“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

What is throw-away society?

Google says: throw-away society is a human society strongly influenced by consumerism. Describing overconsumption and excessive production of short-lived goods.

Relying on fast cheap products has a devastating impact on our planet.

Bird’s eye view bin

How can we move away from throw-away society?

A “circular economy” approach would help save resources. This is an economic system that aims to eliminate waste and continual use of resources.

This means reusing, sharing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing and recycling to create a close-loop system. (All things we can put into place as individuals)

Creating a circular economy could minimise the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. For a sustainable infrastructure that benefits us and the planet.

Bulletin Boards

An informative art display on classroom like bulletin boards. I got to show these for a short time to a methodist church congregation in Huddersfield. From their feedback many people were worried about excess waste and it’s environmental impacts. They already had an awareness of the issues involved but were more shocked by the amounts we send to landfill.

Board 1

Board 1 featuring snapshots of waste in Leeds, informative posters and large scale image of landfill.

It was interesting to show snapshots of rubbish from Leeds in a smaller town venue because they picture a scene less common in Huddersfield. It highlighted the trend in increased population (and more built up areas), and increased waste.

Board 2

Board 2 shows a “Go Zero Waste” poster I made next to the 6 R’s (Rethink, Repair, Recycle, Reduce, Refuse, Reinvent). I think it allows views to not only be aware of what they can do to help, but to actually have the knowledge to take action. Board 2 also features two digital prints of my drawings of Leeds bins with rubbish piles. And fragmented icons and sections of urban space to tie it all together like a classroom display.

Go Zero Waste Poster

I put in a feedback sheet for views thoughts on the display, however not many people actually wrote on it. Most of the feedback was verbal, with people mainly in shock at the facts and disgusted at the snapshots of waste. There was a positive attitude towards the possibility of chaining habits and working towards a less wasteful society.

Girl Space

This year I had the chance to exhibit in a day festival celebrating and showcasing female creatives. It was a wonderful event and allowed me to show Rubbish in Hyde Park Book Club. A venue right in the middle of Leeds student area, where the subject matter of excessive waste is very common.

Hyde Park Book Club
Three Exhibiting Artists
Rubbish – A1 Digital Print on Acetate
Rubbish – A1 Digital Print on Acetate
Rubbish – A1 Digital Print on Acetate


The way I work always begins with a snapshot of something/somewhere. I will be creating a page for my snapshots in order to digitally archive them.

Leeds Bin Bag Snapshot – Heightened Saturation

Some of my snapshots, like this one, are like pieces themselves. At the moment they are pretty much all linked to rubbish, as I am working around throw-away society. I usually heighten the saturation of them to use the vibrant colours when digitally drawing over the top.

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