Matters of Life and Breath

This display marks the progress through Parliament of the historic Clean Air Bill, also called Ella’s Law.

The law establishes the human right to breathe clean air, and is named for Ella Roberta Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. Ella Roberta was a young girl from Lewisham who died prematurely in 2013. She was the first person in the world to have ‘air pollution’ given as a cause on her death certificate.

The display features a cornet that belonged to Ella Roberta. Despite developing a respiratory condition that was aggravated by air pollution, Ella Roberta chose to play an instrument which demands skilled breath control.

Also on display is an ornamented end-blown conch from Tibet. The roots of the cornet lie with the ancient conch, a symbol of the breath of life itself.

Both instruments belong to a family of wind instruments called ‘labrasones’ which are played using a lip-buzzing technique.

The sound of labrasones are popularly associated with power and war, but were also used for communication over long distances.

This display has been co-created with the Ella Roberta Foundation and Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah CBE.