ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Life recently has been tumultuous for most of us. Having two years of lockdowns has definitely not been easy! Missing friends and family and for some, losing loved ones has paid a heavy price. I think with 2022 there came a little optimism that for most of us that Covid was finally weakening and was less life threatening… we had survived a global pandemic! Just typing these words for me, feels very surreal; diseases that wiped out a significant proportion of the population was meant for the history books, not for the 21st century. I embarked on 2022 with a lightened and optimistic heart…
I was absolutely devastated when war broke out in Ukraine. I felt numb, after everything that happened over the past 2 years surely this was not happening? This was a time when humanity should pull together and celebrate what we had achieved in our survival. This was definitely not a time for senseless killing and I was filled with sadness. It wasn’t just the futility and needless loss of life that happens with any war, but the environmental impact made me angry too.
The pandemic made life tricky for all of us, and the safety of our loved ones around us took precedence. This was completely understandable, however in some areas our improvements to help the environment was reversed, for example the use of plastics and energy consumption. In other areas, reduced fuel consumption and less travelling helped wildlife expand and our impact upon the environment improved.
As so many were working from home, all homes needed to be heated and supplied with electricity rather than the concentration of people in offices. The use of single use of plastics increased dramatically due to the covid testing kits and other safety measures. Even as global powers increased their response to the environmental crisis, one country decided to declare war on another. I am no political analyst, but all I feel is that we have stepped back in time to 1930’s Europe. An innocent country has been invaded for what appears to be a personal crusade of Russia’s leader, causing tons of bombs and warfare to be used and the release of even more carbon into the environment. This war does not just affect the two countries directly involved, but the entire global population. It is not just the ammunitions but also the targeting of chemical pipelines within Ukraine which are now polluting farmland and rivers.
Before the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis hung in the balance. We were already beyond reversing the effects; we had left it too late. Instead, we were working towards slowing the effects down so that it didn’t get any worse (See the 2021 IPCC Report here). This was not going to be easy, but a herculean task. We needed to make radical changes and work together as one throughout the world to achieve this goal. I have yet to see the estimated impact this war will have on attempting to halt the increasing global temperature. It is not just species, animals and nature at risk, but humanity is potentially facing its own extinction.
It was with all this anger and sadness that I created this painting below. This is an oil painting and is not yet quite finished, as they take several months to complete. I feel that my frustration can be easily seen embedded in between trees that create architectural arches.
This painting started me in a new direction. I thought about how selfish the human race is for putting the whole of nature as we see it at risk, including ourselves. How different we are to our ancestors, who worshipped nature and were very respectful of it; sadly, ironic because with our intelligence and education we should know better. Not so long ago, the wrong weather at the wrong time of year could ruin a crop which would cause hardship for the local community.
We are a global community and have industrialised food production to meet the ever-growing demand, so that less people suffer, which our ancestors would be most envious of. Yet, we have lost balance with this method of production; the industrialised farming negatively impacts upon the surrounding landscape, we should be wise enough to look for an equilibrium.
This is highlighted by the war in Ukraine, centralising a large proportion of one crop in a specific area of the world means that the war is affecting the supply of wheat and cooking oil, causing food poverty and possibly in the future even famine. We need to start thinking about growing and consuming locally, thinking back to a time when the belief was that the green man maintained the constant cycle of life, of spring, rebirth and growth. To a time of mother nature looked over us and ensuring our crops survived. What would these ancient belief systems perceive of our reckless, selfish modern behaviour of excess and greed?
It was all these thoughts that inspired my latest watercolour collection, which I expand in more detail below each painting. I chose to use watercolours because of their ethereal, light translucent quality. The topics I want to convey are serious, but I don’t want them to be shown in a depressing way; I believe there is hope. There is enough of us who realise how serious this situation is, but we all need to pull together and address it before it is too late. This watercolour series show the integration of nature with architecture; architecture here symbolises humanity. The landscape and architecture are so intertwined within these paintings they have become one, because humanity is a part of nature, even if we do not recognise it. We are simply another species within the ecosystem, albeit a very successful and destructive one.
In these artworks, nature shows its superiority over humanity. The world will survive the climate crisis, nature as we currently know it may change, but it will survive. We need to reduce the impacts of global warming for our own species survival, and to have any chance, we need to act NOW.
You will see amongst some of these watercolours little hidden faces; these are there to remind us of our past beliefs of Mother Nature and the Green Man. We need to learn from our ancestors, to glorify nature, appreciate, and not harm it. We all need to live in harmony with the landscape around us, for our survival. These brightly coloured watercolours are of hope, realisation and a reminder of humanity’s history.
By creating these optimistic watercolours, I escape from current events into nature, because it is overwhelming, deeply upsetting and sad. How can a fellow human have such disregard for life and the environment around them? By escaping into nature, I find hidden gems that are still there and marvel at a tiny flower poking up in between the grass. We cannot hide from world events, but a few deep breaths and 30 minutes of looking at the nature that continues against all odds is comforting. Whether it be looking through a window, taking a walk in a woodland or simply immersing yourself with a painting on the wall, it allows us to rebalance and move forward to face what today may bring.
This is the purpose of my watercolour series, the environment is in danger, but here is a little hope with the bright swirling ethereal colours to allow you to escape the madness just for a few moments as you lose yourself in the glory of nature.