Dr Mathew Emmett
A University of Plymouth academic has been selected to represent Great Britain in a prestigious cultural exhibition running in conjunction with the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Polluted Pool, a work by Dr Mathew Emmett, was chosen to feature in the Apollo’s Decathlon exhibition at the Château de Montsoreau Museum of Contemporary Art in the Loire Valley.
Part of the wider Cultural Olympiad, the exhibition – which runs until 11 August – features artists from countries participating in the Paris Games.
Dr Emmett was chosen as the GB representative in the video art category, and chose to focus his work around the contrast between the pinnacle of human achievement and the devastating scale of environmental degradation.
It shows a derelict Olympic swimming pool that has been filled with items such as plastic waste, chemical residues, sewage, and oil spills.
A swimmer adorned with symbols of pollution is then depicted hovering above the polluted pool to illustrate the paralysis in addressing climate change.
The work aims to highlight increasing levels of water pollution, and to inspire a collective call to action for greater environmental stewardship.
Polluted Pool by Dr Mathew Emmett Mathew Emmett

The Olympic Games are celebrated globally as a pinnacle of human potential, epitomising excellence, unity and progress. But witnessing the increasing levels of pollution in our oceans, rivers, and lakes, I was moved to create an audiovisual piece that compels viewers to reflect on their role in this ongoing crisis. For me, using a derelict Olympic swimming pool as the frame for this project demonstrates the stark reality of pollution. It also emphasises that without a sustainable foundation, even our greatest achievements are overshadowed by the damage we inflict on our planet.

Mathew EmmettMathew Emmett
Associate Professor in Architecture

Polluted Pool is Dr Emmett’s latest work to bridge the boundaries of art and environmental activism, with previous projects having explored topics ranging from avian flu to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also forms part of a wider project titled Terminal Landscapes, which merges artistic expression with ecological research to confront viewers with the stark reality of polluted environments.
Dr Emmett, who leads the MArch Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) programme, added:
“As an architect, I have always been fascinated by derelict structures where human-dominated nature is reversed. That is what I try to show in my work, and being selected for this prestigious exhibition marks a significant personal and professional achievement. It also validates the urgency of tackling environmental challenges through innovative approaches, and underscores the pivotal role of creatives in catalysing societal change.”
As well as video art, the Apollo’s Decathlon exhibition features paintings, drawings, poetry, music, sculptures, performances, fiction, installations and photography. It will close on the final day of the Olympic Games, when a committee of art world professionals will announce three winners from each category.
Architecture studio
Architecture studio space in Roland Levinsky Building
Architecture, Design and Environment Programmes

Forward-thinking, creative, and innovative – a place to nurture your talent 

Our School of Art, Design and Architecture offers high-quality, student-centred degrees, postgraduate programmes and research opportunities focused on adaptability and relevance to today’s cultural industries.
Architecture Blueprint. Getty