Exercise: A symbol for the present

I gave a lot of thought to this exercise, what message did I want to convey? How would I get that message across and who to commission to do it?

I wanted to choose as a symbol for the present something that represented the fragility of our planet and the effect we are having on this.

With the recent report that scientists are 95% certain that humans are responsible for the recent phenomenon of global warming I thought that I would like an image that could cause questioning and debate.

I decided that a melting glacier would be a good symbol for our time. Glaciers do melt when they meet the sea so it is a perfectly natural process, but is this happening more rapidly as a result of human activities?

When considering who to commission to do this work I immediately considered the photographer Sebastiao Salgado. I am a big fan of his work ever since I first saw his black and white photos at an exhibition. I had recently seen his exhibition at the Natural History Museum and thought that he would be ideal for the commission. It would be ideal if the photo also contained wildlife to emphasise the interaction of animals and their environment.

A little like the following photo


It was interesting to do this exercise, it makes you really think of how to convey a message or emotion in a single image. This is not easy to do! I took me a lot of time to think through what I wanted to convey and then how to do so – but well worth the effort!


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