Artist Basia Irland carves giant blocks of frozen river water into the shape of books and then fills the sculptures with thousands of seeds that help to repopulate riverbanks with plantlife as they melt. The "ice books" are part of a project called Ice Receding/Books Reseeding that aims to raise awareness about climate change and the speed at which glaciers are melting, along with the importance of local rivers and biodiversity. Irland has already released her books into rivers around the country, each of which takes on a unique personality thanks to the local wildlife.
Apart from raising awareness, which is an important goal all on its own, a thriving riverbank ecosystem has countless benefits both environmentally, and aesthetically. Plants can help to sequester carbon, mitigate floods and drought, pollinate other plants, disperse seeds, hold the banks in place, regenerate soil, act as filters for pollutants and debris, and provide shelter for riverside organisms, which happens to include humans. Irland workes with stream ecologists, biologists, and botanists for each book to make sure she is using the best seeds for that specific region.
As stated on her website, the receding/reseeding project “emphasizes the necessity of communal effort and scientific knowledge to deal with the complex issues of climate disruption and watershed restoration.” So far, the artist has released ice books into rivers around the United States, as well as countries such as Mexico, England, Spain, and Iran. The people that want to help changes every time, but in the past there have been musicians, professors, forest rangers, farmers, and interested citizens on hand to help with the launch of an ice book.
You can find out more about the ice books right here, and they are also featured in a new book called Art & Ecology Now that brings together 95 artists who are confronting climate change through their thought-provoking works. As with most environmental efforts, the changes that need to be made aren’t huge, they just need to happen very quickly, and on a very large scale to be effective.
Images by Basia Irland