The Dance of Nature
According to the Cambridge Dictionary ‘Nature’ is defined as,
‘All the animals, plants, rocks etc in the world and all the features, forces and processes that happen or exist independently from people, such as the weather, the sea, the mountains, the production of young animals or plants and growth’
Our culture has defined that humanity is not a part of nature, in fact the dictionary entry above specifically states that nature is independent of humanity. Should this not be redefined? Does the dictionary consider us simply separate from nature or above it? By culture separating humanity from nature, we are in danger of ignoring nature and not nurturing it because it is not a part of us or in our thoughts. If we don’t think about nature, we neglect it. For most people, this is not a deliberate act rather than it simply not being in our sphere of interest. Our ancestors were more conscious of nature and lived by the rhythms and cycles of the seasons. This was important to their survival; a bad harvest could mean starvation. As humanity relied upon nature for survival they respected it, it was conservation by necessity.
Unfortunately, humanity no longer feels that it needs to rely upon nature, we have circumvented the majority of nature’s rhythms by using pesticides to ensure more reliable harvests. We haven’t eliminated all of the threats that we face from nature, but technology and intense farming has enabled us to reduce the risks that humanity face from weather, pests and nature.
From the theory of evolution and primordial soup, we understand that everything on earth today has evolved from a mix of chemicals and minerals which developed from a single celled organism, the dawn of life. As everything in nature come from the same starting point, how is humanity not intrinsically a part of nature? Why as a culture do we see ourselves as apart or above nature?
Humanity needs to recognise that it is nature but as Chris Drury says to say we are a part of nature is not enough “nothing is added to our understanding by stating we are simply all part of nature (although there is a sense in which this cannot be denied)…” (page 12, “Chris Drury, Silent Spaces”, Introduction by Kay Syrad). Chris is alluding to our interaction and dynamic relationship with it. I like to interpret this as both our physical interaction with nature, as we walk through the landscape and feel the wind, smelling the rain, and getting earth under our nails as we harvest crops; but also, our fundamental beings are nature. Humans, consume, defecate, and ultimately decay transferring molecules and energy back to the ecosystem.
The cultural belief , that humanity is not a part of the natural world, needs to radically shift so that we begin to appreciate, respect and nurture nature. The environmental crisis that threatens both nature and humanity has been caused by our constant exploitation of natural resources. If we were a little more like our pre-Christian ancestors and observed the cycles of nature, then we may appreciate and try and preserve it a little more.
Some people play down climate change and claim that it is part of the natural rhythms and cycles of nature, and we need not worry, but that is because they are still thinking that humanity is apart from nature and above it. Humanity needs to realise that it is simply one small cog within nature’s wheel because then it will realise how vulnerable it is. Many species are endangered upon earth from Butterflies, Birds, Tigers to Panda’s; the majority of the time this is due to pressure on their habitat and food sources. Humanity’s alarming increase in population is also putting pressure upon their own food resources.
By humanity impacting the climate, we are more likely to see extreme weather which will also affect crops. We are a species like any other, and if we continue as we are, our actions will affect our population. The environment as we know it will change too, species will become extinct, but new ones will rise. The question is, will humanity as a species survive the next century? I firmly believe we can, but there needs to be a monumental shift in human philosophy that we have had for the last 2000 years. We need to realise, we are nature too, just as vulnerable as any other species from disease and famine. We all need to stop and think what we buy, consume and dispose of. Can we fix? Can we buy second hand? Can we change the way we travel? Can we change the way we garden? If we all made small changes, we would slowly begin to have an impact on the landscape around us.
Being an individual and trying to take on the monumental challenge of climate change is overwhelming. We can’t all rush out and buy an electric car for both economic and practical reasons, but maybe we could combine several trips into one. Businesses could focus on online meetings instead of face-face conferences. Covid caused the positive shift to working online and reducing the need to travel. However, I was very disappointed to hear recently from a Canadian resident that businesses in Alberta are encouraging the return to work 5 days a week and discouraging online working more and more. Thinking from the environmental point of view, I would have thought that businesses would do the reverse of this, as the country is so vast, and travelling so time consuming, by encouraging working from home is both environmentally friendly and increases a home life/work balance for those who want it.
Each of us have huge economical pressures on us, most of which are out of our control so that we cannot choose greener options because of the parameters that employers and governments impose upon us. This is why a shift in global philosophy needs to occur. Our focus should be one of appreciation of what is around us, and how nature is fundamental to our survival. We are currently lost in a world that focuses upon the bottom line and profit, but without raw materials (the majority of which come from nature) there won’t be any profit or bottom line. Humanity is not thinking long term, but rather on an annual basis. We are spending nature today, rather than saving it for tomorrow.
Changing a global mindset and philosophy is yet another monumental task, but I hope that if one person who reads this blog or see’s my artwork realises that humanity isn’t just nature but a tiny insignificant cog within it, and they then share that idea with others, we have the potential to start a revolution. And, just maybe, people will begin to care, and be more thoughtful of their daily actions towards nature, and hopefully then politicians will follow our example.
This is why I have created the series ‘Dance of Nature’. Each artwork within this series shows the human form intrinsically linked with nature around it, this includes flowers, trees, butterflies to name but a few. I have deliberately not shown the full human form in some cases, and instead show parts of bodies. This is because I don’t want anyone to identify with the artwork, I want it to challenge our view of humanity and nature. A hand, foot, or face has the same value as a flower or any other symbol within nature.
From the natural world’s point of view, we are all equal. That is why that in some of the artworks the human shapes are exaggerated or deliberately out of proportion or morphed into other shapes. Any full figures I have deliberately made androgenous. I hope you enjoy looking as some of the artworks below from ‘Dance of Nature’ and whilst you lose yourself in the colours and intertwining shapes, ponder about starting a philosophical revolution – We Are Nature. Share this blog, share the idea, talk about it, let’s get dictionaries to rewrite the definition of nature. Change our view, our understanding and save humanity and the environment at the same time.
To see the rest of this series please click here.
If you do share this blog, please use the following hashtags #WeAreNature #DanceOfNature and tag me
#ClaireHarrisonArt @ClaireHarrisonartist and let’s start a revolution together.