The Waters Are Coming…to Granary Square

…and so is The GreenHouse in the Lethaby Gallery

Supporting information for The Waters Are Coming Project | Find out more details here

Phil will also be showing two works related to the Climate Crisis and consequent rise in sea levels at The Greenhouse in the Letherby Gallery;

The Second Elizabethan Age – all that glistens is not gold

The Second Elizabethan Age has just drawn to a close in the UK.  Elizabeth ll’s 70 year reign coincided with unprecedented growth in prosperity (even if increasingly unequal), but this has come at a cost – a sustained rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from 310ppm in 1953 to 419ppm in August 2022. This work makes this cost visible as a starting point for wider discussion and action.

This work raises questions about whose golden age the last 70 years have been? And what has the cost been, both in terms of climate change and in widening inequalities between the western democracies and everyone else and within those democracies where income gaps have widened enormously. Creative solutions, creative inspiration, creative engagement with communities of place & interest are central to achieving climate justice.

What the work is about:

Queen Elizabeth ll came to the throne in 1953, the year before the artist was born. Her reign and the artist’s lifetime have coincided with unprecedented growth in prosperity – from seasonally adjusted Gross Domestic Product of £122,480m in Quarter 1 of 1955 to £569,719 in Quarter 2 of 2002, with significant temporary falls arising from the banking crisis of 2008 and the Covid pandemic in 2020 bucking an upward trend.  GDP rose 465%. (Source: ONS)

But this has come at a cost.  In 1952 annual global carbon emissions were 7bn metric tonnes. By 2021 they had reached an estimated 36.4bn metric tonnes – a 520% increase. (Source:  Our World in Data and CO2-Earth). There are few signs of them slowing down.

Mirroring these emissions over the same period, annual global temperatures have risen by 0.8° C (and to 1.04°C  over pre-industrial levels). (Source:

Intimately related to these changes is the rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – from c310ppm in 1950 to 419ppm in August last year. (Source: NASA).  350ppm was, at the time of the Millennium, considered to be the ‘safe’ maximum level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and gave its name to campaigning organisation  We have already overshot by almost 70ppm. (Source: NOAA)  This sculpture makes this consequence visible by presenting a human-scale, three-dimensional graph.

The post representing 1998, the year we passed 350ppm, is the first orange one, that for 2015, when we passed 400ppm, the first in red – a level not seen for millions of years.

Wetter: The Waters Are Coming

This work was in preparation for Phil’s MA degree show at Central Saint Martins in 2020 when Covid hit.  It was also a starting point for the project to programme the fountains in Granary Square taking place from 18th – 23rd April.  It was left behind on lockdown and only fully recovered in summer 2021.  Since then a prototype has been twice exhibited (photos).  This will be the first opportunity to exhibit it as originally conceived – albeit as a prototype.

A free-standing installation presents viewers with 2m columns of water in the Gallery, such that they witness the reality of 2m rise in sea levels.  My original intention was to put the, now probable scale of sea level rise in front of people, to better understand what is happening as a result of global warming. Two tubes are marked with the rising IPPC 1999 to 2019 estimated hights of maximum sea level rise this century .

Find out more about the Greenhouse Exhibition here