• 1 October 2021
  • 00:00
  • —5 December 2021
  • 00:00

BACKLIT is delighted to be working with artist Joshua Sofaer and the Environment Agency on this exciting interdisciplinary exhibition, bringing art and the environment together to trigger some critical discussions. Joshua’s work focuses on how audiences engage with the world and has previously worked with Tate Modern, University College London and the Science Museum in London. This unique collaboration between the artist, the Environment Agency and the community will enable social engagement, allowing participants to feel some ownership of the final design – a plastic sculpture of a body weighing 98.66kg.

In the UK we produce 98.66kg of plastic waste per capita annually. The unbelievable truth is we are throwing away significantly more plastic than our own weight as an entire population, every single year. 

Joshua Sofaer says of the project’s conception and his involvement in the show:

"In 2019 I had the opportunity to shadow members of the Environment Agency Regulated Industry team as they conducted their checks on industrial sites, including one of the largest plastic recyclers in the UK and a giant pork pie factory. I also visited small ‘end of life’ workshops that depollute cars, materials recycling facilities, and illegal waste sites. It was an eye-opening experience. Then the pandemic struck, and the world changed. But one thing that hasn’t changed, and in fact is getting worse, is the amount of waste that we produce. Single-use PPE, which is saving lives, has only made this problem greater. This exhibition wants to raise some questions about the work of the Regulated Industry team and the scale of the plastic waste problem in the UK, including the waste produced by the creation and exhibition of art. I’m delighted to be working with BACKLIT and the Environment Agency on this project and looking forward to engaging with people across Nottingham.”

‘Regulated Exhibition’ will see BACKLIT Gallery transformed into a ‘factory’ where the public can drop off plastics in the Depot which will be accepted and sorted by Science Communicators. Throughout the exhibition, the Environment Agency (EA) will periodically regulate the processes undertaken and provide an insight into their work. There will be a film following the day in the life of a Regulated Industry officer at the Environment Agency and how they regulate and manage waste.

Mark Haslam, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency said:

“We have partnered with the BACKLIT Gallery in Nottingham and artist Joshua Sofaer to produce ‘Regulated Exhibition – a plastic human’ as part of our community engagement. Much of the plastic waste produced by individuals in the country ends up being sorted, processed, and disposed of at sites regulated by the Environment Agency.

The focus of the exhibition is to engage local communities to consider plastic usage through a sustainability lens. It also provides an ideal opportunity to raise awareness around the role the Environment Agency plays in protecting the environment through its regulation. This is the first time we have worked with the arts sector in the East Midlands to highlight environmental issues and show how the Environment Agency regulates and manages waste. We’re sure the exhibition will be highly successful in increasing awareness of how we all need to reduce, reuse, and recycle more of our waste and resources.”

The plastics collected from the public will be used to create a mould and human sculpture of a person representing the annual waste, which will then become part of the final show. The live ‘body cast’ will be carried out on 30 October by Richard Arm, Senior Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University and leader of the Flexural Composites Research Laboratory for the Advanced Textiles Research Group in the School of Art and Design.