This piece “It’s Not F*cked” is a simple statement of my opinion that with a combined effort we can make a positive impact on the climate crisis. It is a response to anyone that doesn’t see the point in making an effort against environmental issues because “we’re already too far” gone or (as I often hear as an excuse), “we’re already fucked”.
It’s not Fucked is a sentiment that can also be reassuring in times like this pandemic. It’s a simple, playful reminder that we will get through it.
Is there an upside to the current pandemic situation? It seems that lockdown has its environmental benefits in the forms of cleaner rivers, bluer skies, plummeting drops in traffic and pollution levels etc.
“People need to realise that if we control and cut down boat traffic in Venice and its lagoon then we could all discover a unique biosphere.” A quote from Matteo Bisol who runs Venissa a restaurant on the tiny lagoon island of Mazzorb, he has been campaigning for a more eco-responsible, sustainable model of tourism in Venice.
Apparently the clearer waters in Venice are due to the lack of boats, so there is much less disruption on the muddy floor of the canal causing less sediment to rise up. The amount of tourism in Venice (and many other places in the world) is already showing the resilience of nature. It did not disappear, but with less human interruption it will come back and thrive in places where we are usually dominant.
With all of this in mind and the current reliance on science, I wonder…
Why aren’t we treating climate change like an infectious disease?
We are experiencing a pandemic, which means numerous countries on lockdown, experts all over the world working on covid-19. The majority of people are relying on scientists for solutions and guidance. But when it comes to climate change and environmental issues there are more mixed beliefs. People can be very sceptical of the facts around climate concerns, maybe because they often sound so doom and gloom. We need to listen to environmental experts and not be deterred by alarming information in order to make positive changes. We must not be put off by the scale of the issue and always strive to make sustainable choices.
This excerpt is from an article publish on March 5th 2020, shedding some light on how pollution impacts our health.
It is obvious why Coronavirus has to be treated with such urgency. But it is important to recognise that the climate breakdown also poses imminent danger, the effects of which are being felt in many countries already (wildfires, extreme weather, flooding…). The reason that many people disregard environmental issues is that they fail to make a connection between the cause and the consequences. People view the consequences of climate change as something that will happen in the far flung future.
To sum up:
‘Urgent action to prevent a pandemic is of course necessary and pressing. But the climate crisis represents a far graver and deadlier existential threat, and yet the same sense of urgency is absent. Coronavirus shows it can be done – but it needs determination and willpower, which, when it comes to the future of our planet, are desperately lacking.’ (From the above article, Jones, 2020)
Lockdown has caused me and many of my peers at art university to change our way of making. In this strange time we can’t access studio spaces or specialist workshops and in my case most of my materials, which were locked in at uni.
So we have had to adapt, making use of what we might have in the house, or can still get our hands on!
This for me has meant going miniature. My materials and space have decreased so naturally my work has too. I have been testing tiny diorama -esque displays of the area that I live in which is consumed by waste. The result is a quaint representation of urban Leeds, ironic being that the subject matter is throw-away society. I like how the toy-like appearance gets you to look closer, revealing the dirt, bins and litter.
I made my diorama out of a few bits I had managed to print at uni before the lockdown (they were only intended for sketchbook documentation) and parts of pictures from old magazines. Having to adapt to a new situation has been stressful and I often feel as if I am having to compromise on the quality of my work. But I have definitely become more resourceful in my practice and I am beginning to see the different work I am producing as a new approach rather then a compromise.
Some miniature inspiration:
Elgin Park is Michael Paul Smith’s dream-like reconstruction of a real place.
Chinese artist Zhang Xiangxi uses old television sets to create intricately sculpted rooms.
I recently came across @monstermailman on Instagram. The best inspiration for hyper realistic miniatures, often of everyday objects.
Christine McConnell is a master at crafts. Many of which are beautiful miniature creations, she has a YouTube channel and even her own Netflix show. I highly recommend looking her up to get you in the mood to make!
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.
“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‘.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.