My consciousness about just how much Bangladesh is at the forefront of effects of Global Warming was raised after I read an article by Johann Hari in the Independent 20.6.08.
The article begins starkly by stating that, "Bangladesh, the most crowded nation on earth, is set to disappear under the waves by the end of this century – and we will be to blame." Hari goes on to report how "western profligacy and indifference have sealed the fate of 150 million people." He went on a month long trip to see for himself. The article continues to make dire and compelling reading. He describes how ten years ago the remote village of Munshigonj began to die by a process of "saline inundation" – salt water swelling up. Who can live without fresh water. We are not let off the hook and within the article it is stated:
"It is happening because of us. Every flight, every hamburger, every coal power plant, ends here, with this. Bangladesh is a flat, low-lying land made of silt, squeezed in between the melting mountains of the Himalayas and the rising seas of the Bay of Bengal. As the world warms, the sea is swelling – and wiping Bangladesh off the map."
Conservative figures are offered from the International Panel on Climate Change who said that by 2050 Bangladesh could lose 17% of its land and 30% of its food production.
I could not ignore such a damning article and responded in the way I know best. I started to formulate and idea for an artwork which could highlight in some way this appalling situation.
I started to read about Bangladesh. Climate would appear not to have been easy at any time for Bangladesh with Cyclones and Monsoons. The immediate problem was that this was accelerating due to Global Warming. A couple of things captured my Artistic Imagination and an idea started to formulate. Firstly about Jute production in Bangladesh. Within my work I like to take complex issues and pare them down so that I using the simplest of materials. Jute seemed to fit this bill and I knew from an early stage that I would be using this material within whatever work I decided upon. Next I read about "Floating Gardens" used by Farmers in rural areas of Bangladesh to grow sustenance crops. I immediately drew parallels with what we in England perceive as a garden – generally for leisure. Next I looked at the Bangladesh Flag and this materialised to me as a kind of garden with its green (grassy) background and a red circle which could translate as a rose bed. The elements were coming together and I decided I would create an "ENGLISH FLOATING GARDEN" loosely based on the Bangladesh flag and all furnishings etc on the garden would be covered in Jute.
This was created and launched on Lake Carter, situated within the Grounds of Lancaster University , on 9.3.09 – the beginning of ONE WORLD WEEK.