Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, will be among the local environmental activists who will attend Goodwin’s event. As people walk or drive past, static photographs will seem to be alive, creating the impression that the individuals are struggling to breathe.
“I’m fascinated by how air both sustains and corrupts the body,” said Dryden, who is collaborating with Network Rail and Transport for London to find ideal locations for the artworks. Ella’s death, according to the artist, has “heightened consciousness of the environmental crisis” in the region. Ella lives and works in Lewisham.
Ella died in 2013 after an asthma attack. A coroner said “excessive air pollution” contributed to Ella’s death in a historic decision last year, adding that “the entire of Ella’s life was lived in close proximity to highly polluting roads.”
Rosamund Kissi-Debrah has been working to raise awareness about air pollution since her daughter’s death.
More than 1,300 drawings of Goodwin’s five-year-old son were included in Breathe, which was shown on an 8-metre-high screen of St Thomas’ hospital overlooking the Houses of Parliament. He will also appear in Breathe 2022 as an adolescent who grew up in Lewisham.
The piece is part of a larger celebration of Lewisham’s year as London’s borough of culture. They include a mass dance performance by 200 local artists showcasing the beneficial effect of migration in the region, as well as a celebration of Lewisham’s musical legacy, with Dave Okumu and Linton Kwesi Johnson and featuring pop, grime, afrobeat, jazz, world, classical, and punk music.