Jacek Wankowski

The Drowned World, 2018

Single-layer fibreglass and resin, paint, rope, life-jackets
Dimensions variable

Jacek Wankowski
  • Environmental Award
Jacek Wankowski

Image: Keith Maxwell

The Drowned World is a commentary on global warming and the resulting changes in sea level and climate.

J.G. Ballard’s prescient 1962 novel of the same name is set in a 2145 in which global warming has melted the ice caps and jungles have overrun a submerged and now-tropical landscape. Nature has swallowed all but remnants of human civilisation. A team of scientists confront a surreal environment populated by ancient plants and giant reptiles. They are slowly physically and psychologically transformed by this newly-prehistoric environment. The central character, rather than being disturbed by the end of the old world, is enraptured by the chaotic reality that has replaced it.

This work imagines those scientists adrift in their boat, becoming marooned in the canopy of the neo-Jurassic rainforest by a super-hurricane, ‘armada storm’ or a climate-induced tsunami temporarily lowering the water level in the valley.  Abandoning the boat they descend to the rainforest floor; leaving their life-jackets they head uphill to an uncertain fate to escape the returning waters.

“Soon it would be too hot” (these are the opening words to Ballard’s novel).