Zara Carpenter is a photograph who I have followed for a few years now. Carpenter is a multi disciplinary artist using print making, analog photography, sculpture and performance.
Her work explores experiences of past trauma and its effects on the body, more recently she has been producing prints using dried/dead flowers.
Dead Flowers - "Lumen and cyanotype prints made whilst in lock down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Made from flowers I have been given, flowers from my garden or discarded flowers and weeds found on daily exercise walks. I make the prints when the flower is at that moment of almost falling apart, when other people would throw them away. A remembrance that life is fleeting, life is precious and to be lived."
The work I produced in between modules wasn't necessarily directly inspired but anyone in particular, however as I was producing my preservation series using dried and dead flowers during lock down, Carpenter was doing a similar project. Carpenter created a series called 'Dead Flowers' using sun print techniques to record the flowers. In comparison, I chose to use a similar to to Anna Atkins who simply uses one or two plants on the light sensitive paper, where as Carpenter uses a busier composition. For Carpenters cyanotypes it looks as though she used a type of textured paper which makes the image really interesting. I have always used watercolour paper for my cyanotypes to give a bit more texture to the image, however the detail in Carpenters images really looks like roots, or veins within the plants making the image as a whole more interesting. This is something I'd like to experiment with moving forward, and particularly experiment with using various darkroom papers with sun/lumen prints to see what other colours could be produced.
Zara Carpenter 'Dead Flowers' Series, 2020
Anna Atkins a botanist and often hailed as the first female photographer, was interested in recording natural forms, particularly algae. Atkins was interested in the science of photography and used light sensitive chemicals which could be painted onto surfaces to create a negative image, mainly using the cyanotype process. This creates a blue image where the area covered remains white. Before this however Atkins was known for her illustrations of various plants and algae.
I have experimented with cyanotypes many times before, usually using a negative, printed onto acetate to produce a photograph. However due to the circumstances of the pandemic, I began to think about other ways of recording images easily in my own home. In between the modules I produced a series of cyanotypes similar to Anna Atkins using dried or pressed flowers and various weeds from my garden.
Atkins produced high quality botanical prints to keep a record of various plants and algae, and also to distinguish one species from another. Atkins prints are extremely detailed and often described a contemporary for the age of the images.
“She used very good quality paper, which is why the images are in such excellent condition to this day, and she became adept at judging the time the paper needed in sunlight, so the images are as clear as possible. Given that we are 170 years on, they are remarkably fresh, and artists today still use this process to create their work.” (Rooseboom).
Fig.1 Anna Atkins, Dictyota Dichotoma, in the Young State and in Fruit, c.1843, cyanotype, 26 x 20 cm. Courtesy: The British Library Board, London
Blooming marvellous: the world's first female photographer – and her botanical beauties - Morhead 2017
Although this mind map isn't beautifully presented it allowed me to get out all of my ideas onto paper and also introduce new areas of exploration and study. It could have continued to branch out further, if there were room on the page, but it is just the beginning of my concepts and ideas linked to our connection with nature.
Marina Abramovic is a performance artist who I was introduced to originally at university whilst studying Fine Art, however I haven't looked into her more recent work for a w while other than her piece 'The Artist is Present' where she sat in front of various people in a gallery every day for three months. This piece captured my attention because of the experience she was creating, asking the audience to join her, connect with her and be in the here and now.
Abramovic seems to have always created performance pieces which tap into our consciousness and clear our minds of the busy world around us. Her work is often described, even by herself as spiritual. She has explored various cultures and looked into their spiritually, taking their concepts and ideas and applying them to her performance pieces. The idea of really connecting with nature and ourselves is what I am intending to explore during my current project. Whilst researching these ideas I came across Abramovic and short trailer of her 'methods'. During the video Abramovic is out in nature, connecting with the present moment, and feeling a sense of calm. Due to permissions I have been unable to add the trailer but it can be seen at https://vimeo.com/71823059.
The Image below is a still from the short clip showing Abramovic pulling down the bloom tree on to her face, closing her eyes and really showing her connection.
