LANDSCAPE OF CHANGE EXHIBITION – BHVU GALLERY 26TH AUGUST – 18TH SEPTEMBER 2011
Painting the marshes
I record the seasonal changes at the Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes, near to my home and studio, with frequency. I like to walk the same route and experience the view of that moment in time: a combination of the season, weather and encounters with other users of the marshes. I translate the photos, sketches and observations into painting. My paintings are not the towering, sublime, idealised images of traditional landscape painting. They display an urban landscape crisscrossed with railways and powerlines, a managed space with little patches of wild co-existing.
Dog Walkers, Winter, Marshes, 2010
6 small works L to R top: Summer Railway Embankment 2011, Autumn Railway Embankment 2010
L to R middle: Spring, Summer Marshes 2011
L to R bottom: Autumn, Winter Marshes 2011
Silent Tide, Flood:Fire, Documenting Bluebells
These installations seek to engage the viewer with issues that are occurring in our environment because of changes accentuated by human interference. My use of lab ware references the scientific communities looking at these issues and striving to find solutions. I am mainly positive about the future and believe that human ingenuity and creativity can provide us with these solutions and provide alternatives to the unsustainable ways that we currently live.
Flood:Fire and Silent Tide
Silent Tide – Eucalyptus branch, Murray River salt, Lab ware
The salination of soil and fresh groundwater is a major issue in Australia. In this ancient continent topsoil is not deep. Salty groundwater locked deep beneath the land in times when Australia had a massive inland sea rises up when the land is cleared of trees and irrigated for agriculture. The soil and water becomes often irreversibly salty, poisoned and plants cannot continue to thrive. The Murray Darling is the biggest river system in Australia, providing drinking water for a vast region and is the traditional heartland for agriculture. It has become necessary to build massive salt inception schemes to keep the water of the system fresh. The schemes keep around 300 tonnes of salt from entering the river system daily. The beautiful pink salt used in the installation is actually a culinary grade ‘gourmet’ salt. Obviously it would be impossible for the population to eat its’ way out of this problem but the small amount of salt produced that is suitable for consumption is a welcome by-product.
Flood:Fire – scorched Eucalyptus branch, mud, paper, Lab ware
I arrived in Sydney in February 2009 as a natural disaster was unfolding in Victoria. 400 bushfires were raging. A fatal combination of a long period of drought, record-setting high temperatures and winds in excess of 100 km provided some of the worst bush-fire conditions ever recorded. This extreme weather event has been described as the kind of event that will occur with greater frequency in the future in association with climate changes. On Saturday 7th February firestorms engulfed 78 townships, destroying 2030 homes. 1,100,000 acres burned and 173 people lost their lives in the fires.
Two years later and at the start of 2011 Australia is once again in the grip of a natural disaster. This time floodwaters have engulfed Brisbane and deluged nearly three quarters of this immense State. Population pressures lead to land and water management issues. Swamplands disappear under industrial zones, rivers are diverted into narrow culverts under towns, a dam is left too full and all of this exacerbates the situation when cyclone Tasha brings monsoonal rains. As the temperature rises, more heavy monsoonal rains can be expected in this region. 35 people lost their lives in the floods.
Fire and flood are regular features of the ecology of Australia, however the way we live means that the natural balance becomes thrown out. People find they are living at the frontline, at the mercy of often unstoppable natural forces made worse through our interventions. At the base of the sculpture 203 paper eucalyptus leaves represent the lives lost in both tragedies.
Flood:Fire detail 2011
A photographic record of the installation of a carpet of flowering Bluebells in the gallery space and their subsequent planting out into a natural site. This piece highlights the fragility of this much loved floral emblem of the UK and the future threat to the Bluebells’ continued existence as it suffers from cross-hybridisation from the imported Spanish bluebell, the rise in spring temperatures and earlier spring occurrence.