Working primarily with drawing and painting, my aim is to explore the embodied experience of particular landscapes in which there is a sense of being ‘on the edge’, both physically and metaphysically. This interest has led me to some of the more remote parts of the British Isles, Iceland, Greenland, and Spitzbergen in the Svalbard Archipelago. The rhythm of walking and working is integral to my practice.
Two field trips to Arctic Greenland had a profound effect on the way I work, and what I want to achieve in my work – the level of isolation that occurs when one works within the landscape for weeks on end is bound to have an impact. There is necessarily a slowing down; an engagement with nature on a deeper level; a changed mental state that is open and receptive, and an increased awareness of the interconnectedness of things.
Greenland provided the paradox of raw beauty and the harsh reality of a wild rugged landscape, which at the same time offers a sense of immense space, and an awareness of the minutiae of the elements that make up the landscape. The paintings and drawings I made from there evoke the experience of the landscape rather than depicting it. In this sense, the work is one removed from the initial impetus, taking its form at the interface between memory and process.
Many of the projects I have undertaken have involved collaborating with scientists, whether as an informal arrangement, or as part of a specific Art/Science project. The fact that artists and scientists have different intentions for their research which inevitably respond to different disciplinary requirements, does not preclude an enriching and fruitful collaboration, in fact, a dialogue between the two enhances it. Having the opportunity to engage with a particular site as part of a shared activity brings the prospect of gaining different types of insight that I have always found beneficial to my practice, in that it provides a broader range of concepts and imagery for me to draw on. The artist and the scientist are, after all, both trying to make sense of the world and understand something of its processes.
The Greenland project is an example of an informal collaboration with a scientist, in that I travelled and worked alongside a geologist with botanical interests. The conversations that we had, and the shared experience impacted on my work in terms of a greater awareness of land structures and processes, and the complexities of tundra growth and change.
A more formal collaboration, Arctic Dialogues, involved a field period in Spitzbergen on the Svalbard Archipelago (78° 13’N), before the Polar sunrise in February 2009 with a small group of Atmospheric Scientists who are looking at the behaviour of pollutants in the snow pack. The project draws on a consideration of shared activities including notions of observation, investigation and experimentation under themes including scale, form, light, and attention to detail, and is ongoing.
In Svalbard, one of the by-products of the scientific processes was a collection of filters from the filtration of melted snow samples. As waste to the scientists, these papers provided me with a new focus, particularly after looking at them under magnification, whereby the deposits took on a different sense. They became complex topographies, suggesting valleys, river systems, peaks and troughs. These have formed the basis of recent experiments which use different materials, scale, format and ground to explore notions of deposition, surface and texture, in order to ‘know’ something of the subject.
- 2000 – 04
- M.Phil. Fine Art: Practice and Theory, Lancaster University. Thesis title: Authenticity: Its Nature and Relevance in Contemporary Practice
- 1994 – 97
- B.A. (Hons.) Art: History and Culture. Lancaster University
Lecturer in Fine Art: Painting, Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art (LICA), Lancaster University
- Arctic Dialogues: Conversations Between Art & Science, Atrium Gallery, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
- Taseralik Cultural Centre, Sisimiut, Greenland
- Katuaq, National Culture Centre, Nuuk, Greenland
- AtticSalt, Edinburgh
- Edge Gallery, Lancaster
- Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University
- Close to Home; Artists Reconsider the Local, East Street Arts, Leeds
- Environmental Dialogues, CORE (Creative Research into the Environment) city-wide exhibition, Festival Square, Edinburgh
- ‘Experimentality’, Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University
- ‘Location’, Michael West Gallery, Isle of Wight
- Institute of Physics, Portland Place, London
- Alexandra Gallery, St. Martin’s College, Lancaster
- ‘Findings: The Hindburn Project’, 2 person show, Lancaster Environment Centre Gallery 23, Lancaster
- The Spiral Gallery, Lancaster
- ‘Habitats: Art & Science’, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
Seminar and Symposium Papers
- ‘Home Ground’, Close to Home symposium, East Street Arts, Leeds
- ‘Filtering Arctic Light: Chemical Encounters Between Art & Science, Department of Anthropology, Manchester University
Awards and Funding
- Lancaster University Research grant award: ‘Arctic Dialogues’
- Lancaster University travel grant award for ‘Greenland’ exhibition
- Exhibition funding, Katuaq, Greenland
- Arts Council England, Research and Development: ‘Arctic Dialogues’
- Arts Council England, Research and Development: ‘Greenland’