I wrote an article on environmental art (with the title We are Nature, taken from a quote by Andy Goldsworthy) and interviewed some lovely artists and – if you would like to – you can read about it in the new issue of Exmoor magazine. I was so inspired talking to them that I was tempted to give everything up and start a brand new life, but Naomi the editor advised I get over my cystitis first, which I am endeavouring to do. It was also lovely to return to my ‘neck of the woods’ after so long. I am a West Country girl and I know these here parts. The issue is available to order from the website (details below).
I wasn’t sure I knew what environmental art was (so many artists resist the term, but we had to call it something – other options are land art/eco art) but that in itself became a starting point for discussion. Amongst many things it explores the effects of time, the relationship between people and their natural environment and the beauty in loss, decay and regeneration.
It can be urban or rural, ephemeral or permanent, and is often made with found materials: leaves, flowers, branches, ice, stone. You may not even notice it. There is a debate about whether it even needs to be noticed. There is also nothing preachy about it, it doesn’t exist to explicitly ‘tackle’ environmental problems.
I like the performance art side of it, because it speaks to the performer/actor in me. I like its obliqueness. I also like how it attracts an outsider view, and outsiders generally. To paraphrase artist/sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, it takes you somewhere you’ve never thought of going, “whether it’s in the mind or the world.”
Thank you to metal artist/sculptress Belle Cole, sculptor Michael Fairfax and beach artist Ieva Slare and her family for such lovely chats and genuinely inspiring views of the world.
And lastly, the photo above is of me and my dad, on Exmoor, 13 years ago. I was about to get married and move to LA. I was very happy, and strangely relaxed despite all the planning, probably because I was based on Exmoor at the time and was infused with its spirit, and everything was just…unfolding. Also, my dad, Tony James, is a ‘proper’ writer, a journalist since the age of 16, and a West Somerset ‘local’, having been adopted many years ago from his native Derby. Still supports Derby County though. He is one of Exmoor magazine’s lead writers.
Andy Goldsworthy: “We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
One of the original environmental artists Richard Long on A line made by walking: “My first work made by walking, in 1967, was a straight line in a grass field, which was also my own path, going ‘nowhere’. In the subsequent early map works, recording very simple but precise walks on Exmoor and Dartmoor, my intention was to make a new art which was also a new way of walking: walking as art.”