Living Art: Environmental Art Installations.
I have spent the majority of this summer living in a tent. Moving form place to place. One place I kept on returning to was Lammas Eco Village in West Wales. Lammas is a pioneering project challenging us to see an alternative way of living and being on this earth. The community intends to live a low impact lifestyle, respectful and careful of the environment. A lifestyle that is to be lived in cooperation with nature, not competition.
When you live outside, even for just a few months and without intention, you become connected to nature in a completely different way. I loved watching this happen and being aware of the changes it brought.
Whilst at Lammas, I started to play around with small 'art projects' in the garden/farm (at Lammas they tend to be referred to interchangeably). First they were practical projects: I constructed a willow archway and then a willow hedge for the circular garden on the plot where I was staying. Whilst creating the arch from live willow, I was aware that what I was doing was just the start of something bigger. The willow was living and so would continue to grow. The arch would change shape and alter as time went on and as Mother Nature took back control.
From here I moved to nearby beaches, creating pieces from objects I found on the shoreline. Whereas the willow arch's lifespan was infinite, these pieces were ephemeral. Constructed on sections of the beach where the high-tide reaches, they would only last a maximum of 12 hours, before the ocean would once again reclaim her objects. Sometimes I set myself rules for a piece. For instance: only objects found within a certain range, or limiting the time I had to create a piece (if the tide didn't already do that). They were quick, spontaneous works; no planning. They grew and formed themselves on the spot. But I was surprised by how much beauty the pieces held – the variety in colours, shapes, textures and materials I could find amazed me.
These pieces reminded me of three dimensional versions of my earlier work- drawings of maps I had created years ago whilst studying art. I had drawn, with found objects, the same way I draw with pencil, pen, charcoal, pastel and paint.
The next piece I worked on was back at Lammas. It was an environmental art installation at the far end of the plot my tent and I lived on. I choose a part of the plot that had a nice physical shape to it, and that had a flow of movement and direction. It was a space that carried you in like the perspective of a painting. It had an energy that I liked and although it was a gateway from one plot to another, it was a space that was hardly ever used.
I worked in the space for four days creating a piece I titled Ley lines. The piece was created almost entirely from items found on the plot itself, both natural and found objects. The only things I brought in externally were some tape and string. I wanted the piece to reflect Lammas community's intention of self-sufficiency.
All ideas for the piece came from the space itself and how I wanted to work with, interpret and manipulate that space and the objects in it. Relating directly with the space at that particular point in time and working with the objects in and around it; the colours of the season, the lines, shapes and textures that the space naturally holds and working with these elements.
The piece includes lines of platted grass, paint strokes of coloured plastic sheeting, strung flowers, a woven willow screen and swinging willow hoops, rocks dangling from trees, piles of leaves and rows of sones. In between all of this, plants grow, animals move and the time and weather alter things. Every hour of every day the piece will change until eventually a combination of weather and growth will reclaim this site and all that is in it.
Later on I heard that this space is believed to be positioned on ley lines. Ley lines are most often thought of as the geometric alignment of ancient landscapes, connecting both natural and sacred prehistoric structures together. It refers to physical, spiritual and energy alignments and pathways.
For more info on ley lines: www.ancient-wisdom.com