News & Writing

“I am Nature”

May 12, 2011

I live in a wood…. my studio being next to one and each day when I am here I walk around it. It is to me like living in a natural art gallery, and almost an extension of my studio, I walk round it, play music in it and marvel at it and today it sounds like the sea.  When people come to visit my studio, I always take them around the wood or it feels as though I haven’t shown them everything. I am beginning to introduce my work into the wood and visa versa now and am experimenting with how work looks from a distance and how it appears as part of nature.

I recently took a writer into the wood behind my studio … I could feel his discomfort as this strange artist he didn’t really know took him without explanation further and further into deserted woods and  it was at this point where he was reminded of  the film “The Stalker” by Tarkovsky of which I have recently become completely obsessed by, (together now with his film about the great Russian Ikon Painter “Rublev”. ) In Stalker  there is the wonderful  “Dream” sequence, which involves photographs and things appearing then disappearing in water. There is another scene where the characters sit and watch a passing shower, a scene, which I experienced first hand while mowing grass. I sat waiting for a heavy May shower to pass which it did, leaving bright sunshine, the smell of fresh cut grass and drips glistening in sunlight. It was like entering a paradise.

Some of my favourite works of art ,poetry and music are related to woodland, Ucello’s , Samuel Palmer’s wonderful moonlit etchings, John Clare’s poems and the work set in nature of Ian Hamilton Finlay also Messiaen’s studies of nature and birdsong (well documented here) and one of the great books I have recently read is about woods and our relationship with them by Roger Deakin.

As the great Jackson Pollock said, dropping the paintbrush in favour of dripping… “I am Nature” and Klee’s famous line remarking that he was “taking a line for a walk”….suggest to me that visual art practice can become part of nature itself… not in a forced kind of way but a most fundamental crossing of the senses.  Walking around the wood each day constantly remind me of the flux, and effects of time. Nature is shifting and changing all the time and I believe that the greatest of art suggests an oneness with nature and can translate to another artform, like the constant flux of light on leaves and lichen in a wood.

Returning to  Pollock, I will always remember walking with a great poet at the Tate retrospective of his work who said that  Pollock was not just a painter, he was a poet, and that all really great artists went from one artform to another.

To my mind, all great music becomes visual and visa versa all the time.  The cross sensory responses I experience are and can in fact be experienced in nature, art and music by all. Just this weekend I ran a workshop where I played the piano to explain paintings, that were produced and in turn provided stimulus for new work, a sort of layering effect. It was a great experience making music after all these years  making images, and I am now tempted to go back to all my paintings using this process.