Last week in Paris, as the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay moved invaluable artworks away from the dangerous floodwaters of the River Seine, the link between art and the environment has never seemed more relevant.
Art throughout history has always been inspired by the natural world, but in the late 1960s artists began to not only depict the landscape, but engage within it. It was about creating awareness, stimulating dialogue, and making people see the world around them in a whole new light.
Today, this isn’t just about placing a beautiful sculpture in a beautiful setting, but creating something which interacts with, and highlights nature’s glory.
Here is a tiny snapshot of some of my favourite environmental, eco and land artists – and of course, some of their amazing work.
Using nature herself, artist Zander Olsen, has created this work ‘Tree Line’. It’s an on-going series where he wraps simple white material around tree trunks, following the horizon’s line.
US-based Amador is known for his creative, often complex designs in the sand; temporary pieces which disappear with the tide.
Other artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy and my new favourite; Anna Garforth, use what nature has given us and take it beyond its natural form.
Andy Goldsworthy is famous for creating works of art using leaves, grass, ice, pebbles, and the elements; ordinary things around us that we take for granted. He creates works of art that allow us to see nature in a brand new way – just like the artists of the 60s.
Anna Garforth’s work takes many forms. Sculptures of polar bears, highlighting their plight as the polar caps melt. Or regenerating urban landscapes using recycled materials, such as this piece below made from old Yellow Pages. She also creates incredible pieces made from moss, which she has gathered from around Hackney, or ‘grown’ herself. (See my DIY recipe at the end of this post).
Luke Jerram | Gerry Barry | Olga Ziemska
There are artists who take wind, water, air and the other elements as their medium. Luke Jerram’s sculptural sound chamber sings when the wind blows.
Gerry Barry uses water to create installations (or are they ‘out-stallations?), which harmonise with the landscape. So too does Andy Goldsworthy, who works with ice and nature, such as this tailored spiral of ice that wraps around a tree trunk.
And finally, looking down is also looking up in Olga Ziemksa’s pictured cloud reflection piece.
Many artists use trash as their treasure. In an earlier blog, I mentioned Malen Pierson
, an American Folk artist living in rural Utah. He takes unwanted pieces of farm machinery and recreates them into sculptures of horses, moose, and other animals to make the most of what has been discarded.
And sculptor Khalil Chishtee, uses plastic shopping bags to create ethereal, ghost-like creations.
I hope this has inspired or enlightened you to the movement that is Environmental Art, and you too will look at nature through new eyes. On the beach this summer, it’ll be more than just sandcastles that I’ll be making!
You can of course make your own Environmental Art, maybe taking inspiration from some of the artists I’ve shown you. By photographing your temporary arrangements, you can also make them permanent. Perhaps you’ll organise some leaves, or pressed flowers
, and arrange them into a picture frame. Or maybe make your own moss wall – speaking of which, here’s the recipe I promised...
How to: Create your own moss wall art
Actually, here are two recipes, plus a link for a third, but the techniques are the same...
1 part moss
1 part sugar
2 parts beer
Blend together, then paint or pour the mixture into the design you would like. Let it grow, and trim the moss if you want your design to have clean edges.
1 part plain active yoghurt
A handful of moss
1 part water
And the 3rd, you’ll find right here
One last thing, if you’d like to find out more about Environmental Art, here are some website links:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Environmental Art – please drop me a note below to let me know your thoughts.