David Hawkins | Artist

Climate Emergency Gallery

‘If we pollute the air, water and soil that keeps us alive and well, no amount of money will save us.

  David Suzuki  |  Planet before Profit

Planet on Fire

Mixed Media | 65 x 47cm | 2021

Too busy?

Photograph | 65 x 47cm | 2021

Plastic Pollution

vanGogh Wheatfield With CrowsThe scientific name for crow is ‘corvid’ – menacingly close to the name of our current global health crisis, which is wreaking, not only a devastating death toll, but also a deterioration in the mental health of so many.

In European folklore crows have long been seen as harbingers of death, and it was crows that Van Gogh painted in one of his last works before he committed suicide.  The canvas ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ was painted while he was suffering from severe depression and it expresses his darkest premonitions.

Equally global and devastating is our climate crisis, of which our love affair with plastic, now littering our countrysjde, is but one example.  Nature has become so entangled with plastic —  sometimes it becomes difficult to see one from the other. And of course these two worldwide catastrophes are joined painfully at the hip.

Van Gogh said this about his painting:  ‘Wheat is not only people’s primary form of sustenance, but also symbolic of the ripening and reaping of human life.  I had no difficulty in expressing my sadness and extreme loneliness, but also all that I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside – the brush almost fell from my hand.’  The path was an image he used when preaching a sermon based on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, where Pilgrim is weighed down by the road of life that feels so long, and yet rejoices because he knows the eternal city is waiting at the end of the journey.

Crows 2

Mixed Media | 65 x 47cm | 2021

Crows 4

Co-creation with Andy Holden, Photographer

Mixed Media | 65 x 47cm | 2021

Plastic Pollution

2018 has seen carrier bags become the latest culprits of pollution.  Yet backlit by the sun they become angels, and remind us to look for ‘heaven in ordinary’.  The Celts celebrated the sacred in everyday life.  Even our plastic bags ‘caught in a thicket’ can pose as messengers on Jacob’s ladder, in Mary’s parlour or over the shepherds’ fields. 

As Donald Allchin used to say, ‘the mundane is the edge of glory’.

Plastic Pollution 5

'This is the gate of heaven'

53 x 42cm | 2018

Plastic Pollution 1 | "The Gate of Heaven" | 53x43cm

Plastic Pollution 6

'Hail, you who are highly favoured'

53 x 42cm | 2018

Plastic Pollution 2 | "Hail, you who are highly favoured" (After Fra Angelico) | 53x43cm

Plastic Pollution 7

'I bring you Good News'

53 x 42cm | 2018

Plastic Pollution 3 | "I bring you Good News" | 53x43cm
David Hawkins Plastic Pollution 4

Plastic Pollution 8

'The Angel of Death in Exodus 12'

53 x 43cm | 2019

The Lord’s angel of destruction killed the firstborn male children of Egypt as God’s final plague. However, all the Israelite boys were spared so long as the household splashed lamb’s blood on their door posts and lintels. This event became known as The Passover and has been celebrated on the anniversary by Jewish families ever since. The Passover foreshadowed the crucifixion of Jesus, which took place at the time of the annual festival, and enabled sinful human beings to be forgiven and reconciled to God.

Plastic Pollution 9

'The Angel of Death in 2 Samuel 24'

53 x 43cm | 2019

God’s angel of death was seen by King David with a sword extended over Jerusalem. The angel had been sent to wreak plague on Israel because David had sinned. Reconciliation took place and David built an altar and made a peace offering to the Lord on the site on which his son Solomon would build the temple.

How are the mighty fallen?

The quotation ‘How are the mighty fallen?’ is from David’s lament in the Old Testament’s second book of  Samuel.  David mourns the loss of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, both who have fallen in battle.  The comparison between fallen trees and those fallen in combat may seem over dramatic, and morphing sap into blood, over sentimental.  However, trees are such a vital part of our environment, that dramatic stop lights are required to draw attention to the frequent carnage of tree felling on building sites or on land destined for cash crops.  The callous disregard toward trees, over thousands of years, has led to the de-forestation of Britain, and more recently, the Amazon — with worldwide consequences for climate change.  There’s a danger in anthropomorphism – whether talking to trees or hugging them — however, they live in supportive communities, communicate with and feed one another and deserve to be treated as the sophisticated eco-system that they are.

