Rrecent work has been exploring ideas involving seeds and biodiversity, so the book I chose to take with me on this trip was Feral by George Monibot. I bought it after seeing Mike Perrys excellent exhibition Land/Sea at the Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno earlier in the Spring. It turned out to be a a good choice. Both Mike Perry and George Monbiot ask us to look more closely and question what we consider as wild natural landscapes. They refer to areas of the UK countryside as 'green desserts', and voice their concerns at the huge decline of wildlife and native plant species.
By stark contrast one of the most notable impressions arriving in Austria was the abundance of colour and variety of plants along paths and road side verges. Rather than the regimented 'parks bedding' which we are so use to in the UK, Austria seems to have a more relaxed approach by creating 'mini meadows' in their villages.
Bees, butterflies and a variety of insects provided a soft background hum during our walks. It seemed to be highlighting the points raised by Perry and Monibot. This became even more evident as we moved into the alpine meadows.
With the exception of trees, the plants seem to get smaller the higher you travel in the Alps. Carpets of small flowers cling to rock surfaces, determined to fill any crevice, and to seek shelter from wind. This really is life on the edge! When viewing the area on a summers day with blue skies and sunshine it seems a extreme action, but of course temperatures and conditions in mountain areas are constantly changing. Small and compact is how to survive in this environment.
It has been a rewarding and enriching visit to Austria. It will take time to reflect and process so many different sights and experiences. The landscape, while appearing familiar was also very different to the one I am familiar with. These photos are a "snap shot" of the experiences I wish to 'hold on" to, some of which may find their way into the art work.
But for now it is time to get back into the studio...!
Bookscapes is a group of six artists that have developed a group practice specialising in site specific interventions and exhibitions.