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There’s a pop-up exhibition in Brixton where art is made from London air pollution

Written by
Kyra Hanson

You might think that ink made from pollution would be gritty, oily and stink of exhaust fumes. But not the silky-smooth, jet black liquid created by Graviky Labs. Don’t believe us? Get down to Brixton’s pop-up Clean Air Gallery today until March 29, where you see the inky art for yourselves and even have a doodle with the pens. 

The exhibition is part of an ongoing campaign with Tiger Beer, which has invited artists from the UK’s most polluting cities – London, Glasgow, Leeds, Southampton and Nottingham to create something beautiful from their hometowns using the sooty stuff. Artists who will be showing work at the gallery include Mr Doodle, Roderick Mills, Jonny Hannah, Josh Parkin and Good Wives and Warriors.

Just one nifty Air-Ink pen mitigates around 40 minutes’ worth of diesel fumes, removing particles that would otherwise be clogging up our lungs. Can your average biro do that? Anirudh Sharma, the man behind this wizardry says ‘it’s about turning the bad of the city into the beauty of the city’.  

‘It’s not good enough for scientists to work in seclusion, the real impact comes from collaborating with other disciplines, that’s when cool things happen,’ he says. Cool things such as the awesome, roaring tiger (see above), created by Hong Kong artist Kristopher Ho, which has been hung on Shaftesbury Avenue and must have caused some serious arm ache.

Kristopher Ho turns London's air pollution into the image above
John Sanders

Since launching in 2016, Graviky Labs claims to have cleaned up a whopping 1.6 trillion litres of air, (that’s 770 litres of Air-Ink harvested – the same as driving a diesel vehicle continuously for 2.3 years) but the aim is to roll the device out on a larger scale through a city-wide pilot. They say: ‘If all 22,000 of London’s black cabs were fitted with a device, this could mean 30 trillion litres of cleaner air for Londoners annually.’

With the UK consistently botching attempts to meet air-quality targets, this could be just the kind of low-cost, high-impact solution London needs. 

So how does it work? The ink is created by strapping a specially made cylindrical device – to an exhaust pipe (for up to ten days a time), this traps the pollutants which are then processed and recycled into felt-tip marker pens and silkscreen ink.

Last week we got to see the process in action. Check out the photos below.

Clean Air Gallery. Windrush Square, Brixton. 7am-8.30pm. Mon Mar 27–Wed Mar 29. 

Live Air-Ink™ painting. McQueen, 55-61 Tabernacle St, EC2A 4AA and Burger & Lobster, 10 Wardour Street, W1D 6QF. 6pm-9pm. Mon Mar 27.

Kristopher Ho's large-scale Air-Ink™ Artwork. Shaftesbury Avenue. Mon Mar 27-Mon Apr 10.

Air-Ink inventor Anirudh Sharma with a Graviky Labs colleague
John Sanders
Anirudh Sharma adds linseed oil to the processed pollutants to create the very first trial ink
John Sanders photography
Mr Doodle in action
John Sanders
Add your own drawing to Mr Doodle's at Brixton's pop-up Clean Air Gallery
John Sanders
Kristopher Ho getting arm ache from Air Ink. See the final piece on Shaftesbury Avenue
John Sanders
Inventor Anirudh Sharma with the pollution-trapping device at Brixton's pop-up Clean Air Gallery
Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Exhibiting artists include Mr Doodle, Roderick Mills, Jonny Hannah, Josh Parkin and Good Wives and Warriors
Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Graviky Labs hopes to launch new art supplies made from air pollution in the future

Find out more at

Want to avoid the smog? This app shows you the least-polluted routes through London.

And have you heard that tube passengers are exposed to ‘eight times more pollution than motorists’?

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