Recently, I’ve been moving away from making work based on the evidence behind the Anthropocene.
My current work is exploring youth, coming of age and the messy escapism that comes with it. I’m comparing our reaction to the Anthropocene (destruction of the world’s natural systems) to our reaction to growing up into adulthood. Just as with the Anthropocene, when we come to terms with the reality of growing up it all just seems too much and rather than facing it head on, we spiral and seek out other problems. We choose escapism over solutions. I think this is a feeling that will resonate with all generations.
I find comparisons with my lines of thought and Plato’s allegory of the cave. In the allegory prisoners are shacked facing the back wall of a cave. Behind them is a road that people travel on. The prisoners experience these people as Shadows. When the prisoners are released from their chains they run out of the cave into the light and experience the people and objects as the truly are. The prisoners cannot cope with reality and so run back to the cave and the shadows on the wall. In the allegory the shadows represent a false reality, an illusion of the truth.
I think this is an incredibly relevant time to be exploring this line of thought. A pandemic, a symptom of the Anthropocene, has come along and rather than creating a dystopia, it’s revealed that we’ve been living in one all along. I read an article the other day that said ‘Women under 25 finances hit worst by virus’ and another that claimed that the under 25 population are most likely to be working in unstable public sector and therefore be vulnerable to redundancies. Finding the right path for your future is hard enough, let alone doing it during a pandemic, with little to no savings, in unstable employment, with a government that will throw you under the bus, facing a financial depression and thinking about how you’re going to be paying COVID off through your taxes till you die.
Took a break from my professional practice over lockdown. Went on a staycation up at the north coast and took this picture, thought it was too nice not to paint.
In this painting I was exploring how/ why we find disturbing images aesthetically pleasing or horrific news stories entertaining/ fascinating. Our reality is so detached from that of the people who appear in these headlines that their reality becomes more of a fantasy. These people are real victims of climate change. Some day this will become our reality too.
As part of my ‘Shout outs for Keyworkers’ project I’ve been creating and sending postcards to the people who feature in the sketches as a thank you for all their hard work and to spread some positivity. I had a great response to the images of the postcards so made them available to buy on redbubble as greeting cards, post cards and stickers.
Timothy Morton introduces the idea of the ecological loop in his book ‘Dark Ecology’. He proposes, “since there is no limit to the scope of ecological beings (biosphere, solar system), we can infer that all things have a loop form. Ecological awareness is a loop because human interference has a loop form, because ecological and biological systems are loops. And ultimately this is because to exist at all is to assume the form of a loop” (Timothy Morton, 2016).
We are part of the ecological loop, therefore when we impact another component within the loop, we simultaneously impact ourselves. Take for example how the use of pesticides not only impacts Bee populations, but also humans indirectly. A decline in Bee population means a reduction in pollination which, results in a reduced crop yield. Morton describes this as a ‘positive feedback loop’, inside which an alteration in the system exaggerates the influence of its operation.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with different methods in putting down paint and varying thinness/ thickness. Quicker compositions, mimicking how I would create my initial sketches pre painting with a watercolour wash in the background and oil pastel on top. I’m currently trying to get out of my head, avoid heading too much towards realism and be more open with my layering of paint and brushwork.
Research shows that 90% of the public are not engaging with the subject of climate change, still less the wider issues of the Anthropocene. A new geological epoch named the Anthropocene is being considered because scientists now have evidence that humankind has become a geological force impacting all the world’s systems: the biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and geosphere. This project is intended to encourage dialogue with visitors using art created by resident artists and also that selected through an open call.
Work selected from the open call will be shown alongside established invited artists, in an exhibition at the University of Brighton Grand Parade gallery, during the week from 27th July to 2nd August. During this time there will also be events and opportunities for visitors to talk to 8 resident artists. The aim is to foster conversations and public engagement with this important subject both within the local community and further afield. Selected work will also be shown on social media and this website. One important topic within our conversation will be that of environmental justice and as such we particularly encourage applications from artists who identify as people of colour.
During my research into ice melt in second year, I came across the theory of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is the proposed new geological epoch that scientists believe we entered when the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The transition into the Anthropocene signifies the undeniable and irreversible impact of human activity on the Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere and acknowledges human presence as a geophysical force.
For the Anthropocene to become an official epoch within the geological timeline, the International Stratigraphy Commission must be presented irrefutable evidence. The Anthropocene Working Group made up of scientists and geologists from around the world, have the task of collecting evidence in favour for the Anthropocene.
This evidence includes chicken fossils, extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, rise in global sea level, carbon emissions, the 6th mass extinction event, global migration crises, plastic pollution, concrete and nuclear activity.
I created a series of small drawing documenting this evidence in favour of the Anthropocene. I chose to use images not containing people as my work is about the consequences of human activity, not human activity.
Exhibited in PR1 Gallery, Preston, February 2018, ‘THIS IS AN OUTRAAGGGEEE!!!!’ explored different ways in which themes of outrage could be presented through the means of art, from a variety of perspectives and in different mediums …. and yes, it was inspired by ‘The Mighty Boosh’🌝.
