link to climate justice, and a textile clinic breaking down fabrics’ sourcing and production. Speakers include Central Saint Martins’ Sustainable Fashion Tutors, Clare Farrell and Alice Wilby. 

Voicing the Emergency: Finding a new language for climate change with Do The Green Thing 

Saturday 27 April. 12.00 – 16.00 Courtyard Rooms. Free; Drop In 

Over the last decade, Do The Green Thing has worked with more than 500 world-class  creatives including Sir Paul Smith, Rupi Kaur and David Shrigley to make films, posters, podcasts and products to inspire people to live more sustainably. In their first workshop with Somerset House, the collective invites visitors to explore new ways to talk about the global environmental breakdown and create their own protest posters to challenge it. Families and friends are all welcome to drop-in at any time during the workshop to join the movement towards  positive change. 

8. Edible Utopia.jpg

Edible Utopia: Mass Mushrooming 

Saturday 27 April. 11.00 – 12.30. South Wing. Pay What You Can (£2.50, £5, £7.50) 

This Earth Day Season features a special workshop to equip participants with the tools and skills needed to start their own mini mushroom farm. The hands-on, family-friendly session celebrates the magic of mushrooms, the integral role they play in the world’s eco-system, and gives attendees the chance to take away their own fledgling fungi to nurture at home. Mass Mushrooming is an extension of the educational food-growing project Edible Utopia  which looks at growing food in the underused and hidden parts of Somerset House and explores creative responses to sustainability. Edible Utopia is kindly supported by City Bridge Trust. 

Workshop: By the Code of Soil 

Sunday 28 April, 13.00 – 17.00. Courtyard Rooms, South Wing. Free; Drop In 

Artists Kasia Molga and Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) invite visitors to reflect on society’s relationship with soil in an interactive afternoon workshop. Visitors will get a unique insight into the pair’s fascinating STARTS (Science, Technology and the Arts) residency with the GROW Citizens’  Observatory and discover the process behind their audio-visual artwork, giving soil a digital voice.  This project is produced in collaboration with the GROW Observatory, and FutureEverything.

Address: Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA 

Transport: Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail: 

Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars 


Somerset House Facebook: 

Somerset House Twitter: @SomersetHouse 

Somerset House Instagram: @SomersetHouse 

Hashtag: #EarthDaySH