An exhibition highlighting the impact of climate change across the globe will open in the Lake District this autumn.
Images from a Warming Planet is a collection of photographs by Ashley Cooper whose book of the same name will be published simultaneously.
The opening of the exhibition, at the Archive Gallery at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, will mark the start of the Kendal Mountain Festival which brings together lovers of the outdoors from across Britain and beyond. The Gallery has featured a series of exhibitions annually to launch the festival, including work by photographer Henry Iddon, and William Heaton Cooper’s drawings of Lakeland crags used in the definitive Fell and Rock Climbing Club climbing guides to the area, and functions as a centre of interpretation of landscape, as well as a showcase for the Heaton Cooper archive.
Ambleside-based Cooper, 54, has amassed world’s largest collection of pictures documenting climate change on every continent, from the Inuit communities of the Arctic to the coral atoll islands of the Pacific Ocean.
His book includes more than 500 dramatic images which, he says, are truly shocking: “I passionately believe that climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced.” A selection of the photos will be on display at the studio, and the book – with a foreword by leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt – will be on sale.
Said Cooper: “I have spent the last 13 years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the impacts of climate change and in that time have probably witnessed more of its impacts than anyone else. The book and this exhibition come from the heart. My images are a wakeup call to show how climate change is already impacting all around the world.”
His work illustrates the causes of climate change and how these changes are impacting people, landscapes and biodiversity around the planet. Among the most striking images is that of a dead polar bear which, a tracking device proved, had walked some 500 miles in search of food when there was no sea ice on the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago; polar bears can only hunt seals for food on sea ice.
Another, illustrating the way forward, shows the founder of an ashram in India, a big and modern community whose entire site is powered by 100% renewable energy.
“I have tried to look at what we can do to mitigate the worst excesses of climate change and prevent it from happening. I truly believe that this exhibition and book will play a real and significant role in alerting people to the dangers posed and motivate action. Some of the images are shocking, but I have always strived to create original, dramatic and stunning images.”
He added: “You have to remain optimistic otherwise there’s no point continuing. This is an issue about which every one of us can do something to make a difference. We all have a carbon footprint; we are all responsible.”
Director of the studio, Becky Heaton-Cooper, said: “We are very proud to be hosting this crucial exhibition in association with the Kendal Mountain Festival. We have long been admirers of Ashley’s work as a photographer, but we are also clearly supporters of his message. Looking at his photos is a roller-coaster experience, and we hope that this can indeed by a life-changing show.”
Images from a Warming Planet will run from Thursday November 17 until the end of the year. Free admission. Open daily, 9-5.30. 015394 35280