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Before the Covid-19 pandemic came the global financial crash of 2008. Before then, we all went through the Y2K panic – remember that? – and even further back in history, the bubonic plague.
A new exhibition addresses some of the major world events that impacted the human race, long before any of us had heard the word ‘coronavirus’. And it’s doing it through the medium of the moment – the face mask.
Australian artist Angela Morris Winmill has created a series of bespoke face coverings as a reminder of the challenges the human race has already overcome – and the serious challenges we still face alongside Covid-19.
Morris-Winmill created the masks during lockdown as part of her ongoing exploration into the effects of human consumption on the environment.
“I was making regular surgical masks for local charities and the NHS and over the many hours I was doing so, began to consider that they will likely become an everyday clothing item soon. I wondered how long it would be before designer fashion brands released their own versions and wondered how extravagant they may become in the future,” says the artist.
“I’m fascinated by the extent to which the human race affects the environment and this series of work explores that,” says Morris-Winmill. “I hope that visitors to the exhibition will be able to enjoy the work whilst also considering the inspiration behind each piece.”
Key to the display – hosted virtually by London’s M1 Fine Art Gallery – is a mask composed of reclaimed computer parts priced at more than £1,000.
The online exhibition launches on the same day that face coverings become mandatory on public transport in the UK – and all proceeds from sales of the works are going to The British Lung Foundation.
Morris-Winmill cites her daughter’s diagnosis with chronic asthma before her first birthday as a major inspiration for her artwork in general, but particularly this collection.
“Raising my daughter, it was clear that her asthma was greatly affected by air pollution caused by transport and industry. This has always played heavily on my mind and creating these face masks during lockdown took me back to the feelings of helplessness I experienced for all those years,” she says.
You can see more images below or view the full exhibition online here.