The Extinction Collection

A brand new initiative for 2024 aiming to highlight climate change through art.

We have invited selected sculptors and artists to create a special collection of artworks highlighting climate change, including artworks featuring fossils and artefacts from Happisburgh, the home of Explorers Against Extinction.

Happisburgh is the site of the earliest known human occupation in the UK, dating back 900,000 years. It will be the first UK community lost to ocean rise.

The collection will feature 20 artworks. Artworks featuring fossils and artefacts from Happisburgh will represent extinct species, telling the story of historic climate change. Other pieces will shine a light on today’s endangered species,  threatened by anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.

Details of participating artists will be announced over the coming months.

The collection will be exhibited in 2024 to raise publicity for our campaigns and projects, as well as promoting awareness about current climate issues.

Participating Artists

Richard Deacon CBE

Richard Deacon’s voluptuous abstract forms have placed him at the forefront of British sculpture since the 1980s and, hugely influential, his works are visible in major public commissions around the world.

His work is abstract, but often alludes to anatomical functions. His works are often constructed from everyday materials and he calls himself a “fabricator” rather than a “sculptor”.

Deacon’s body of work includes small-scale works suitable for showing in art galleries, as well as much larger pieces shown in sculpture gardens and objects made for specific events, such as dance performances.

Deacon won the Turner Prize in 1987 (nominated for his touring show For Those Who Have Eyes) having previously been nominated in 1984.

For The Extinction Collection Richard has fabricated a sculpture from the fossilized teeth of three species – The Southern Mammoth, The Steppe Mammoth and the Long-tusked Elephant. All three teeth were found on Happisburgh beach, Norfolk, washed from the sediments as a result of modern day climate change. All three species were made extinct locally by historic climate change.

Emily Young FRBS

Emily Young is considered one of the most successful sculptors working in Britain and she has been often called Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor. Because of the powerful nature of her pieces, Young became known as a mediator between humanity and nature in its most primitive, basic forms.

The primary objective of her sculpture brings the relationship of humankind and the planet into closer conjunction. The natural beauty, history and energy of material stone, including its capacity to embody human consciousness, can endure into the future of a vast unknowable universe.

For The Extinction Collection Emily has carved one of her trademark faces emerging from fossil stone. Embedded in it like a jewel is a 600,000-year-old hand axe made by a species of human now extinct through historic climate change. The hand axe was found on Happisburgh beach as a result of modern-day climate change causing erosion through ocean level rise.

Peter Randall-Page RA

During the past 40 years Peter Randall-Page has gained an international reputation through his sculpture, drawings and prints. He has undertaken numerous large-scale commissions and exhibited widely. His work is held in public and private collections throughout the world including Japan, South Korea, Australia, USA, Turkey, Eire, Germany and the Netherlands.

A selection of his public sculptures can be found in many urban and rural locations throughout the UK including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge and at The Eden Project in Cornwall.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Tate Gallery and the British Museum amongst others.

His practice has always been informed and inspired by the study of natural phenomena and its subjective impact on our emotions. In recent years his work has become increasingly concerned with the underlying principles determining growth and the forms it produces.

For The Extinction Collection Peter has 3D printed the mirror image of a Steppe Mammoth bone. This has then been cast in bronze and gilded gold, to echo the original fossil, creating a sculpture with both items side by side.

Andy Goldsworthy OBE

Andy Goldsworthy OBE is an English sculptor, photographer, and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in natural and urban settings. The materials used in Goldsworthy’s art often include brightly coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. In contrast to other artists who work with the land, most of Goldsworthy’s works are small in scale and temporary in their installation. For these ephemeral works, Goldsworthy often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials.

His work has made him one of the most respected and admired land artists in the world, using his art to remind the audience of the beauty and fragility of nature.

For The Extinction Collection Andy has used ancient flints from Happisburgh – a handaxe and flake – to create a video work. He uses the flints out in the Scottish wilderness as tools to create colour and art from local ironstone.

Michael Pinsky

Michael Pinsky is a British artist whose international projects challenge the status quo on climate change, urban design and societal wellbeing. He explores issues which shape and influence the use of our public realm to create ambitious and provocative installations in galleries and public spaces. Taking the combined roles of artist, urban planner, activist, researcher and resident, he starts residencies and commissions by working with local people and resources, allowing the physical, social and political environment to define his working methodology.

His work has been shown at: TATE Britain; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chengdu; Saatchi Gallery; Victoria and Albert Museum and at La Villette, Paris.

