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Art projection commemorates 10th anniversary of death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – the first person to have air pollution listed as cause of death
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Breathe For Ella artwork

Yesterday evening (15 Feb), air pollution campaigners stood with the family of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah outside the Rambert Building in London’s South Bank to launch a three-day night-time projection of a new iteration of Dryden Goodwin’s Breathe artwork, depicting Ella’s mother ‘fighting for breath’.

Ella tragically died in 2013 from a fatal asthma attack and was the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death on her death certificate.

Ella’s Law

The artwork projection, produced by art-science organisation Invisible Dust, commemorates the 10-year anniversary of Ella’s death and seeks to encourage support for ‘Ella’s Law’ (The Clean Air Bill) – new proposed legislation on air quality in the UK that is set to be debated in Parliament in February.

The law would establish clean air as a basic human right for all and require local authorities to bring air quality up to minimum WHO standards within five years.

Government figures currently estimate that well over 5% of all deaths in England are attributable to air pollution – around 30,000 people annually.
Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah CBE, has campaigned tirelessly over the past 10 years to raise awareness of the health impacts of air pollution and for stricter laws regulating air quality in the UK.

‘For the last 28 months of her life, Ella had hundreds of attacks. While she was in and out of hospital, Ella was always worried about other children who were suffering like her, and for that reason we fight on.

‘My kids and I hope Ella’s Law will be successfully passed by the House of Commons, as it will save lives and be a fitting way to honour her memory. My kids and I will continue to learn to live without Ella, but we take courage in the knowledge that her painful death will end up saving millions. RIP Ella Roberta on this 10th anniversary.’

Ella’s mother

Art on the South Bank

The animation will be projected on the side of the Rambert building, aptly positioned next to the traffic-choked Waterloo Bridge.

Displayed from dusk to dawn over three nights, the images form part of a collection by acclaimed artist Dryden Goodwin, who spent time with Rosamund and other local clean air campaigners, capturing them as they moved through laboured breathing.

The 1,300 drawings were first shown last year as a major climate emergency commission by Invisible Dust for We are Lewisham, London Borough of Culture.

‘We cannot condemn another generation of children to a lifetime of health issues because they are forced to breathe toxic air.  4,000 Londoners are dying prematurely each year because of air pollution. This is simply heart-breaking and something no family should have to endure.

‘The recommendations made by the coroner in Ella’s Inquest in 2020 weighed on my mind when I decided to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide later this year. The fact is, toxic air harms us all. It causes asthma and stunted lung growth in the young and dementia in the elderly. The time to act is now.

‘This striking artwork is a powerful way to help educate Londoners about the harmful effects of air pollution and a reminder of how urgently we must act to clean up London’s air.’

Mayor of London

The switch-on event was produced by Invisible Dust and supported by the Clean Air Fund and Mayor Of London.

The event was accompanied by speeches by campaigners and performances including spoken word poet Jayda David, a three-piece youth vocal group featuring a member of Flames Collective and RnB band Nameless, featuring Ella’s siblings, Robert and Sophia.

‘For me, drawing someone is an act of empathy, thinking yourself into another person’s life, their emotions and story as you draw them. As it’s clear we don’t all breathe the same air, the role of empathy will play a vital role if we are going to achieve the change needed locally and globally. Holding Ella at the forefront of our minds, I hope ‘Breathe’ can play a part in this call to action to pass Ella’s Law and enshrine our human right to breathe clean air.’


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