Fig.1 Artist Marina Abramovic performs during the 'Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present' exhibition opening night party at The Museum of Modern Art. (9 March, 2010, New York City).
Researching further into these methods, it became clear that Abramovic has similarities in her work to the thematic enquiries I want to pursue within my current project.
Abramovic created her methods which are a series of exercises, some out in nature or connecting with the earth in some way, ask the participants to become aware of their physical and mental experience in the present moment.
As seen in the image below, Lady Gaga tried the methods produced by Abramovic. This was to connect to nature, open up her creativity but also her with her drug addiction at the time.
Fig.2 Still taken from Abramovic Methods Trailer
The video of Lady Gaga undertaking these practices is unable to be attached but can be seen here https://vimeo.com/channels/147727/71919803.
Interestingly this year it has surfaced that "many people" seem to think Abramovic is part of a 'cult' of Satanism. This opens up the questions of why is it seen that anyone who is trying to connect with themselves, or with nature is seen to be 'wicked' like the 'witches' throughout history.
Fig.3 Still taken from The Abramovic Method - practiced by Lady Gaga
Of course there are areas which are questionable and could be seen as 'satanism' within the work produced by Abramovic such as 'Spirit Cooking' where she uses pig blood to write messages on walls. But more recently why are these exercises seen as odd or a cult when in reality, we used to connect to nature more openly and it was seen as normal behaviour. As humans beings we surround ourselves with a lot of what we don't actually need, and are often looking for time, space and connection. Abramovic's exercises, especially those in nature explore being in the moment, feelings those connections and separating ourselves from the busy lives we lead.
The current pandemic has forced people to reconnect with nature, see what happens to the world when we aren't in it, destroying it as much as before. Nature has begun to take over and we have been forced to self reflect and think about what is really important in this world. Abramovic's exercises are just another way of allowing people to do this, in a more structured and open way.
I'd be very interested in trying out some of Abramovic's exercises and creating photographs from these as self porraits, or using other people to practice the techniques and record them photographically. The project exploring our connect with nature, different cultures approach and the myths throughout history, is only really beginning and is certainly an area I will be continuing to explore during the FMP.
The Abramovic method
BLINDFOLD: Leave home and go to the forest, where you are blindfolded, then try to find your way back home. Like a blind person, an artist needs to learn to see with his or her whole body.
LONG WALK IN LANDSCAPE: Start walking from a given point, proceeding in a straight line through the landscape for four hours. Rest, then return along the same route.
WALKING BACKWARD: Walk backwards for four hours, while holding a mirror in your hand. Observe reality as a reflection.
FEELING ENERGY: With your eyes closed, extend your hands in front of you toward another participant. Never touching the other person, move you hands around different areas of their body for one hour, feeling their energy.
SLOW-MOTION EXERCISE: For the entire day, do everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Peeing in slow motion is very difficult, but try.
The visuals produced through Abramovic alone are powerful enough to show the idea of reconnecting with nature and ourselves, but watching the performances really enhance this idea. The still images taken from the performances have a very surreal quality to them which is another area I've explored in the past, looking at automatism, and surrealist such as Magritte, Dali and Breton. Within my own photography I would describe it as capturing the participants in a still, whilst they perform. The shoots I aim intending to create I want the woman to really be themselves in nature, trust their instincts and really connect with the earth. I have decided to film parts of the shoot to create a video which will hopefully enhance the concepts further similar to Abramovic.
Fig.4 Marina Abramovic in Brazil: The Space In Between
Fig.2 https://vimeo.com/71823059 (Accessed June 2020)
Mariam Sitchinava is a photographer who often explores women and nature. I have researched her work before but more recently bought a print of hers which opened up a conversation between us both.
Sitchinava discussed how she never used artificial light in her photographs to keep them as natural as possible but ultimately its all about the mood and feeling.
Sitchinava expressed how she doesn't overly like to talk about her work as she finds it very difficult, but is interested in why others are drawn to it and want to buy it. She is interested in the feelings her images provoke for the viewers and what they see.
