The Anthropocene is a term that encapsulates the effects we as a species are having on the Earth and its inhabitants. We now exist in a world of accelerated extinction rates, suffocating pollution levels, and mass deforestation to name just a few, as well as an unabated population explosion.
It highlights the detachment between nature and human interaction. We live in bricks and mortar which are designed to keep nature and the elements out, we travel in metal boxes; be it a train, plane or car, to have a short walk into a building that we spend the day working in, again detached from nature and sheltered from the elements. Our experiences in the western world need very little interaction with nature if we choose to do so.
These factors of the Anthropocene and the legacy we are leaving (or more accurately destroying) for future generations, constantly feed into my practice.
Beaches are significant sites for me because they are a constantly changing synapse between land and sea, a hinterland. Tonnes of our waste get deposited into our oceans to be forgotten about, for it to then get regurgitated back onto our shorelines, along with plastic choked marine life. The ocean does not discriminate as to where it dumps its cargo. It ends up on the furthest remote islands, our white sand holiday destinations, tainting our landscapes and areas of natural beauty, no longer being able to be ignored.
This idea of man made objects becoming intertwined with the landscape and becoming part of our geological make up, due to their lack of biodegradability, both fascinates and horrifies me. It’s quite a sobering thought that potentially, in thousands of years, there is going to be more remnants of these toxic man made substances as evidence of the Anthropocene, than organic plant and animal matter.
The crux of my work focuses on the natural world and the alarming rate of declining species, habitats and how we play a fundamental role in this struggle for survival. In this time of uncertainty and instability what part can art play? Can it address these environmental problems that are being entrenched in stone?
Animals are starting to adapt to the irreversible changes man is having on ecosystems. We already have areas of the planet that we cannot inhabit such as Chernobyl, where the animals and plants have returned and are thriving. We however, cannot set foot there without protective radiation suits; even then we can only ever be tourists in this radioactive human ‘wasteland’. Could this be a glimpse into the future of a planet devoid of humans?
We are the history of the future; we look back at history and the relics that have been left by our ancestors, as proof of our existential superiority over all other species we cohabit the earth with, and to archive our progression and growth from past generations.
My work concentrates on creating ‘fossils of the future’, focusing on the industrial legacy, and scars in our landscape that we will leave behind. I choose custom materials that I think will work with certain pieces, or which make a greater statement about our geological and environmental legacy.
Blurring the boundaries between the manmade and the natural is something that is pertinent to my practice. Altering perceptions of objects, whether it is in the way they are displayed, the materials that I choose to create them with, or the context in which they are experienced.