“WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING” – Paolo Freire and Myles Davis
Environmental art, ecology and community.
Art can expand out of the gallery and into other spaces, taking forms that engage with community and environment. As an artist I aim to explore, travel, learn, respond and create. The ‘field excursion’ is a very important part of my practice and takes the form of living life. The boundaries between art and life are blurred and through personal experience I find my inspiration. I have taken journeys such as El Camino across northern Spain – starting on bike from Scotland to reach Santiago on foot; my time in New Mexico on the Land Arts of the American West course exploring the south west through the lens of art, ecology and activism; and local explorations of the Scottish landscape.
Through my artistic practice, I explore our place within the natural environment and how food is our connection with earth and soil. Bread forms the base of our historical and contemporary diet all over the world, being present in our diet for at least the last six thousand years. The art of baking bread is becoming forgotten in modern society. As an act of empowerment, I can practice bread baking. Historically and culturally bread connects us with the soil – through the grains that we use, the water, the fire, the effort that we go to, the community with whom we bake and share, and the microscopic world of the microorganisms that make the bread bubble and sour. When taken out into the natural environment baking bread becomes strongly shaped by time, temperature, weather, terrain, light and fuel. I allow my work to direct its course and take me on a journey in an attempt to stay open and to learn. Through this learning process I hope to engage an audience with these journeys and actions and offer it as a potential space to contemplate and reimagine day-to-day life.
The journeys and experiences that form a large part of my work are equally distilled within objects. These objects are made to facilitate the journey that unfolds. Unlike the free nature of participatory art these objects are completely within my control but are allowed to find a new life in their use. The journey is further guided and changed through the participation of people. I facilitate, bringing together the ingredients, and much like with the process of baking bread, I allow it to enrich and grow at the hands of others. I have come to appreciate the value of collective knowledge that can empower through its sharing. My work is elemental: a focus on research, practical work, pedagogical explorations, form, journey, time and community. These solitary explorations are opened up to be a shared through the engagement of others. I seek to create physical change through these somewhat metaphorical journeys within art that I take. I believe in the importance of activating the artist beyond the gallery walls.