I have always been drawn to Sitchinava's work due to the lighting, composition and overall aesthetic of her images. The print I purchased was from her 'Nymph' series. They have such an ethereal feel to them and for me show a woman's connection with nature, linking back to 'Mother Earth'.
Fig. 1 Mariam Sitchinava 'Nymphs' 2019
Fig.2 Mariam Sitchinava 'Unslope Fog in May' Series, 2020
Sitchinava has recently been sharing very short clips on her instagram account called 'daily life in motion'. Many of these clips are from her photo shoots she has been creating during lock down. The clips are real time shots of plants, ladies hair, or trees swaying in the wind. These clips are similar to what I am aiming to produce with my video I will be creating this module. Although I am wanting to slow down the time so the moment really lasts and transports the viewer into their consciousness.
Another series of Sitchinava's which is beautiful is her shots taken in May of a women in a woods amongst the fog. These images really speak to me both emotionally and aesthetically and are very similar to the images I am aiming to achieve during this module. I really enjoy the contrast of this series using the landscape photographs alongside the images of the woman.
Fig.3 Mariam Sitchinava 'Unslope Fog in May' Series, 2020
Fig.4 Mariam Sitchinava 'Unslope Fog in May' Series, 2020
Piero Gilardi is a contemporary artist known for his use of arte povera and creates work relating to anti-austerity and environmental campaigns in Italy.
I was drawn to Gilardi's work due to the feeling of a surreal and alternative world. Although the issues Gilardi is exploring are very real, he work he produces has a playful and surreal feel to it. Particular his 'Nature carpets'. The 3D carpets arranged in an exhibition space look flat when looked at straight on, slightly resembling a photograph. Gilardi uses carved and painted foam to create his installations and this why he is such an influential figure in the arte povera movement.
Fig.1 Piero Gilardi 'Collaborative effects' Installation view, 2013
Fig.2 Piero Gilardi “Nature-carpets” in Gilardi’s 1967 exhibition at Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris.
Exploring Gilardi's work has made me question the materials I use within photography. Although I am exploring our connection with nature and use nature within or to create my images. Am I actually being kind to the environment? Should I be being more careful when using film photography because of the harsh chemicals used to develop it. Also are there ways in which I can print my images inspired by the arte povera movement.
More and more as I look at performance art and installations, I feel my photographic practice becoming more influenced by the world around us. The artwork which is taken from the outside into the gallery space especially linked to nature is really making me question how art and photography is seen. If the reasons why I am producing my work is to immserse the viewer and create this connection with the images and therefore nature, shouldn't the images be incorporated into nature themselves?
Arte Povera - "Arte povera was a radical Italian art movement from the late 1960s to 1970s whose artists explored a range of unconventional processes and non traditional ‘everyday’ materials."
Tate.org Accessed July 2020
”My photographs can be seen as different places for emotions. I want to narrate feelings like in novels. I photograph strangers, they invoke my desire, and I ask them to come with me. I conceal my dreams and desires in images. Water paints with me, it merges the people and the landscapes together. Feelings can be revealed, but remain hidden. You can recognise these photographed places in your imagination. Mysteries will become your secrets, and I want to take you into your dreams. Here, in the images, my protagonists sing with tunes of joy and yearning. I borrow poet Tua Forsström: I said it was a dream, because I wanted to stay.”
Fig.1 Susanna Majuri, 'Depth', 2010
Fig.2 Susanna Majuri 'Vesiputous (Waterfall)', 2009
Susanna Majuri creates her photographs by using 6ft images printed onto fabric placed at the bottom of a swimming pool and invites strangers to be photographed whilst immersed under water. The back drops are often recognisable as Nordic but that isn't the aim of the images to create a relationship between the place and the image, but rather the places are just geography for Majuri.
Majuri's images have a fairy tale quality to them and are often inspired by stories and lyrics/songs.
Majuri's photographs, similar to my own aim to create a narrative without having a direct relation to the model within the image. The model is there rather to emphasis the narrative rather than be about that particular person.
Although my images are exploring each individual women, the project isn't solely focused on them but rather showing the various connections we experience as an individual, but also share, within nature.
