Update…

Another week gone by and the coronavirus situation hasn’t gotten better although I think I’m dealing with it a little better. I’d say this is largely due to a big oil pastel drawing I have been doing in times of stress. It’s literally just the words “Covid-19 Anxiety” but I think since it’s so colourful and fun to draw it takes some of my fear away and gets what is on my mind (and everyone else) out and onto paper.

I will continue to post it’s progress since it’s looking like I’ll have time to fill in the whole thing with crazy oil pastel colours!

Degree Show Cancellation 😦

General Waste – Paper cut out installation

Like most other art degree end of year exhibitions, ours too (the Leeds Arts University Degree Show 2020) has unfortunately been cancelled due to the damn coronavirus. I am devastated.

With an awareness that there are many much worse things happening because of this pandemic I am trying not to dwell on it too much. It is what it is. But I feel it necessary (and cathartic) to discuss. For us art students this is a culmination of 3 years hard work and learning. It is the event that sets off many graduates careers, where they have the opportunity to showcase their work to important audiences with offers of funding and residencies etc. It is also a celebration of graduating, of finishing an art degree, which in my opinion is a task not to be underestimated, it’s hard!

There will be no physical degree show. BUT there is opportunity for some kind of online degree show. With our creativity and ingenuity we will make something that showcases our practices, it will be strange not to exhibit a physical piece to an audience. But I am excited to see what we come up with!

Checking in!

Hello internet. I have unfortunately been absent from this blog for a couple of weeks. I usually try to prep a post on Sunday and get it up Sunday night / Monday morning, but for a few reasons that has been difficult recently. I have been working on a large post about fast fashion that I will hopefully finish soon and I have been more busy then usual in general because I’m in my final year of uni. But a big contributor to my lack of posting has been coronavirus…

As someone with health anxiety I have been struggling to stay positive at times. With all the underlying (and non-underlying) stress from our current global situation, I have found it hard to stay motivated.

As I’m sure many of you are in the same boat I thought I’d share. Hopefully knowing others are having difficulties with this is a comfort to some of you and we can try to keep each other positive.

Here are some of the things I have been doing to combat the bad thoughts!

  1. NOT checking coronavirus updates constantly. Being informed enough to stay safe but avoiding excessive exposure to media coverage on this subject.
  2. Accepting that its normal to have fear and anxiety while not allowing that to take over by focusing on what I can control e.g. washing my hands, social distancing…
  3. Distracting myself by keeping busy with work/ being creative.
  4. Going out SAFELY. I have been social distancing, but I have been getting out into nature. It’s always cathartic and its something to do which doesn’t involve contact with anyone. In other words I’m taking my dog on a lot of long walks at the moment. He thinks it’s great!
Jumping action shot
NASA Image

One more thing – I have been wondering how all of this will affect the environment and climate crisis. There has been an image going round comparing pollution in China before and during Covid-19 showing that pollution has dramatically decreased. But will this last, or will corporations over compensate when this is all over? Exploring this might have to be another post!

What ever the ecological after effects are to be, there is no denying that in the case of coronavirus people all over the world are relying on science for information and instruction. I hope that this will spur discussion on the climate crisis and urge more people to accept what scientist say about the climate and environment. It is something to be taken just as seriously (if not more) as covid-19.

Collage

Some collages I have been making from cut up pieces of old work…

Environmental poster collages:

I like collage because it allows me to keep making imagery without need of any new materials. I can reuse the paper etc that I have over and over again, making different things each time. Endlessly reproducing work out of the same stuff.

Anthropocence

“The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.”

– Wikipedia description

The Anthropcoence is an important theme in my practice. I am interested humans have become detached from nature, why we have developed a belief that we are at the centre of everything. The notion that nature is separate from us and is there to serve us is something I have never felt aligned to, because to me humans are part of nature.

Historian Keith Thomas suggests this belief system began long ago in his book ‘Man and The Natural World‘.

Man and The Natural World

He cites the Bible as a contributor to this long-established human-centric view. With the rebellion of Adam and Eve being the start of man’s control over nature and thus the downfall of it.

Man and The Natural World

I wanted to make a drawing inspired by this theme and in particular this text. A historical piece that tells the story from of Adam and Eves peaceful natural Paradise, to its fall and degeneration and finally the world we currently live in as influenced by that.

Paradise Falls

This digital drawing evolved out of my idea and an initial felt tip drawing. It has a tapestry like composition, split into three sections that show a different time.

