Fascinating climate exhibition at Barnstaple Pannier Market

Man taking photograph of girl holding a sign on beach

Young North Devonians have created a new response to local flooding risks with the help of world-leading climate photographer Gideon Mendel. In September, as part of a Beaford Arts commission, Gideon visited North Devon to help local children explore what their environment might be like in 2050. 

In 2021, North Devon and Torridge District Councils participated in detailed research to establish how sea level rise could affect flood risk across the Taw-Torridge estuary. The findings show that more areas may be at risk of coastal change than previously thought, which highlights the significant impacts of climate change, particularly on coastal communities.

As part of his visit, Gideon led a masterclass with 18 local children aged 9 and 10 and their parents, exploring how rising tides may affect places they know and love during their lifetimes. The children went on to make placards asking the question of what their favourite North Devon location will be like when they are the grown-ups.

Over the days that followed Gideon created portraits of the children holding their signs on location, resulting in a brand-new collection of work called ‘When I’m 40’.

“Their statements are a powerful and direct challenge to older generations” said Gideon, of the placards created by the participants, “from the generation who had no part in creating the environmental mess that they might be living with in 2050.”

Gideon Mendel is an internationally renowned photographer who has been documenting conflict, change and social issues on a global scale since the early 1980s. In 2007, he began work on ‘Drowning World’, a major project about flooding and his response to the climate crisis. Documenting a variety of flooded locations internationally, his images have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.

Images from Gideon’s ‘Drowning World’ series and his new ‘When I’m 40’ collection will be exhibited side by side as part of an international Climate Festival in Barnstaple’s newly refurbished Pannier Market in November.

This marks the first event to be supported by the Cultural Development Fund, a sum of money recently awarded to North Devon Council by Arts Council England, on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media. It will open on the evening of Friday 3rd November 2023, UNESCO’s International Day for Biosphere Reserves, and finishes on Friday 17th November.

For more information, including opening time for the exhibition visit beaford.org/whenim40.