Ice Is Cool – Artist’s response to John Tyndall, “Ice Flowers”

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Pamela McKinlay


Report from the Art+Water, art and science project 2019.

Ice at the Margins was a series of woven panels made in response to “The Forms of Water in Clouds and Rivers, Ice and Glaciers”, written by John Tyndall in 1872. Tyndall has been called the “father of climate change” and his work on the properties of gases to absorb and transmit radiant heat led to speculation on how fluctuations in water vapour could be related to climate, and how these gases help to moderate temperature on planet Earth. His book has never been out of print. Noting that a leading international climate research centre is named after him1, I am interested in the significance of Tyndall’s contribution to the history of science, and the continuing effects of greenhouse gases on changes in the cryosphere and impacts on water security. My focus for the Art+Water project was “ice”, and my muse was Tyndall’s historical “ice-flowers” experiment.2

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Author Biography

Pamela McKinlay, Dunedin School of Art, Te Kura Matatini ki Otago/Otago Polytechnic

Pam McKinlay ( ORCID No 0000-0002-1731-6437) has a background in applied science and history of art from the University of Otago. As an artist, she is a maker predominantly in weaving, ceramics, and photography, and works in collaboration with other artists in community outreach and education projects around the theme of climate change, sustainability, and biodiversity.