The Carbon Landscapes Art Project
The Carbon Landscapes Art Project is a body of work inspired by the Landscape of the North West of England. Driven by an interest in conservation, walking, and exploring post-industrial, open spaces; this work digs deeper in terms of the physical restoration of sites during this project.
‘Today’s landscape has developed from a carbon base – coal measures and peat deposits – and it has been dominated by the devastation of the extraction industries. These industries have left their mark on the landscape, but part of the legacy is an extraordinary rich and diverse natural heritage.’ Lancashire Wildlife Trust
The artwork is made site responsively, and developed through learning more about the conservation process and by being present on site. Walking is used as a process of exploration, through which visual research is collected. Intaglio prints are made site responsively, with found materials by placing copper plates in fields, where subtle marks, and tonal nuances are made by changes in the environment. The plates act as a dialogue between the temporality of movement and the permanence of making marks on a surface.
Large-scale carbon drawings are made to represent the linear connections or meta-patterns found within the natural environment. They offer a map towards a disconnection from society and the routes found in public open spaces. Walking and drawing, both embodied mediations through spaces are represented, as a repetition of line, movement and rhythm. The walk as an act of reflection, and an action, is translated into a line or mark made with carbon on paper. Mining for materials in sites across the North West – all of which were former mines or quarries – employs a sense of excavation, grafting raw material for colour. Iron ore, slate, coal, clay, and stone, which are all used as drawing materials. The synergy between materials, fluidity and movement is evidenced in process of layering to make visceral surfaces or skins, which are cut into, making a tactile, fetishist quality. Marking and working the material over and over creates seams of colour and the contouring of the surface.
This process intimates consideration of hydraulic fracturing in Lancashire. The fact that we are not fully aware of how fracking impacts upon public health and that Capitalism dictates that there is apparently no time to invest in sustainable, renewable energy sources. The dialogue between Art and Politics is not new, the connection with open spaces and landscape, and the freedom to explore link this body of work with the Right To Roam on the common land.
‘The Earth was made a common treasury for all’ – Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1670)
The project supports The Wildlife Trusts’ work to restore, reconnect, raise awareness and develop community ownership in the landscape. One element of this will be to pilot an Arts and Health project, amplifying the benefits of working in the natural environment with creative process. Research and development of site-specific new work within conservation sites and former mines between Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside is being made in collaboration with artist Catherine Hawkins. We aim to shift the aesthetic of this Post Industrial Landscape by establishing dialogues with other cultural organisations around heritage, aspiration and the regeneration of rich ecological networks across the North West.