Susanna Majuri's images have a quality to them which although makes them feel ethereal doesn't cross the line o being too obvious. The use of immersing the images and models in water allows the images to have a coherent theme, colour and style. I have aimed to do something similar by using the same analogue films for each of my shots rather than being experimental with each one as I have in the past.
Fig.3 Susanna Majuri, 'Triptych', 2015
Majuri's images also have a film still quality to them which adds to the narrative, similar to my images I am trying to create a story and take photographs which compass the movement and story as the photo shoot happens resulting also in a film still quality. By placing images next to one and other this also creates a stronger narrative.
These photographs created by Majuri are as though she is creating self portraits, without actually being present in the image. The photographs reflect Majuri's emotions, feelings of nostalgia and being lost in the world. In comparison I would also say my photographs are becoming more like self portraits rather than being about the model. Although they have had input on the locations and time of the shoots, in reality when it has come down to finalising the images I am looking for the photographs which express how I feel in that particular place within nature. Actual self portraits are something I have considered in the past and moving into FMP is definitely something I will experiment with.
Looking at Majuri's photographs has inspired me to think about the ways in which I can experiment with my images by adding layers, either under water, or digitally. In the next couple of weeks I will be completing a shoot based down by the sea and these photographs have certainly given me some ideas of how I could push the photographs further.
After a 1-1 with Laura she suggested watching a film called 'The Antichrist' to bring a bit of darkness into my work but also think about the other types of impact or connections we can have with nature.
For example I believe the moon to have a big impact on our being, effecting our moods and shifting us into new periods of our lives, sometimes positive, often negative forcing us to face and confront our emotions. The Antichrist touches upon these ideas and was actually written and directed by Lars Von Trier who was suffering with depression and anxiety at the time.
The Antichrist is a film about a women who loses her child and as a type of therapy goes out into the woods with her husband to try and confront her fears and anxieties. However when arriving at the woods lots of strange things begin to happen and the women becomes as though she is taken over by the power of nature. Within the film she quotes 'Nature is Satan's Church'. The film has connotations with religious beliefs by calling the woods 'Eden' as well as other visuals with are representative of stories and myths.
The stills are what I find most intriguing and are the kind of dark, intimate visuals I'd like to create. The next two shoots I have planned, one by the sea at night and the other in an open marsh land with dead trees, will both have this more sensual and darker feel. Looking at The Antichrist along with some of the statements throughout the film have really pushed me to think about how powerful nature can really be, and the negative effects it can have on us. Although the film wasn't overly brilliant, some of the work within it I found resonated with my ideas and the visuals especially connected with me. I find horrors and thrillers difficult to watch, I think partly because I have such an active brain but also because it triggers a darker side within me which I try to keep safe. I have experienced depression myself so I could relate to the film in parts and felt passionate about some of the themes. The film itself although not amazing, is brave, it is though Von Trier expressed all of his thoughts, fears and anxieties into this film creating his own therapy. This is also present in the film with 'The Three Beggars', the fox, the crow and the deer. Each of these are there to represent pain, despair and grief and arrive throughout the film at these points.
The stills I have included, which also some resemble paintings, have become like a mood board, gathering the visuals with stand out the most and would work well in terms of composition as a single photograph. I am particularly interested in the way they shot as though they are captured without the participant knowing that the lens is there capturing them within the moment. This is what film does so well and is partly why I have approached my shooting in a similar way, some photographs of details and others further away. Cindy Sherman for example created an entire series of photographs called 'Untitled Film Stills' where she became different characters and photographed herself as though it was part of a film. I want my images to feel as though you are looking into a world where the viewer can escape into and become part of, similar to when you watch a film, you want to become completely engaged in that world, even if just for a moment.
The Language of Flowers
The language of flowers was a poetry I purchased last module when I went to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Since then I have read almost all of the poems within it. The book has a wide variety of poems from all over the world based specifically on flowers, allowing them to represent emotions, mortality, beauty and often has associations with myth, religious symbolism and folk lore.