As well as being victims of the chainsaw, the reasons why trees fall are many.  Old age, disease, storms, wildfires and flooding, to name a few.  However, ‘death by natural causes’ is all too rare.  Soil erosion on our uplands and the frequent swelling of rivers is loosening tree roots and making them more vulnerable to storms.  Also, the increase in tree diseases is due largely to human interference with respect to land use.

So the question ‘How are the mighty fallen?’ needs an answer whenever we come across a fallen tree.

Tree Disease

'Ash dieback – after Grunewald’s Crucifixion'

Mixed Media | 50x40cm | 2021

Ash dieback 2

Mixed Media | 65x47cm | 2021

Ash dieback 3

Mixed Media | 65x47cm | 2021

Ash dieback, like many other tree diseases caused by imported pathogens, is a kind of crucifixion.  The tree was innocent and has been put to death as a result of irresponsible, unjust and callous hands – like Jesus, a third of the way through life.  This denies us two thirds of the tree’s capacity to capture carbon emissions, as well as countless other benefits to humans and wildlife.

The Christian tradition has often depicted the cross of Jesus as a tree – in poetry and hymnody as well as in art.  Calvary’s tree stands at the midpoint of universal salvation, between the Tree of Good and Evil in Genesis and The Tree of Life in Revelation.

Moors on Fire

The wildfires on Barden and Saddleworth moors, as a result of extreme drought, not only blacken the landscape and pollute the air, but the fire creeps underground destroying the peat – one of the earths most effective means of carbon capture.

Air Pollution

Air Pollution 1

Mixed Media | 65x47cm | 2021

Poor air quality is the largest risk to public health in the UK, according to the Environmental Audit Committee 2010.  Long term exposure to air pollution can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer.

The World Health Organisation estimate that a third of deaths as a result of strokes, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

The chief substances causing air pollution are: carbon monoxide, sulphur, nitrogen and carbon dioxide methane, ground-level ozone, lead, and particulate matter.

The main sources of air pollution are: fossil fuel energy companies, industry, road and rail transport, agriculture and domestic fuel emissions.

Energy

Two powerful Behemoths

‘We have two powerful Behemoths with locked horns looking for weaknesses to exploit.  We know which one will win in the end, but we don’t know if that win will come in time to matter.  COP26 must be about accelerating the pace.’

Bill McKibben
Schumann scholar
Middlebury College, Vermont
Founder of climate Campaign group 350.org

Sheep fleeces for insulation

A local sheep farmer told me he gets 10p for a fleece, and a neighbour simply burns them.  There’s no longer a fashion for woolly jumpers and the wealth that built Yorkshire and the Cotswolds from the wool trade is no more.  At the same time there are more houses being built in the UK than at any time since the war.  Wool’s been used for insulation since ancient times – it avoids the use of plastics and it keeps our sheep warm through the coldest winters – why not us?

Sheep’s wool insulation is also highly effective in keeping food products at the correct temperature, and it’s estimated that it’s 60% more effective than polystyrene packaging.  Tests show that it can keep food safely chilled for up to 24 hours.

London Planes

Resistance to pollution

The London Plane is a cross between the Oriental Plane and the American Sycamore.  It was hybridized in Spain or Southern France in about 1650 and brought to Britain in 1680.  Since then it’s proved remarkably resistant to pollution hence its predominance in urban environments, especially London where it remains the most numerous species.

The spherical male and female fruits hang on ‘strings’ on the same tree all winter.  The flowers shed pollen in May and June.  Close up each sphere bears many flowers, each with six to nine crimson stigmas, which develop into a fruit called an achene.

To celebrate the Plane’s resistance to pollution I’ve invested it, playfully, with a wide variety of borrowed fruits and decorations.

‘It’s never too late to do as much as we can.

Greta Thunberg