'Merseyside Totemy' is a new public artwork that visualises statistics and figures related to the impact of climate change on the Liverpool City Region, one of the areas most at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change.
The monumental work by artist Alicja Biala addresses the urgent issue of the impact of climate change on Merseyside, and will be open to the public at St Nicholas Place, Princes Dock from 14 July 2022, remaining in situ for two years.
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in partnership with Liverpool BID Company, the work, part of Biala’s Totemy series and formed of three totems, brings together statistics around climate change aiming to visualise the issues Merseyside faces in terms of rising sea levels and flooding by situating them using local examples.
Each 4.5m totem features 3 ribbon flags pointing to three areas of Merseyside threatened by rising sea levels: Liverpool City Centre, Formby and Birkenhead. The flags reference international maritime signals, an alphabet of phrases used by ships around the world to communicate with one another.
Visitors can digitally interact with each totem via the QR codes at the base of the sculptures to access information on the data that determines its proportions, gathered by the artist and researchers Jason Kirby and Timothy Lane from Liverpool John Moores University. The data represented shows what Merseyside could look like in the year 2080 if ice caps continue to melt and sea levels continue to rise at their current speed. Children in the region will be around retirement age in 2080, meaning that they will experience these effects of climate change within their lifetimes.
With data around climate change typically being presented to the public in an intangible and unrelatable way, Merseyside Totemy aims to strike a hopeful note with visitors. By acknowledging that the effects of climate change are already being felt, the conversation must shift towards the positive possibilities for mitigation and action, rather than prevention.
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and Liverpool BID Company, with production supported by Arup and Castle Fine Arts Foundry.
About the Artist
Alicja Biala is a Polish artist working across a range of different media and scales. Biala initially gained attention with her large-scale public paintings, followed by her politically charged Polish Cut-Out series. She has since worked across multiple scales, ranging from architectural sculptures to large interior sculptural lighting, etchings, paintings, and more. Her work incorporates a mixture of pagan themes that bring the political and personal spheres of contemporary life into close proximity. She has received widespread press, multiple awards, and is in numerous private and national collections. Biala is currently studying at Royal College of Art and Royal Drawing School in London.