In my practice I attempt to use painting to examine the ways in which we experience and understand landscape. Intermediates – like windows, screens, postcards – can inform a potentially problematic understanding of the world around us, and create an image of “nature” as something separate from humanity.
A traditional or idealist concept of Nature comes from a Romanticised image of a pristine wilderness, untouched by humans: but this concept is something that progressive ecologists and eco-critics are trying to dismantle, because it feeds into a damaging human/nature binary. If we put “Nature” on a pedestal and reduce it to an object separate from us, it’s then easy to ignore. However, if this dualism was broken down, it would be possible to gain a greater understanding of human ecology: that environmental problems are not problems that belong to the Environment, but are problems that belong to us.
I’m interested in questioning whether our experiences through different intermediaries reinforce this romanticised idea of nature. In glimpses of landscapes through moving train windows I attempt to use painting as a means to explore a more temporal experience of a landscape we’ve merely glanced at. So too in reproduced images of landscapes, like those on postcards, or in books, we gain a potentially false understanding of a place. This relates to another interesting concept, that of a “celebrity landscape” – places like the Grand Canyon that are easily recognisable to many despite having never set foot there.
This line of enquiry has also lead to a parallel development of the work beyond traditional painting, in the design and build of a “Vargon” (an amalgamation of ‘vardo’ and ‘waggon’). This hand built wooden caravan is capable of moving through the landscape itself, again questioning how the ways in which we experience landscape feed into our understanding of it.