The Earth System and How It Works

The Earth System and How It Works was a pilot exhibition presenting the Earth System, its basic architecture and workings. The exhibition was held weekly, on weekday afternoons, over a five week period in the summer of 2021. Queen’s Square, in the city of Bath (south west England), was the setting for all 5 events.

Each of the exhibitions attracted between 25 and 50 visitors over three hours or so. Feedback was positive overall. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed walking around and reading about the [Earth System] and really like the idea of simply educating people in a fun, visual manner as people go about their day … a fun and insightful experience!’ wrote a visitor.

The main part of the exhibition was a selection of 16 mounted images taken from coffee table books, displayed on lightweight easels, together with accompanying commentary. The easels were arranged in a circle behind or around a plinth supporting a bespoke globe, leaf litter, and gravel, again with accompanying commentary. The sequence of images – satellite, aerial and ground photographs – illustrated the main processes moving energy and material between space, the atmosphere, land surface, sea surface, and solid Earth.

I had been thinking about exhibitions since working on initial proposals for a center in 2019, and had begun to acquire the books from charity shops with that in mind. I produced the exhibition during 2020, having read Earth System Science : a Very Short Introduction. The exhibition was designed in such a way that it could be transported by a single, festival trolley, bought for the purpose. Bath and North East Somerset Council proved somewhat discouraging and, in the event, I decided to just go ahead without applying for permission (a significant fee is levied ahead of consideration of an application). The project was self-funded.

Photographs of the exhibition can be viewed in the Gallery.

I have retained the exhibition materials – except the easels – which can potentially be reused.