His recent installation Pollution Pods is touring internationally and has been exhibited in Somerset House, London, COP 26, Glasgow; COP25, IFEMA, Madrid, Spain; UN Climate Change Summit, New York; Science Gallery Melbourne; Media City Plaza, Manchester; TED Annual Conference, Vancouver; Place des Nations, Geneva; Klimahaus, BremerHaven, Germany and STARMUS, Trondheim, Norway.

For The Extinction Collection Michael is creating a work from fragments of mammoth teeth from Happisburgh beach in the Marshall Islands, South Pacific. The Marshall Islands will be one of the first nations to cease to exist because of ocean rise. 

David Nash OBE RA

David Nash studied at Kingston College of Art from 1963 to 1967 and at Chelsea School of Art (Postgraduate) from 1969 to 1970. Nash’s first solo exhibitions were held in 1973 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, York and at Oriel, Bangor, Wales. These rapidly led to a series of solo exhibitions throughout the UK and his international reputation was established after his first solo shows overseas were held in 1980 at Elise Meyer Gallery, New York and at Galleria Cavallino, Venice, Italy. Since then, he has continued to hold solo shows on an annual basis throughout the world.

Nash’s work has also been included in numerous international key group exhibitions since 1970. These include The Condition of Sculpture, at the Hayward Gallery, London (1975), British Art Now: An American Perspective, at the Soloman R Guggenheim Museum, New York and tour (1980), British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century, Part II, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1981) and Aspects of British Art Today, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in (1982).

David is creating a work for The Extinction Collection from 800,000 – 1 million year old wood preserved in the early sediments found on Happisburgh beach.

Eleanor Lakelin

Eleanor Lakelin is a sculptor in wood. She works only with trees grown in Britain, felled due to decay. A deep knowledge and a passionate interest in the natural properties of wood result in forms that seem true to the spirit of the material and which encourage us to look at the complexities of nature with a new perspective. Her work is rooted in the rhythm of growth, the eroding power of the elements and the passing of time. Material is transformed into objects that invite touch and reflection, reminding us of our elemental and emotional bond with wood and our relationship to the earth.

Eleanor’s work is exhibited internationally and is part of prestigious private and public collections, including the V&A – Victoria & Albert Museum, London; MAD – Museum of Arts & Design, New York; the Museum of London, The National Museum, Norway; LOEWE Foundation, Madrid and the Mint Museum of Craft and Design.

Eleanor is incorporating pieces of ancient wood from Happisburgh is her signature works.

Julian Stair OBE

Julian Stair is one of the UK’s leading potters. He studied at Camberwell School of Art and the RCA. He has exhibited internationally since 1982 and has work in over 30 public collections including the V&A Museum, British Museum, American Museum of Art & Design, New York, Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, Japan, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Kolumba Museum, Cologne, Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Recent solo exhibitions include Art, Death and the Afterlife, (Sainsbury Centre, Norwich 2023).

He is a leading historian of English studio ceramics. He completed a PhD at the RCA in 2002 researching the critical origins of English studio pottery and has written extensively. Julian’s essays have been published by Routledge, Bloomsbury, the Courtauld Institute, Tate Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. He was awarded an OBE in 2022 for his services to ceramics.

Julian is experimenting with the sediments from Happisburgh beach with a view to producing ceramics celebrating the lives of the extinct creatures who lived and died there.

The Extinction Collection: Background

Explorers Against Explorers is based in the village of Happisburgh, Norfolk, UK. Happisburgh is the most (in)famous location in the UK for suffering coastal erosion due to sea-rise through climate change. Currently the cliffs are being eroded at a rate of over one metre per year. Its church and lighthouse are projected to have collapsed into the sea by 2100.

As the cliffs are eroded, sediments are exposed on the beach that date to the Pleistocene age, ranging in date from between 500,000 and 900,000 years ago.

In these sediments are the fossils and tools of now-extinct animals (including three species of mammoth, the woolly rhino, elephant, lion, bear and hyena) and early humans (Homo antecessor and Homo heidelbergensis), all made extinct locally by climate and sea level change.

In 2013 human footprints were discovered, preserved in the sediment, and dating to 850,000 years ago. This makes them the oldest-known human footprints outside Africa, and Happisburgh one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

These artworks, made from materials created by climate change and rediscovered hundreds of thousands of years later by the actions of present-day climate change, will be exhibited in 2023-24 to raise publicity for our campaigns and projects, as well as promoting awareness about current climate issues.