My work is based on the natural landscape, focusing on the edjelands and wildernesses of the United Kingdom. I aim to create a personal connection with the few untamed pockets of which I believe are under threat through lack of, knowledge and understanding. I use the natural objects I find in and around where I work. I am trying to capture the fleeting beauty of these wild wonderlands and homes of our ancestors, hoping to rekindle the human relationship with the wilderness. I aim to do this by immersing my practice into the landscapes working with it, from it and in it. Pushing through the boundary of my own civility. My pieces are adornments flowing from the landscape, to the wall and the body. They are not owned but experienced. I simply borrow materials from the earth then they return of their own accord. An object cannot be carried forever, but a memory and an experience can be, they are what make us who we are, not our objects.
My initial tests focused on the found object and the ephemeral nature of the object. Although feedback suggested that this was not coming across. I decided to develop how I set the object, looking at symbols to visually translate the ephemeral nature through the setting, I found that there are very few symbols for temporality however there are many for eternity. I found this quite ironic because there is no such thing, just an invention of the human mind. I liked the contrast between the two symbolisms eternal and temporary. Putting the two together says that the temporary is eternal. This led me to find the Shen which is an Egyptian hieroglyph meaning eternal the simple shape and the use of binding have made a good visual base for my objects. http://www.egyptian-witchcraft.com/amulet-of-the-shen/ the binding was key to this discovery because I needed cold connections to join the disparate materials. The circle in the symbol also references marriage and religion making the emphasis on eternal but also translating civilised thinking and beliefs. The Shen is also creation of one of the earliest and most famous of human civilisations. This strengthens the references to the civilised. This made me reconsider the overall meaning of the work. It is more about the wild and the civilised and the disconnection between the two, than just the temporary alone.
After refining my setting I then thought more about the found objects. Instead of just being temporary they now needed to symbolise the wild. I started by site specific work selecting a specific wilderness to portray. I decided to document my experiences and the atmosphere of the place, and my reasoning for selecting objects. I have conducted two trips so far, one to Bishops Park near my home and to kinder scout.
My work and context are developing together I find it easier this way, it lets me develop the work freely and unrestricted. My main ambition is the message that the work portrays, how I share the message depends on the form that it may develop into, and I will let context develop accordingly. However in relation to context I have decided that the work should be displayed and recorded instead of sold and worn. I believe that the message will be better understood in a gallery rather than a craft stall. Defining the type of gallery proved more difficult but I eventually came across places like the forest of dean Sculpture Park and the Yorkshire sculpture park, the ethics of these establishments fit my work perfectly they encourage the work to be specific to that environment they also encourage the visitors to interact with the wilderness, some places making you find the work yourself instead of following trails. In a setting like this the viewers of my work will physically experience the wilderness my work is portraying, the atmospheres and materials I was influenced by.
My main feedback has been that I need more visual representation of the wild and temporary. I have responded to this by looking into found and natural binding materials such as grasses, hair and pinesap glue which have their own temporal nature. Also I have been looking into making my work where I find the objects, making outside in the wilderness. It is however not appropriate to make the whole of my object out in the wilderness, due to techniques that I am using like soldering and piercing saw work, but this lends more reference to the bringing together of the wild and civilised. By taking a civilly made item into the wild. By this I mean the Shen my setting that I will make using civilised and human techniques and materials. And taking that out into the wild, where I will then finish by adding the wild materials. Using very basic techniques mostly binding. I can also do this in reverse. Making the wild part outside then bringing it back inside to finish.
This new way of working outside had an impact on my intended context for the work I started to look at land artists instead of other jewellers. Not only is their work temporary, it is most of the time displayed on the spot where it was made. This has opened up new directions for the context of my work. The work of most land artists lives only in photographs, they use limited edition prints to generate income amongst a host of other media that supports the initial work such as time lapse images, poetry, films, performances. these are also media that are accessible to a wider audience .
some expmple land artists:
Richard Shilling uses no connective materials, pinning his work together with thorns, he normally gets time to take a few photographs before the elements reclaim it, you can see his work at http://www.richardshilling.co.uk/
Sonja Hinrichsen created a series of snow drawings making trails in the snow then photographing them from above she involves the local comunities and share in the experience of making the work in her artist statement she says “I like to unfold my work into large immersive experiences, however I prefer that it live on in its documentation only, and – hopefully – in the memories of my audiences.” http://www.sonja-hinrichsen.com/
I have also found that the found materials themselves need to symbolise the wild more I started to look at the wilder men, who are part of a ritual practiced by many rural communities all over Europe. The wilder man himself comes in many different forms but in most he symbolises a being that is half man (civilised) half bear (wild). The perfect visual resource for my work. I was primarily looking at materials used in the costumes and found lots to work with, from bone and antler, fur and moss to grass and sticks. Most of which should be abundant in wildernesses on the British Isles that I may visit. In conclusion to this I need to be more selective in my material choices and in some cases I could source some by other means. I am looking into using civilised methods of obtaining materials that visualise wild. For example in the case of antlers I am unlikely to find them here, but I took advantage of the German markets in Manchester and bought some. Also in the case of bones my farther is a butcher and can source game in fur and feather which means I can experience plucking, skinning, tanning and butchering, I will also eat the meat and clean the bones. Using as much of the animal as I can. This use of a whole animal was the way of life for many humans before we became truly civilised. The use of a whole animal and the variety of different uses each part has become very apparent since visiting the Pit Rivers Museum. Using everything they had to hand to get buy. Nowadays we are wasteful. for example a rabbit, can be eaten, the fur can be tanned using the brain, the intestines can be made into a strong string. now the brain and intertine woulr be discarded.
My short term ambitions are primarily responding to the discoveries and incorporating the new materials. My initial focus over Christmas will be to move some of my making outside, if the weather allows. I also intend to make some plans to go camping in the spring to some remote places to work in. I plan to do this over Easter but may do some weekend trips as well. On top of that I need to learn the appropriate skills to treat, prepare and work with some of the new materials I intend to work with. My main concern is extra skills I need to be able to generate the extra material to go alongside the work, like the poetry, writing, film and time lapse photography. It may be that I will collaborate to obtain the extra material but I haven’t made a decision on that yet. i have made some connections with a fine art student and i am planning a photograppher collaboration call out on the schooll of art facebook page. I think that it is important for me to have the skills to document, write and film while I am making. The logistics of this and weather it is appropriate for me to do this will be become apparent out I have tested making outdoors.
Another concern is the generation of income I have intended material to generate it, but now I need to figure out where the extra material belongs, the market and audience. I will start by looking at how some of the land artists sell their accompanying material. in the form of publications and books.
My long term ambitions are to work with rural galleries and sculpture parks making site specific work in their surrounding park or nearby wildernesses. Displaying outside and in the gallery. Another big ambition I have is to have a published book about my work or be featured in a book, however I feel that my writing skills would hold me back from this achievement. I have recently undertaken some volunteering on the Art Mentor scheme at MMU, involving running and assisting workshops, I was surprised by how rewarding it was. I do find talking in front of even small groups daunting, but I already after the few sessions that I have done feel more comfortable, and I hope that future sessions could make me confident enough to, in the future run my own workshops with adults and children. Working either from a gallery or independently showing people what I do and letting them experience my making process. Hopefully helping them better understand my message. I would also like to eventually teach in an establishment sometime in the future, I think it would be rewarding to see and encourage a student development over two or three years. This also offers me the stability of being employed.