Writing my poems for this modules I have thought about ways to represent the women in the images and their femininity but also their strength. Flowers are a good way to represent various emotions and can be often used as metaphors. Writing my poems for each of the shoots in relation to the girls using this book has enabled me to gather words, or rather flowers to use as ways of expression.
Born by the sea.
Used to is no-hope moan.
Forty or thereabouts.
Lived on her own.
Heaved a small sigh.
With a handful of stone
to get started,
she saved up the rain.
She came with her cushion
to the cliffs. She sat
strained in the wind
ina pink old-fashioned hat.
but the plunge of the beach.
All except nodding,
But she worked she worked
to the factory rhythm
of the sea's boredom.
Its bout of atheism.
And by the weekend
set up a stall
of paper flowers.
And sold them all.
So she made substance out of
lack of substance.
Hard of hearing,
she thrived on silence.
Alice Oswald (1966-)
So has a Daisy vanished
So has a Daisy vanished
From the fields today —
So tiptoed many a slipper
To Paradise away —
Oozed so in crimson bubbles
Day's departing tide —
Blooming — tripping — flowing
Are ye then with God?
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
My Pretty Rose Tree
A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said, 'I've a pretty rose tree,'
And I passed the sweet flower o'er.
Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.
William Blake (1757-1827)
Holloway, J., 2017. The Language Of Flowers. United States: Penguin Books.
John Berger and Rene Magritte
One particular area I have struggled with during the MA is trying to explain how I want others to see my work, in the way they see it depending on their own experiences and emotions. I try to select objects, places which resonate with the viewer of trigger an emotion or memory from childhood or later. John Berger's book 'Ways of Seeing' holds essays which have helped me to find new ways to explain my process and thinking more about how the audience view my work, and what they take away from it. During the first chapter, and on the front of the book is a painting by Magritte called 'The Key of Dreams'. Instantly I was drawn to it because of always having a real interest in the Surrealists and their ideas linking to the imagination, dreams and our subconscious.
Fig.1 Rene Magritte 'The Key of Dreams' 1935
"The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe" (Berger 1972)
This quote from the beginning of the book sums up a huge part of my project. Not everyone feels the same way about nature, some might find calm by the sea, others might find turbulent. The forest may feel safe and free for some, for others it may feel dangerous and full of fears. It is the same in how we see things, but also how our beliefs, morals and upbringing have an impact on how we see, and what we feel. I believe in trusting our subconscious, feelings a higher power, I believe in surreal worlds and auras. Others may not. This is how my work and images will relate different to various people. Many will connect in some way, whether the way they see it is however may not be how it was intended, but maybe the way I intend it to be seen is however it makes them feel?
Fig.2 Rene Magritte 'The Great War' 1964
I feel this way when I look at the Surrealists work, and particularly Dali and Magritte. All of the work we know is based on imagination, dreams, alternative realities, our subconscious and sometimes our deepest darkest secrets. But each image can be interpreted differently, I may see the purple flowers in this image by Magritte 'The Great War' and think about what purple can represent, power, mystery and magic. Someone else may look at the purple flowers and think about feminine qualities, or the fact they are covering the face of woman hiding her identity so do they represent who she is?
The way we see photographs, interpret films or poems is all dependent on our own thoughts, experiences and how we view the world.
Another reason I have always been influenced by Magritte's work is the use of nature, but also the window into these alternative worlds which are actually completely relatable. The small elements we recognise or relate to are important to create an instant connection with the viewer, but the rest is created by them. The titles of the images also have some significance, if the painting 'The Great War' wasn't titled with the word War within it, we wouldn't try to make connections between the two. Titles can drastically change our thoughts and views of an image.
Fig.3 Rene Magritte 'Spectacle de la nature' 1940
Fig.4 Rene Magritte 'La Vie Heureuse' 1944
Responses to questions in relation to nature from Females included in my work...
What initially draws you to nature?
Katie - The sounds, just birds singing or the sounds of nature, even complete silence, I find it so peaceful. I love exploring and taking time out to enjoy the peace of being in nature. I love how fresh and clean the air feels and how at home I feel.
Karen - The wash of relief and freedom. Escaping from stress of day to day.
