Dr Pamela Whitaker is an art therapist living in Ireland who practices under the name of Groundswell, a social enterprise working in the areas of art therapy, art and participation, environmental arts, and arts and health. She has written ‘Groundswell: The Nature and Landscape of Art Therapy in Materials and Media in Art Therapy’ (edited by Catherine Hyland Moon) and ‘The Art Therapy Assemblage in Art Therapy and Postmodernism’ (edited by Helene Burt).
This is an article about land art that constructs habitats of refuge or survival shelters. The art of constructing forest sanctuaries, as a form of social media, is a resourcing of found materials transformed into personal and social places of significance. Amidst COVID-19 restrictions, nature became everyone’s place to be and public parks were an essential commonplace for combining and finding a place apart to come together. What emerged in the forests of Phoenix Park, Dublin was the construction of landmarks for protection and solace. As bushcraft and public artforms, these dens act as declarations of personal security and social constructions, occupying both a boundary and an invitation. They are landmarks for solitary pursuits and social encounters—transformative locations for introspection and the communal sharing of a forest.
Katharine Dowson’s inspiration comes from nature, medicine and the scientific world as she often collaborates with scientists as part of her artistic practice. These include researchers investigating genetics, dyslexia and Parkinson’s disease, producing intricate casts of her own heart and brain from MRI scans. Her sculptures are made in various media but especially transparent materials and glass, which she uses as a metaphor for a membrane, a fragile yet robust skin that allows light to pass through and reveal the hidden interior within.
As one of the four fundamental forces in physics it has been harnessed to shape our modern world of electronics and how we interact with each other. For the last four years Fine Artist Richard Paton has explored various enigmatic aspects of magnetism and completed an MA in Art & Science at UAL in 2020. By researching Geomagnetism and Magneto Reception Paton’s artwork looks at how magnetism can be seen as a metaphor revealing a fundamental human disconnection with the earth itself and the animal’s which inhabit the natural world.
In recent pieces he tackles some of the most pressing issues of our times such as habitat degradation and species extinction which draw upon the evolution of the compass, mechanical automata and interactive electronics.
A leading figure in art and ecology, John K. Grande is author of a range of books that include ‘Balance: Art and Nature’ and ‘Art Space Ecology’. In this article he discusses the work of sculptor and environmentalist, Jason deCaires Taylor, in particular his major project Museo Atlantico, a collection over 300 submerged sculptures and architectural forms in Lanzarote, Spain, the first of its kind in European waters. His pioneering public art projects are not only examples of successful marine conservation, but works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world.
Alejandro Durán collects the international trash washing up on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and transforms it into aesthetic yet disquieting art works that wake us to the threat of plastic pollution. Through photography and installation, his long-term project “Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape” examines the fraught intersections of man and nature, revealing the pervasive impact of consumer culture on the natural world. He also engages audiences through community-based environmental art-making and speaking engagements.
Taney Roniger is a visual artist, writer, and educator based in New York. Since the late 90s she has been exploring the relationship between art, science, and the spirituality of immanence in both her work as an artist and in numerous essays and symposia.
The exhibition and the symposium ‘The Camille Diaries: New Artistic Positions on M/Otherhood, Life and Care’ (at ArtLaboratoryBerlin) presents new artistic works by eleven international artists:- Sonia Levy, Mary Maggic, Naja Ryde Ankarfeldt, Baum & Leahy, Špela Petric, Margherita Pevere, Ai Hasegawa, Nicole Clouston, Cecilia Jonsson and Tarah Rhoda. Under the current conditions of our world (the environmental crises, gender aspects, biopolitics, etc.), the artists reflect the term “motherhood” in a greatly expanded form, namely as a ‘taking care of’, as an interpersonal relationship.
“The power of the natural world, its intrinsic energy and fundamental properties, is dependent upon a fine balance. The balance of positive and negative forces resides from the smallest particles that make up our universe to concepts we live with every day: night/day and dark/light; finite/infinite and one/zero; quiet/loud and soft/hard; organic/manmade and the natural environment as opposed to the constructed cities. My work has been centered on concepts of this balance of opposites, as well as methods of numerical systems and patterning we use to construct an order to our world.”
Catherine Eaton Skinner’s works incorporate painting and encaustic, sculpture, printmaking, and photography. The figure, both human and animal, is an important element in her work and acts as a source of inspiration and exploration of identity, spirit and the paradoxes of human existence. She discusses her life and work in ‘Ancient Ritual in Contemporary Mark-Making’.
“I dye, paint and stitch silk and wool to create boldly colored biomorphic wallhangings inspired by microscopic/cellular imagery – a kind of visual invented biology with textiles.”
Fiber artist, Karen Kamenetzky, creates a kind of ‘invented biology’, inspired by microscopic and cellular imagery, with works zooming in on that fundamental nature of things and bringing it into vision. She works loosely from sketches but each piece travels a route of evolution and change.