I was delighted to be part of the third Turn the Page, Artist Book Fair in Norwich this weekend. There were two themes running through the work I presented at this years event - firstly my interest in Earths history as seen through the landscape,in particular the fossil record, and secondly a series of small pieces which relate to Rachel Carson's classic book Silent Spring.
It has been a thoroughly enjoyable two days with an opportunity to show work, meet old acquaintances and make new friends. The warm welcome from the event organisers and visitors helped to counterbalance the decidedly chilly wind which had us drinking far too much coffee in an attempt to keep warm. (we were very close to the doors!) It was all the more enjoyable as so many visitors took time to engage in conversations about the work.
Earths Story is my response to a quote by Erasmus Darwin ((1767) in which Darwin describes his experience of entering the caverns in Derbyshire. He says
"I have been into the Bowels of Old Mother Earth,
and seen wonders and learnt much curious knowledge
in the Regions of Darkness"
The book consists of richly painted pages suggesting layers of the earths surface. Calligraphy papers have been chosen for their fragile tissue like quality which allows the pages to rustle as they are turned. Saturated with inks, the resulting marks create an array of shapes hinting at forgotten and buried forms. Here and there traces of identifiable objects can be discovered. The viewer is invited to take a journey through time.
Revisiting Silent Spring
This month sees the fiftieth anniversary of Rachel Carson's death and the publication of Silent Spring. Carson combined meticulous research with luminous prose to create the most important and influential environmental book of the 20th century. Carson brought attention to the detrimental impact of wide spread and indiscriminate spraying of chemicals such as DDT.
When first published it was met with fierce opposition by agricultural organizations who mounted a campaign to discredit her work. Rereading the book, her words are as fresh and relevant today as when first published in the early 1960's. Rachel Carson is now credited as having been the inspiration for the environmental movement. Sadly she died from cancer a year after publication.
" Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts".
Field Notes - The Reports 0f Seasoned Observers
This series of work uses Rachel Carson words and has developed from conversations I've had with the curators in my local Museum. I was informed of the difficulties the Museum now have regarding their old collections of birds eggs Times have changed and what was once considered acceptable is no longer, and the issue of egg collections is bound in controversy.
Public attitudes have moved on, and we now live in an age where environmental issues, rightfully are rarely off the agenda. It is now illegal to remove or possess wild birds eggs.
In Field Notes, Carson's own words are used to highlight aspects of her concerns. I have used freely available "over the counter" egg shells to create "empty vessels". They have been made to give the impression of being fossils. Text from Silent Spring is incorporated into the pieces inviting the viewer to reconsider and hopefully question these concerns. The shells are "cast in stone" preserved, a reminder of loss and the consequences of not paying attention.