The top panel depicts a serene Garden of Eden with the lion and lamb lying together peacefully and features a tree with one single red apple growing. I took inspiration from religious paintings of Paradise and The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

The Garden of Earthly Delights

The middle is after the fall of Paradise due to human rebellion. A stark contrast from the top section, with the lion now ferocious and the lamb running for its life. The Garden of Eden now resembles Bosch’s depiction of hell more closely. The apple tree has been struck down and the now eaten and decaying apple is on the ground.

Artwork from Instagram by @anthropocencezine

The final section at the bottom is like a mash up of the two above it. Picturing a modern day road through an agricultural land. It may appear stable and alright at first glance. However when you notice all of the roadside rubbish and the car exhaust pollution it is clear that this scene is not an idyllic landscape, but more of a realistic telling of the negative impacts we have had on the natural world. Even the deceptively natural looking hills show that the Earth has been intensely meddled with by man for agricultural purposes. Everything curated to prioritise human interests over the interests of the planet as a whole.

I am hoping to digitally print ‘Paradise Falls’ onto fabric as nod to tapestries, with the text excerpt from Man and The Natural World on the back.

Ditching (new) plastic:

So recently I’ve been trying to considerably decrease my consumption of new plastic. Avoiding anything that is unnecessarily wrapped up or anything that has an alternative recyclable option. I have not managed to completely stop buying new plastic yet, it is a process and a bit of a learning curve, but I’m trying my best!

(I say “new” plastic because I want to get rid of plastic items that already belong to me, things that I can continue to and are not furthering any of my negative environmental impacts)

This list is helping me consider things that I can switch up now (easy category), in the near future (hard category), and hopefully sometime ASAP but I’m not sure (seemingly unattainable category).

The hard and seemingly unattainable category exist for items that I cannot yet afford to purchase plastic free, or things that I can’t seem to find accessible alternatives to. They will probably shift around as alternatives become more available and cheaper. Hopefully each item will eventually become replaceable by a plastic free alternative.

I think it’s a good start, it lays everything out clearly and I can tick off items as I find solutions to them. I can also add more items as I think of them.

This is obviously very focused on plastics, but I am trying to cut down my general consumption of…stuff. Even recyclable materials are a problem when in excess.

Give this a try if you’re wanting to ditch new plastics too! Would love to see people’s lists on Instagram, DM or tag me @emily.harling

“Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats we face, yet it is also one of the easiest for individuals and businesses to act upon”

– Anderson Cooper

Bulletin Board Mockup

It seems as if we cannot live without plastic. Everywhere we go we see it, conveniently wrapping up, protecting products we all buy.

But at what cost is this convenience for the planet?

With plastic entering the ocean at 8 million tons every year and only an estimated (up to) 20% of plastic discarded being recycled. It’s time to prioritise plastic reduction.

One good thing about plastic is that many things that are made from it can last, if looked after. In my opinion if you need to buy plastic products at all it’s better to opt for something that can be reused (and hopefully not discarded) over a single-use item.

However the main focus should be reducing demand for new plastic production by avoiding buying new plastic whenever possible.

It also helps to hold companies accountable by calling them out on social media or signing petitions.

Screenshot of Instagram Story Pointless Plastic

When taking action on your awareness it doesn’t have to be something huge or complicated, just do something.

Taking Action

One of the aims of my work is to encourage people to move from awareness to action.

Most people already know that climate change is an issue, and many understand the severity of the environmental crisis. Awareness for these matters are at an all-time high.

But if you are aware that it is happening and you do nothing about it – that isn’t helping at all.

It’s easier then you think to turn your awareness into action. Think of an aspect of your life where you could improve your sustainability or lessen you consumption and begin to make changes to improve.

Some of the things I did to improve in 2019 were: purchasing a reusable water bottle, ditching single use makeup wipes and cotton pads, refusing plastic containers and opting for glass when possible (and reusing those glass containers), ditching cling film, purchasing a guppy bag for clothes washing (it catches micro plastic that would end up in the ocean otherwise), switching to refillable eco washing liquid, refusing fast fashion, reducing my general consumption of materials by questioning wether I really needed things, getting involved with environmental activism.

You’d be surprised how much money you could save with some life-style switches, and how easy it is to do some of these. They can bring you a sense of fulfilment, and encourage you to appreciate what you have already got rather then replacing things often.

I still have far to go to reach my personal goals. By the end of 2020 I aim to have completely stopped purchasing plastic packaged products, compost all organic waste and engage in more environmental activism.

Rubbish Up Close – Digital Drawing

JPEG Archive

Hello. I have made another page on here. A place to store every iteration of each digital drawing. They kind of show the process and I think they’re quite interesting. Click here to check it out if you like!

Also here is a new digital drawing I have been working on. Right up close and personal with the rubbish. Featuring mouldy food, spilled rice, packaging and plastic bags.

Amazon and ActimelDigital Drawing Complete Version