Keely - Is the inherent connection I feel with it and how it makes me feel when I'm out and amongst nature. the serenity, kind of like a sigh after a stressful time and you go out into nature and its that sigh, welcome home.
That feeling of home.
Kayleigh - The freedom it has and the way it calls to the soul, and it feels like a sort of coming home.
Why do you think you’re drawn to nature?
Katie - I've always loved being outside, I'm very happy and content in nature. I'm drawn to it because it makes me feel at home.It's where I have time on my own. To gather my thoughts. To meditate. To be in stillness.
Karen - It allows me to stop thinking and just be.
Keely - I'm drawn to nature because of how it makes me feel. How I can go out on a walk and get lost in the garden or forest and forget about my day, it helps me relax and draws me back to myself and helps me reconnect with myself. It quiets, its not got the distractions of everyday life. Its such an inherent within me, a type of calling. It's so embeded within me, within my DNA.
Kayleigh - Nature is healing, our beautiful mother earth runs through us and when we are in nature it helps us to connect and align our mind, body and soul. I love to walk bare foot to connect with the earth to ground myself, planting flowers and even my own food and herbs. The earth contains so many healing moralities through the wonderful plants she grows that can help our immune system, heal illnesses, etc.
How do you feel when amongst nature?
Katie - Completely happy and free. It's mos definitely my go to place no matter how I'm feeling. It depends on my mood. If I'm feeling like I need to recharge and be still I got to the woods. A park if I'm wanting to study. Being by the water if I want to relax and read.
Karen - Lighter. Free. Airy. Calm.
Keely - I feel at home, I feel reconnected, I feel at peace, I feel a sense of oneness with myself and the earth.
Kayleigh - It's a place which helps to simplify problems, clears the mind and helps to restore peace within the body. So I feel calm, restored and I leave feeling renewed along with clarity. Being in nature really helps o make my heart feel full and my body healthy.
Why do you think you feel this way?
Katie - Nature feeds my soul. It works wonders on clearing my mind and just bringing me back to a place of calm.
Karen - The natural elements - wind and breeze. The natural sounds - trees rustling and animals. It's a calm palette, greens and blues and browns. But then also the contrasts of nature - of gardens with beautiful flowers, the colours and smells.
Keely - I personally feel this way because I have such a strong affiliation with nature and practice being in nature. I think a lot of people feel similar to me, but unfortunately we have lost some of that connection with nature the more we delve into technology and the busier our lives get, when we do get out amongst it, it;'s such an obvious enjoyment and we lose how important it is. We feel so amazing in nature because we are part of it.
Kayleigh - We are so rushed or busy in the modern world and we have disconnecting from earthing, so being in nature helps me feel grounded.
What positive impacts does nature have you on?
Katie - Every positive impact it could. It lightens my mood, clears my mind. Provides space for creativity in my mind. Provides peace and fresh clean air. Seeing all the plants and animals being free, I just love it.
Karen - Gives me a stress free time away. Thinking time. Exercise. Pleasure of growing things too.
Keely - De-stresses. Cleanses. Revitalises. Rejuvenates. It brings me to stillness. It makes me remember whats important. I can get lost in it. I can lay on the grass soaking up the sun looking at the grass and how that is a whole other world, it takes you out of your head and brings you back into the present moment.
Kayleigh - So many positive benefits for the mind and body, it helps me to release tension and drop into my divine femininity which helps me to slow down and sooth my body and the nervous system.
Is there anything in your childhood which you feel impacts your thoughts and beliefs?
Katie - I very much spent all my free time outside in nature as a child so it will most definitely have had an impact. I'm very earthy and love mature nature in all forms.
Karen - Gardening with family. Grandad and dad both being so in love with gardening and growing things.
Keely - As a child I spent so much time outside making mud pies, I would spend hours playing by myself in my own little world, as happy as can be. It was one of my go to places. I was always kind of daydreaming about getting lost in nature. I used to watch a lot of Disney and Pocahontas was one of my favourite ones, I used to pretend I was her running around in nature and talking to all the animals.
