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In The Studio: Emma Kathleen Thomas: A tapestry of species


BBC World Service

TX Date

6th Jul 2021


Eske Kath


Kristine Pommert


"You really made it work and sound like the art matters. The focus on the ideas makes for a stimulating programme, and it’s important stuff."

Simon Pitts, Commissioning Editor

Emma Kathleen Thomas was confronted with the fragility of life at a young age. The British-Mexican artist lost both of her parents early, and this painful experience has made her passionate about preserving the rich variety of life on earth, protecting the planet for her young children and – she hopes – instilling in them the confidence to bring children into the world themselves one day.

To mark International Day for Biological Diversity 2021, Emma has been planning an ambitious collaborative artwork: a tapestry of large-scale images of endangered species, laid out in different-coloured clothes and visible from the air, which will unfold in real time across the planet’s surface. The project will involve participants from countries including Australia, Ghana, the UK and the US, who will create images as diverse as the white-necked picathartes, a bird living in Africa for 44 million years and now critically endangered, and the golden paintbrush, a prairie flower that is disappearing due to the loss of its habitat.

Each image will be completed at exactly 17:00 local time, creating a ‘Mexican wave’ of endangered species around the globe, with audiences worldwide following online. Danish visual artist Eske Kath joins Emma in Copenhagen as she oversees the Danish leg of the project – a huge image featuring the great yellow bumblebee, laid out in a sports ground in the Danish capital – and finds out how some of the other participating groups have fared.

Highlighted as Pick of the Day in the Guardian guide.