“In August 2019, I got to spend a few days on the Isle of May. The island is a National Nature Reserve in the Firth of Forth and houses around 200,000 seabirds during the spring and summer months. On the Isle of May, the effects of a changing climate and the adjustment of organisms to this can be directly seen in the change in seabird populations from year to year. This visit made the absolute power of nature clear to me. Through this course, I realised the need for this type of local nature preservation, to enable others to experience this. It also became clearer to me how important researching seabird populations is as these can be markers for broader changes in the environment around them.
In my asset I wanted to respond to the interconnective nature of ecosystems, where many small building blocks work in unison. In my art course my practice has over the last year used stencils and solid forms to create abstracted work with interaction at its focus.
Because I base my work on materials first, I found trying to respond to the themes of the course through an asset quite difficult. Since I try to work in a sustainable and impermanent manner, I considered materials first. The options of recycled paper are quite limited in the UK, so I decided to make my own. I soaked and pureed misprinted paper, booked a workspace in the ECA, and used two frames and a cut up mosquito net to sieve through a paper pulp and water mix, and ended up with 48 sheets of paper.
Following Impressionism, artists approached making abstract art through symbolism, whereby objects of symbolic value are continuously reduced. I tried to emulate this in my approach. I started of f with a few photos I had taken on the Isle of May in 2019 and tried both digitally and through watercolour paintings to reduce these.
When working on my second version of the young Herring Gull watercolour, I noticed that a leaf- or wing-like form seemed to emerge. I then isolated this. Seeing in this shape one that could be used as a stencil or template, I then used it to create two mirroring lino cuts.
I then used white printing medium to print freeform birds onto the paper, layering the shapes onto each other to create different forms. I think this layering represents the different aspects of the systems that must be protected and responded to for the perseverance of our earth. I enjoy the textures that emerged on the page through the paper’s homemade nature. The unfinished paper gives the project a bit of a rugged appearance, reminiscent of the harsh winds on the Isle of May. I think like a lot of art this piece requires some background knowledge to be fully understood, but I believe it communicates a joy of and hope for nature. ”
Undergraduate, Year 2