5 Key Points – Contextualisation
1. John Piper: An Experience of Place. John Piper’s work “The Rocky Valley, North Wales” was the starting point to my subject work. Romantic Artist’s such as John Piper and Graham Sutherland saw an importance in Nature. They wanted to create an experience of a place and a connection with it. I started working with these ideas and under the influence of these artist’s progressed to exploring the relationship art and nature could have.
2. Anselm Kiefer Exhibition: Works incorporating Natural Materials with Paint. Viewing the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition in the Royal Academy really inspired my ideas. I hadn’t realised that he incorporated natural materials into the paints he uses and onto the surface of the canvas. Experimenting with ways of incorporating nature into art, I decided to explore mixing nature into paint myself which turned out to be unsuccessful as it wasn’t creating a deep enough connection but pushed me to develop my work and encouraged me to think about ways of integrating nature without art materials like man-made paint and aided my progression.
3.Stuart Cairns: Artist Tool Making The Drawing as experience field module introduced me to Stuart Cairns. He makes drawing tools out of found objects, sometimes natural materials other times not. I am highly influenced by his work and it encouraged me to explore making my own natural tools to paint and draw with which have turned out to be integrated into my final and most recent work. Exploring the marks that each tool makes and considering them as art objects themselves I have discovered a connection to nature by making marks with it.
4. Andy Goldsworthy: Realising the Potential in Nature. Andy Goldworthy gives me confidence in the fact that presenting art and nature together can emit a connection to a more natural environment. His work demonstrates the potential of nature and displays a connection with it. Even though he works out in the surrounding, his work is very inspiring to me and pushed me to use natural materials for Art Making.
5.Richard Long: Mud Paintings. Richard Long’s work relates to my work and ideas in a variety of ways. He experiences Nature, collaborated with it, brings it into the gallery space as well as producing land art, but the most influential area of his practice for me were his mud paintings. His work inspired me to explore making my own paint’s from nature and more deeply investigate the possibilities that nature has to offer to my art.
Art actually originated from nature which is highly relevant to my project. Cave paintings were the first medium based art dating back to around 18,000 years ago. People used natural materials to grind to make pigments to paint with. Cave painting paints usually consisted of pigments such as earth/soil, clay and charcoals mixed with a binder such as spit or animal fat. It is interesting that painting itself was developed out of nature and created using products from the natural world.
I am exploring a connection between art and nature within my work and attempting to incorporate the natural world and natural materials into my art making in a variety of ways. Grinding my own pigments would definitely make my work more deeply connected to nature because nature itself would be the components of my paints.
“As people become more Eco-friendly and environmentally aware, the idea of making living, breathing graffiti has become an exciting outlet for graffiti artists. Moss graffiti replaces spray paint and other such toxic chemicals and paints with a paintbrush and a moss “paint” that can grow on its own.”
It is important in the contextualisation of my project, that I look at artist’s that are creating a connection between Art and Nature in Today’s Society. Here I am looking at a method of art making rather than a particular artist. This is a prime example of people using natural materials to make art.
It has made me think about the fact that I have been combining my natural materials with Acrylic paint which is not a natural material and is very plasticy and therefore, I think it could possibly make me work less connected to nature and not make people connect with nature or realise it’s potential. Here these individuals have made their own moss paint and it grows, this is something I could experiment with but mostly this research has encouraged me to think about the fact that I could be making my own paints and my own pigments from nature, rather than using bought paints and mixing natural elements in with them because I believe this would make the connection stronger. Also, in terms of environmental issues, using only natural paints would be better for the environment.
Another way that artist’s have made a connection between art and nature is through physically using art itself to benefit the environment. Artworks can have a positive effect on nature and or better it in some way. Environmental issues are highly prominent and relevant in today’s society and it is interesting to see how art can contribute to benefiting nature.
Joseph Beuy’s 7,000 oaks piece simply incorporated the planting of trees and therefore contributed to benefiting the environment. “In regard to the extensive urbanization of the setting, the work was an extensive artistic and ecological intervention with the goal of enduringly altering the living space of the city. The project, though at first controversial, has become an important part of Kassel’s cityscape”. The piece also brought awareness of natural environments to people living in an urbanized world.
Mel Chin’s Revival Field has a positive effect on the environment by regenerating the soil that it occupies. Revival Field is set on an old landfill site and Mel Chin plants plants that will extract the metal from the soil and regenerate the environment. I hadn’t considered the impact of art benefitting the environment and therefore connecting to nature. I think it is very interesting that art can physically make a difference. The extent of my knowledge into how artist’s have previously connected art and nature will definitely benefit my project and also has inspired me to include themes like these in my dissertation.
David Cushway is an example of an artist connecting nature and art, bring parts of nature into the gallery space by creating casts of it. Cushway created a cast of part of the summit of Snowdon.
“I was commissioned to cast the summit of the mountain, an icon of Wales’ national identity. I went to the summit and cast a small section of it; from the cast I made a model in unfired clay. Housed in a glass vitrine, it creates its own microclimate, representing the climatic experiences of the mountain. The piece refers to the mountains origins, as it began as clay on the seabed, and through igneous and metamorphic activity over millions of years it became the mountain we see today” – David Cushway
This artist also references the fact that the art material he uses originated from nature something that I have been thinking about through my artistic practice. This artist’s work showcases an example of how you can create a connection between art and nature and is relevant to my work.