Kayleigh - I used to love being outside when I was younger and then as I got into my teen years I felt that loss of connect. However, since getting back to nature I feel as though I have that connection to the earth, this is one reason why I try to use more sustainable products and why Veganism is so important to me so we can protect our beautiful earth.
Would you say you’ve always felt this way or is it something that you’ve learnt, or grown into?
Katie - Very much always felt this way. However I had most definitely got a bit lost with work and being busy and not spending enough time doing it. So having this time to get back to my roots has been such a blessing. I;ve done a lot of travelling and a huge part of that is seeing nature in all its beauty all over the world. So being able to explore it locally has been really lovely.
Karen - Definitely something I've grown into...
Keely - Something I've always felt, but definitely something I've explored as I've got older. As a child I was just involved in nature just naturally. From around teenage years I wasn't as drawn to it, I was interested in other things. I would still feel good out in nature but didn't acknowledge the need for me to be in nature. As I've got older I realised how calming and soothing it is for me, on my soul. Because moving into the city, into London I really understood how much I need it and how much it effects my mental health and day to day.
Kayleigh - I've always felt that energetic pull to nature and I did ignore it for a while but I felt far more connected and inner have an inner peace now I have this connection.
Do you think the stories you read as a child, or the films you watched, etc had an impact on your relationship with nature and the way the live your life?
Katie - Most definitely, I was always into watching things like the jungle book and I guess I was drawn to these kind of stories, anything to do with animals and nature!
Karen - The Secret Garden! And stories like Pollyanna, Mr Pink Whistle stories. Loved those stories surrounded in big overgrown gardens.
Keely - Yes. Absolutely. I used to watch the secret garden. My dad used to come up with stories called the springles wood and he'd come up with all these little characters and read to me and my sister. He would create this incredible world and real off these stories of the characters in springles wood. There was an Abergale bunny, Keely bunny, mummy and daddy bunny, and an owl who was a school teacher. An otter as a policeman, or maybe a fox, there was a fairy wood. Definitely my parents, their stories, their affinity with nature and how it has been important to them, has rubbed off on of me and my sister and cultivated and grown the relationship which was already built within me as a child.
Kayleigh - Definitely, especially because I did and still do love watching films and programs about magic and witches. This always shows that deep and divine connection to the earth, nature and the elements.
Interestingly each of the woman discussed how they felt during their teen years they lost their connection with nature. Whether this is because of the transition we go through as woman, or life getting in the way. When we are small we play in nature, using all of our senses. As we grow older it seems to be all about getting a job and good career, going off to university and thinking about our place in the world. It's as though when we get older we begin to realise actually those things aren't as important, and it brings us back to thinking about our childhood and how at home we felt within nature.
Bill Viola is a contemporary video, sound and installation artist. Viola's work focuses on the human condition and our experiences; birth, death and 'the unfolding of consciousness'. His work often explores ideas linked to spiritual traditions and other religious ideas. "Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge."
Within this piece 'Ascension' we see a man drop slowing into the water, watching the bubbles around him and float back up to the top in slow motion. This video piece creates a meditative state for the viewer, a world to get lost in whilst still making personal links depending on the viewers beliefs. The way in which the man drops into the water with his arms extended resembles that of Jesus on a cross.
The slow motion and memorising state Viola video's produce are the areas of his work I am interested in as well as his concepts and ideas exploring the human experience. During this module I have been aiming to create a video piece which will be installed in an exhibition alongside my photographs to support and enhance the narrative. The music within the piece will be played throughout the gallery adding to the viewers senses at the view the images before seeing the video.
Marijukka Vainio creates photographs of plants and flowers which often represent feelings of fragility and the shortness of life capturing the sensitivity and beauty of the flowers with an element of magic.
"Marjukka Vainio was a storyteller who reached far beyond her earlier predecessors, such as Karl Blossfeldt, whose photos were seemingly etched in stone, stoic in nature, lacking a lust for life. By contrast, Vainio approached her chosen subjects and their final placement in the picture with a minimal subtleness, much like Harry Callahan in his Weeds in Snow series from 1943."
