Breathworks: Teaser for the Teaser Video

Above is a prototype for the Breathworks teaser video, which I created while working from home, using the underside of my duvet as a recording studio! It is my hope that this art–research project will ease anxiety, bring mindfulness to digital interactions and encourage people to have fun with limited resources. In case you missed my previous post, here’s a brief description of the concept, delivery and aims.

Breathworks is a participatory project that brings people together in the digital realm to creatively explore their relationship with their breath. The project will focus on presenting a series of audience-created ‘breathworks’ online. Broader discussions will touch upon wide-ranging themes, from air pollution and anxiety to yoga and mindfulness.

Breathworks is a new way of working for the commissioning gallery, Modern Art Oxford. It will contribute to the creative digital capacity within the organisation, establishing a model that can be applied to other projects in the future.  Breathworks will also support an organisational shift from online as a passive repository of information towards an engaged and proactive digital space that augments the artistic programme and provides meaningful and relevant platforms of exchange. 

The project will have a bespoke platform where content is uploaded and shared. This web platform will constantly evolve, complemented by existing social media channels. Implementation will be led by myself as freelance Creative Associate (Digital), and managed by MAO’s Digital Content Curator, Andrée Latham, with support from colleagues in Digital, Marketing & Communications at the gallery.

While we initially planned to launch the open call in August, its themes and aims have newfound relevance owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as physical exhibitions have been postponed or cancelled at the gallery. It is envisaged that Breathworks will play a more important role in the gallery’s programming throughout summer and into September, when the project outcomes will have a physical presence in the reopened gallery, depending on physical distancing regulations of course. It’s all up in the air. 

Email for more information. And make sure to follow @lucyartyoga and @mao_gallery on Instagram. 


Interview: On Breathing and Air Pollution

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 13.05.09


EC: Presenter, Emma Critchley; LS: Lucy Sabin.

EC: Lucy Sabin has made a composition from her yogic breaths. More than 50 breathing techniques recorded over a three-hour period. Through her installation, she invites audiences to stop and listen to these breaths through her headphones. It’s a space to focus on the often forgotten act of breathing and the importance of air itself.


EC: The quality of the air we breathe, and its relationship to our very existence, underlies Lucy’s work…

LS: Nine out of ten of us are now breathing polluted air, say the World Health Organisation.

Speaking about ‘air quality’ makes it sound abstract but actually, we’re talking about what makes air breathable. Good air is air that we can breathe without any adverse effects.

EC: To most plants, the fumes from cars and buses can be damaging. But Lucy has found and mapped a species of lichen that thrives off pollution –

LS: At the moment, there’s a lot of Xanthoria parietina […] which is the golden yellow, sort of scaly lichen that we often see on roadsides –

EC: – and she has exhibited the lichen using different mediums such as a micrograph video, filmed using a microscope.

LS: So, my idea was to show the lichen on three different scales. So you have the micro and then you have the macro and then you have the human scale. So you can either regard it with the naked human eye or use the magnifying glass. And it was about, I think, troubling, to a certain extent, the human perspective because we often, sort of, assume that what we see and what we experience is the truth. But when we look more closely at something, when we use perhaps a technological perspective as well, such as the microscope, we then see that there are these microcosms that exist all around us, all the time and air pollution is affecting species in ways that we can’t imagine. It’s affecting our lungs that we, perhaps on a daily basis, cannot imagine because the scale is different to what we’re used to perceiving.

Source: ‘Filth’, Art of Now, BBC Radio 4, [28 Jan 2020].


Latest Commission: Modern Art Oxford

‘The Yard’. Gallery entrance designed by KLH architects. Photo: MAO.

As  Creative Associate (Digital) at MAO, I am leading a community art project entitled ‘Breathworks’, which will launch during an Instagram takeover in August 2020. The aim of this pilot project is twofold. First, we are trying to engage digital audiences who might not attend the gallery in person. Second, we are also hoping to introduce conscious breathing as a mindfulness technique during browsing sessions.

Find out more via the Modern Art Oxford website.

Atmospheric Cartography: In Print and Online

Cartography is not simply a representation of an area. It is a process informed by perspective, purpose and values. Maps, in turn, inform the perspectives, purposes values of the navigators that use them.

Maps of airspaces are increasingly important for monitoring and communicating information about air pollution and climate change. Now is an opportune moment to constructively question the ontological and aesthetic rationale of what I call ‘atmospheric cartography’…

Read the online version here.

Research Interests: breath, phenomenology, embodiment, multi-species storytelling, entanglement, atmosphere, new materialisms, sensory maps, first-person geographies, citizen-science, cultural climatology.