For the Contextualisation Formative Assessment: I was asked to highlight the relevant contextual references/artists and say how they have influenced my work etc. I thought it would be beneficial for my own understanding and for this presentation to go through my contextualisation and do so.
Starting Point: John Piper – Rocky Valley, North Wales, saw it at the National Museum of Wales Cardiff.
I started this project by identifiying elements of landscape abstraction and mark making in Piper’s work and researched artists that linked to this like: Paul Nash, Frank Auerbach, Anselm Kiefer and John Knapp Fisher. I also looked at artists that inspired John Piper such as Samuel Palmer, JMW Turner and Richard Wilson.
John Piper painted Landscapes he had a connection with, mainly west wales which encouraged me to focus on a landscape close to me – The Brecon Beacons.
However, After reading into John Piper and Romanticism more deeply, my work was no longer simply about Landscape and abstraction. The era of romanticism saw an imaginative approach to landscape painting. Piper adapted more traditional forms of Landscape painting and wanted to capture an experience of being in a particular surrounding, the personalities of the natural objects and a connection with place and nature. This I thought was really inspiring, rather than just painting a flat image, trying to capture a sense of the surrounding and a connection to place and so this is what I started exploring in my work. I looked into the work of Graham Sutherland an artist with similar intentions who wanted to capture an ‘intellectual and emotional’ essence of a place”. This research helped to direct my project rather than just experimenting with inspirations from the starting point piece alone.
Romantics saw the importance of nature and were distrustful of the human world, and tended to believe that a close connection with nature was mentally and morally healthy. Graham Sutherland went on nature walks and collected fragments from nature that he would bring back to the studio to work from. This was the first inspiration for me going out and collecting natural found objects, simply starting out by collecting twigs to draw with. This is where I became really immersed in my work and rather than connecting my landscape work to place and experience I started connecting it to nature and the natural elements within the landscape.
My Research started focussing on artist’s that incorporated nature into their artwork physically. I researched artists such as Paul Schick and Naoko Ito which inspired me to use twigs physically in my work rather than just as drawing tools. Katharina Grosse‘s work emphasised to me the possibilites of soil and how the texure is highlighted when painted. Anya Gallacio highlighted the need to think about ephemerality.
I have never been so inspired by an exhibition as I was after Seeing Anselm Kiefer‘s Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. It physically showed me the possibilites of adding unconventional material into the surface of the canvas and mixed into the paint as is probably the biggest influence throughout my project, an artist that I have constantly referred to. I was particularly drawn to a vitrine piece where the foreground was filled with sticks and thorn bushes, and researched this style of work further and it confirmed to me that my work would incorporated and be linked to natural objects that I would collect and use in my art.
I also went to see exhibitions with a connection to nature like Pipilotti Rist and Berlina De Bruckyere.
Terry Setch‘s Estuary Paintings also inspired my inclusion of natural objects in painting. His concepts include an approach to nature and he uses found objects within his work like Debris from the beach and natural matter. Christo and Jeanne Claude’s wrapping of trees and Hamish Fultons ideas made me think about how nature is precious and should be looked after and I made a concious decision not to pick things, only to collect from the ground.
Settled on including natural materials in my work, I also researched and experimented with different ways of connecting with nature and came across the work of Tim Knowles who thinks of “nature as artist”, he sets up the credentials for nature to make art and I did experiment with this, putting drawings out in the rain etc but it wasn’t a key influence on my work and wasn’t as interesting or enjoyable to me as using natural materials.
The work of Stuart Cairns and Bryan Nash Gill inspired me to think of Nature as a tool for art making, creating a connection to nature by painting with tools made from it. This is something that is now integrating into my work and I think combined with nature included into the paint and maybe producing my own natural paints could make for an interesting and successful final outcome.
Environmental art and Land art has become part of my research in terms of the concepts and ideas and the use of materials. Artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long made me think about the importance of a connection to nature in art and how it can expose people to nature and make them more aware of environmental issues and the benefits of being out in nature. It is such a shame that natural world is overlooked by many today and incorporating it into art might prevent it being overlooked so much. Also Richard Long’s versatility of ways of working with nature has been at the back of my mind throughout my experimentation. He has touched upon all the things I have worked with loosely, using nature in paint, collaborating with nature and displaying natural materials in a gallery/studio setting rather than just outdoors in the land.
Contextualisation is really important in pushing ideas forward and I would not have made the body of work I have and experimented as much without these influences backing it up.
Bryan Nash Gill is Best Known for his prints taken from tree trunks/logs, capturing all the detail of the pieces of wood including the inner rings and outer bark layers. These Prints really caught my eye as they are so simple but so successful. I was drawn to the different sizes of logs and tree cuts he uses to print from and how much detail he encapsulates into the result.
Thinking about the print making techniques I am employing in the artist’s book making project, using nature to make prints, this work is highly relevant. But also, here the log is being used as a tool. I am experimenting with creating tools using nature to draw and paint with and even though Bryan hasn’t made the tool here, it is still a natural material applying paint to the paper surface. His work gives me an insight into another way an existing artist has engaged with nature and how he has used it in it’s simplest form to create some visually appealing work. The connection to nature is stronger than if he just drew this image as nature has been used to create it and I definitely feel that when I look at his work.