Reflections on reflections on reflections.

Continuing to think about my work and re-writing my artist statement there are many things going around in my mind. So in some respects I want to unload them here. I have gone backwards and forwards through my log, re-reading pieces, trying to assimilate a sense of ‘wholeness’. There are thoughts that have come up that remain pertinent and writings that have stuck in my head. I find the more I explore these ideas, the more questions raised and new artists to look at.

The philosopher, Heidegger, has cropped up in reading in connection with John Newling, and in other reading in relation to the artist, Annette Heyer. There are references to the idea of ‘being’ that interest me, in particular for the connection to the sense of myself and the willow being together- the space the willow has created has in some respects allowed for deep reflection on the natural world and it cycles, in particular the uncertainties and challenges it poses us.

I also read, ‘the theme of humanity’s realization of dwelling through the cultivation of nature and through building structures.’ This immediately set me off thinking about my work with willow and the fact that I have been growing willow and creating work from it. It has made me think more about the possibilities of a kind of model of art practice- being with willow.

 Amy Lipton charts the way contemporary artists are making this very real physical connection with nature. She says, ‘these artists are involved in a re-engagement with nature that goes beyond representation to an active participation with the life cycles of nature. Connected to but revolutionizing the landscape tradition, these are works without an horizon which are not concerned with viewing nature from afar but rather engaging with it directly. These works embody a broader concept of art in its relationship to nature, one which is informed but not limited by science, history and critical discourse.’

Theses words add to my sense that a model of art practice around willow is a valid possibility and something I could work towards. There are many aspects that appeal to me, in particular the idea of working towards sustainability in practice.

I have finally got around to reading ‘What is art? Joseph Beuys’ and have a better understanding of his ideas about an extended concept of art and social sculpture-

‘My objects are to be seen as stimulants for the transformation of the idea of sculpture, or of art in general. They should provoke thoughts about what sculpture can be and how the concept of sculpting can be extended to the invisible materials used by everyone:

Thinking forms- how we mould our thoughts

Spoken forms- how we shape our thoughts into words

Social sculpture- how we mould and shape the world in which we live:

Sculpture as an evolutionary process; everyone an artist.

That is why the nature of my sculpture is not fixed and finished. Processes continue in most of them: chemical reactions, fermentations, colour changes, decay, drying up. Everything is in a state of change.’      

As soon as I had finished it I felt as though I needed to read it again to tease out and better assimilate what is in there. I got a sense of it being about a creative approach to how we live our lives, and help to shape the world in which we live. Beuys was a founding member of The Green Party.

Another artist that has cropped up on a number of occasions recently is herman de vries. His work resonated for me very strongly. He offers no representation of landscape or nature- he quite simply presents nature as itself. There is a strong sense of the artist/scientist at work. He records, collects and accumulates material from the natural world- like natures ‘ready-mades’. His ‘earth museum’ contains 100’s of soil samples, and continues to grow as other people have started to contribute towards his collection.

my poetry is the world

I write it everyday

I re-write it every day

I see it everyday

I read it everyday

I eat it every day I sleep it everyday


the world is my chance

it changes everyday

my chance is my poetry

Again having read this book I feel I want to return to the beginning and re-read it. I have a strong sense of it relevance for me. There are many references to the art-life-nature connections that have cropped up in my contextual studies in relation to Hesse, Roth and Newling. Much of de vries work is centred around where he lives- his house, meadow and forest. He refers to it as his ‘life space’.

I shall definitely explore Heidegger, Beuys and de vries futher, but what I am taking from these explorations is something about the life meets art connections that may be relevant to my creative practice with willow- the artist-gardener-ecologist.

Gooding, Mel (2006) herman de vries- Chance and Change. Thames and Hudson, London.

Harlan, Volker (2004) What is art? Joseph Beuys. Clairview Books, RH19 4QQ

Heyer, Annette (2001) As for the future….. The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.

This entry was posted in Painting 3- Contextual Studies, Painting 3- Major Project, Reading and Research and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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