Our world is no longer a natural one, human activity has been so profound that it has changed the earth’s biology irreversibly and undeniably, transitioning us into a new epoch, the Anthropocene. Through my paintings, I explored and highlighted the theory of the Anthropocene and the scientific evidence behind it, particularly relating to nuclear activity. The presence of nuclear isotopes is one of the clearest piece of geological evidence to prove that humans have altered the Earth. Nuclear isotopes that have entered the soil will be detectable 100,000 years from now.
Exhibited in Hanover Project, Preston, in November 2016.
[mass noun] The action or process of manufacturing or inventing something.
‘the assembly and fabrication of electronic products’
[count noun] An invention; a lie
We live in a world that is dominated by fabrication, from the humble paperclip to the light bulb above your head, society itself is built in the same way. We accept this. Our world is man-made, conceived, designed and manufactured. This inevitably saturates individuals to the point of overload gripping them with lust for unobtainable perfection. As artists, we seek to understand and convey the contradictions that are embedded in our societies. Thus, we (artists) are stepping out of society to view it from the different perspective, into the light so to speak. We are suspending our acceptance of all things as presented to us by the forces underpinning society, thus challenge the normalisation of the everyday. This collective represents the many facets of fabrication past and present that shape us with or without our consent.
In year two I decided my work needed to founded in a more stable and defined concept. Continuing on from my interest in human perception, I began reading on the subject itself and came across Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which human perception is subject in question.
To summarise the allegory:
Prisoners have been chained in a cave, facing the back wall all their lives. A fire burns behind them. Outside the cave is a road, which people and animals travel. The prisoners experience these travellers and the objects they carry as shadows and sounds. For them the shadows are the true versions of these people and objects, the sounds belong to the shadows. The prisoners escape and are faced with the true image of the people and objects, the prisoners cannot cope with this altered reality and run back to the safety of the cave and its shadows.
In the allegory the shadows represent a false vision of the truth, an illusion of reality.
William Kentridge is an artist who has also been inspired by Plato’s allegory of the cave. In his work he uses puppets, drawings and cardboard cut outs to create shadows. His work is influenced by the brutality of Apartheid which, he experienced growing up in South Africa. His work reflects the hard reality of living though such violence and tension and the hard journey through it.
I became heavily influenced by the film genre of Film Noir, where the shadows are used heavily to introduce the feeling of menace. I explored other tools and themes used in Film Noir, such as, narration, the addition of the anti-hero detective, making time elastic through manipulation in editing software and using props such as venetian blinds. In the film only the shadows of the subject are visible, returning to the ideas reflected in Plato’s Cave. The viewer never sees the subject, only its shadow, the illusion of a truth, the fake reality I’ve created.
Watch the film:
I watched ‘Blackfish’. If you haven’t, go 👏 watch 👏it 👏now 👏
In the second term of second year I became interested in investigating environmental issues throughout my work. The vastness of the subject prompted me select one issue to study, I chose ice melt. In keeping with my work last term, I wanted to address human perception on the subject ice melt, ignorance and denial surrounding the issue. I try to address this by increasing knowledge and perception of ice and melt and its consequences locally and globally.
I was inspired by Tacita Dean’s chalk board drawing which are labelled giving them a educational style. I came across the work of Joseph Beuy’s work on last years Berlin trip to the Hamburger Bahnhof gallery, his collection of chalk boards, props and wall drawings resembled that of an investigation, this exhibition inspired how my work progressed towards deadline.
I set up an installation, set up as an office space that was actively engaging in investigating and protesting ice melt. The installation was made up of 9 sections protest action, the consequences of ice melt, conflict over oil that will arise post ice melt, redacted facts, denial and government cover ups, local consequences and RIP ice. A laptop in the office space displayed social media accounts that spread my work online, spreading the word on social media, experimental films including the parody sponsorship adverts and how to (melt ice) videos and a filmed performance of protesters, acting out the consequences of the Greenland ice sheet melting by creating 7m out of body lengths on the floor.
In my first year at university, I won a bursary to travel to Singapore. Before the trip, my work had been concerned with urban areas and human perception of the everyday.
I became interested in land use and human activity within space, on my discovery of how and is owned and occupied in the country.
In Singapore most of the country is owned by the government and is rented out to tenants at a high price, as a result, most of the working population of Singapore live in Malaysia and commute across the bridge the connects the two countries every day for work.
The only places I visited in Singapore that seemed legitimately occupied, lived in or real, were China Town and Little India. These areas are neither economically well off, structurally developed or modern as the rest of the country. These areas were populated with migrant who worked and lived in the same space, this gave these areas a feeling of genuineness and realness that the rest of Singapore lacks. The country has a highly developed, modern, financial district feel to it which contrasts heavily with these rustic, almost local areas.
In response to my visit, I created a series of paintings on canvas of China town, Singapore, in which, I tried to create the feeling of urban shabbiness and authenticity.