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Artist Kelly Nunes Explores Relationship Between Water and Plastic in “Glacier Cave” Installation


“I’ve always found glacier caves to be magical and mysterious,” says Kelly Nunes, the multi-disciplinary artist behind Glacier Cave, one of the most recent installations at the Age of Union Earth Centre. 


Alexis Ramlall


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“I spent a lot of time hiking in the Andes, around these massive glaciers that are beautiful and mysterious. I’ve always had a fascination with glaciers,” said Nunes in an interview with Age of Union on his most recent piece featured at the Earth Centre.

Glacier Cave is an interactive installation that meditates on the questions surrounding our complex relationship to water — as a commodity and as a healer — and how plastic and ocean narratives are currently intertwined.

With this glowing installation, Nunes’ goal is for people “ to make a connection between the choices that we make as a society and the consequences that those choices have on nature.”

Created from recycled post-consumer plastic, Glacier Cave draws on the imagery of plastic refuse islands in the ocean, vis-a-vis our collective cognizance of the sacred value and mystic beauty of ancient ice. “I want the viewer to feel a connection between the thawing glacier cave and the materials used to produce it,” says Nunes.

“The irony is that these bottles that once carried water are now poisoning the water.”


But what are glaciers?

Glaciers are large, thick masses of ice that form on land when fallen snow gets compressed into ice over many centuries – in fact, most glaciers we see today were formed during the last ice age. 

Over the past decades, glaciers have been shrinking at an accelerated rate due to climate change — with factors such as carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions also causing coastal erosion and even elevated storm surge.

This rapid glacial melting has led to rising sea levels across the globe, threatening communities and wildlife in detrimental ways. Without substantial worldwide intervention, the effects of global warming will create irreparable damage, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out in its latest report.

For Nunes, collaborating with Age of Union was a no-brainer, as he shares similar ideals to the environmental alliance, “Environmental conservation, to me, means holding ourselves accountable and part of that means holding corporations and governments accountable, too, through protest.”

The Toronto-born, now Montreal-based artist has a background in film and musical composition and a passion for innovative technologies at the intersection of architecture and scenography to service transformative, human-centred environments, as shown in his most recent work at the Earth Centre. As much as he loves his artistic practice, he didn’t intend to get here, “I never really decided to become an artist — it just happened.”

Nunes’ art focuses on responsive environments, like in the Glacier Cave installation, which features lights and sounds that mimic the environment in the Arctic, where natural glaciers can be found. Nunes’ vision is to blend multiple media forms to create powerful experiences that push the boundaries of perception and storytelling.

To see the piece for yourself, join us at the next Earth Centre Open House on Jan. 21 from 1 to 6 p.m. Click here for more information about the event.


Photos by Clara Lacasse.


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Article written by
Alexis Ramlall

Alexis is a freelance writer and journalist. As a recent graduate from the University of Toronto’s Journalism program, what originally started as a career in writing jumpstarted an unexpected love for all things social. Now, she runs a content factory from her home in Toronto, Ontario.


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