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Losing ice, a new exhibition by British photographer Zoe Salt and American explorer-artist James Sisti is on display in the Director’s Gallery until Friday 17 November.

The exhibition, showcasing artwork created for the 2022 High Level Route microplastics expedition, features a selection of photographs and mixed-media images of several regions in the Swiss/French Alps. The work on display, created by Zoe and James who were an integral part of the climbing team, features dramatic environmental changes throughout these regions, as well as actual data from several scientific survey sites and narrative elements encapsulating the obstacles and dangers encountered by the researchers.

The expedition followed in the footsteps of those who traversed the High Level Route during the 19th century ‘golden age of alpinism’. These early mountaineers were driven as much by science as sport and, following their lead, the expedition team collected snow samples from glaciers along the classic High Level Route which act as natural repositories for microplastics in the atmosphere. The expedition partnered with Dr Dusan Materic of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, who has developed a novel way of measuring micro and nano-plastics, and the samples collected during the expedition will allow Dr Materic to infer how much plastic is in the atmosphere and where it's coming from.

The expedition was conceived by Dr Al Gill and Robin Milner, initially curious as to whether the route was still viable after 160 years of climate change. As plans developed, their ambitions grew to encompass their work as citizen scientists and to communicate what environmental change looks like at altitude. The artists involved in the project were able to convey the reality of alpine global warming and create deep personal connections to the natural world. The expedition was supported by the Austrian Alpine Club (UK).

Other work from the expedition has been accepted for inclusion in the Lunar Codex Project. In collaboration with NASA’s Artemis programme, this project will archive works by artists from 157 different countries in ‘time-capsules’ at four different locations on the moon. 

Society Fellows and Members can see the exhibition on weekdays between 10.00am and 5.00pm. 

Find out more about the team's work with microplastics and visit Zoe Salt and James Sisti’s websites.

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