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Wet magic at The Leo

by on July 18, 2012

Jul 17th 2012

In The Leonardo’s newest exhibit, “Water: Nature’s Driving Force,” Australian photographer Paul Blackmore documents the universal role of water in ecology, landscape, economics, recreation and religion and spirituality.

With 80 percent of the nation suffering a drought, the Leo’s timing couldn’t be better.

As desert dwellers, Utahns will feel a natural affinity for Blackmore’s subject and the people he presents, ranging from religious pilgrims in India to public bathers in Japan. To bring the exhibit home, Blackmore took a whirlwind trip through Utah to add a series of shots of local water sites, including Glen Canyon Dam and a mineral-encrusted bathtub at a remote hot spring in Central Utah. (The photo above is of swimmers at Utah’s major water feature, the Great Salt Lake.)

Explains Blackmore, “I wanted people to look at the local pictures and say, ‘This is my life!’ and understand their connection with water is the same as people everywhere.”

A child, dressed as a deity, walks through the pilgrims on the bank of the Ganges.

In the Leo’s mission of presenting art, science and technology as a seamless whole, the exhibit includes instructional installations that give museum visitors an idea of the challenge of providing clean water to meet the world’s ever-growing need.

In a nook at the photo exhibit, Alexander Johnstone, The Leo’s exhibits and programs manager, has filled 293 gallon bottles with water to illustrate how much water the average Utah resident uses daily to drink, cook, wash their cars, sprinkle their lawns and chase their whiskey.

If that sounds like a lot, it is. Utah is the second driest state (right now, three-quarters of Utah is suffering extreme or severe drought), but has one of the highest water usages in the country. A person in a developing nation ekes by on five to eight gallons a day.

“We didn’t want to depress people,” says Johnston, “but we wanted them to be aware.”

The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South,  Salt Lake City, 801-531-9800

  1. Nice photos I have a appreciation for great photography like the ones I see here. Want to check out my new blog

  2. Would love to be able to see this…. unfortunately, not near Utah anytime soon….
    thanks for sharing.

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