Fig.1 Marjukka Vainio, 'Pivoine rouge violacée et blanche I-III', 2014
During my current practice my work has also been called magical and sensitive. Having used scanography as a method of recording as one of our coursework tasks, I decided to scan my natural forms in a similar way to Vainio. Using a black background to keep a darkness and mystery to the images and enhance the beauty of the natural forms.
Fig.1 Marjukka Vainio, 'Pivoine rouge violacée et blanche I-III', 2014 - ://www.sinkka.fi/press/vihrea-maa-kukkiva-kaupunki/attachment/marjukka-vainio-pivoinerougeviolaceeetblanche-i-iii-2014-photo-marjukka-vainio/
IC-98 is an artist duo who explore concepts linked with nature and culture, material and myth. The work is a mixture of installations and detailed illustrations. Hours, Years and Aeons is an installation piece exploring the 'green gold' of Finlands forests.
Not only do the themes link closely to my project, but the ideas around video and installation. I have considered ways in which I can create an environment which really immerses the viewer in the experience, or how I could display my work within nature itself, either recording it as a performance piece or creating an outdoor exhibition space.
This image of the tree for me symbolises the power of nature, the growth above and below the surface and the ever changing flow.
Fig.1 IC-98 'Hours, Years, Aeons', 2015
Fig.2 IC-98 'Hours, Years, Aeons' (installation view), 2015
"The scene is set by Alvar Aalto Pavilion of Finland, built in 1956. As a historical document, the building tells the tale of the nation and its growth. The welfare state and its arts scene owe their existence to the ‘green gold’ of Finland’s vast primeval forests. The wooden structures used here reflect the post-war housing boom, while the pavilion itself was a philanthropic project funded out of fortunes made in the timber industry. Today, the legacy of the forest industry consists of vigorously managed fields of trees, with wealth accumulating and liabilities dispersed across the globe. Not far from the very forests that yielded the funds for the Pavilion will soon lie a tomb for nuclear waste, the repository Onkalo, dug deep into the bedrock." (Olivero, 2015)
Fig 3, 4 & 5 - IC-98 'House of Khronos' executed 2016-17
The 'House of Khronos' is an environmental piece of art which sits in Ortenoja within the 'municipality of Pöytyä in Southwest Finland'. The house was bought and a fence was created around the building. The purpose of the piece is to allow nature to take over the manmade built environment and the observers watch as nature takes over and begins to decay the building. People are forbidden to enter the grounds and the house, it'll purely sit to allow the earth to engulf the building.
This environmental piece of work links to the work of my own through the themes explored, asking ourselves why we create a concrete world, when in reality we feel most at home when amongst nature.
Native American Culture
Native American culture is an area I have always been interested in and towards the end of this module have begun to read the book called 'The Wind is my Mother' which explore the life of 'Bear Heart' a Native American shaman. Since I was small I had a fascination with Pocahontas and dream catchers. The stories the Native American elders told to their children were there to teach them how to live their lives through the land. Bear Heart discusses his upbringing and the magic he experienced. How whatever they took from the earth, they would return in some way, particularly the respect they had for animals, they would bless and thank the animals and discuss how one day they would return to the earth themselves and feed the trees, animals and other parts of nature.
Fig.1 'The Wind is my Mother' audio book cover image.
Fig.2 George Catlin, 'Distant View of the Mandan Village', 1832
These themes and ways of living are an area I'd like to explore moving forward, however I feel my work, like many artists is influenced by the stories and experiences you have as a child.
Other areas of Research...
During this module there have been areas I have touched upon and thought about but haven't been able to fully delve into, for example, witches and woman in nature, forest bathing and Ley lines. I have begun to read the book called 'Listen to the trees' which explores the way trees communicate with one and other and how we should listen to them ourselves.
I have made a note of all the areas I have briefly explored or areas I'd like to explore moving forward into FMP.
Witches - woman in nature
Listen to the trees (book)
The Abramovic Method (Experience it and creating self portraits)
The Overstory (book)
Into the Woods; Trees in photography (book)
Per Bak Jensen