Book Chapter

Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art, 1768-2017. Catalogue of selected loan artworks


The book weaves its way through British art including early experiments with air and studies of clouds, to representations of breath (blowing glass, balloons) and wind instruments to flying creatures (real and imaginary) and wartime skies, before considering the physical possibilities of flight which shifted our perceptions of the landscape, as aerial photography made the view of the earth from above available to wider audiences. Contemporary work introduces new environmental issues to the narrative, making reference to climate change and air-borne disease, as well as considering air as an integral component in the process of making art, to demonstrate how air is everywhere.The beautifully illustrated book includes a number of insightful essays which expand on the exhibition’s interweaving themes looking at the life of breath from a philosophical position; an exploration of our enduring fascination with the pursuit of ‘ballooning’ from the first intrepid flights in the eighteenth century from co-curator Christiana Payne, and a nebulous account of clouds throughout British art from Gemma Brace, attempting to visualise the invisible in words.

Attached files


Payne, Christiana

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of History, Philosophy and Culture


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-03-24

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is Part of Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art, 1768-2017 (ISBN: 9781911408130)


  • Owner: Joseph Ripp
  • Collection: Outputs
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live
  • Views (since Sept 2022): 218