|07/09/2021 hot one|
Friday 17th September 2021
Hello and welcome to SAP. I’m Sam Pickett and I’ll be using this blog to share news, thoughts and images about the project Saturation Point plus all things related to art, the climate crisis and the local landscape. I look forward to your contributions!
In terms of the project, I’ve been trying to develop SAP on and off for about a year, the idea forming shortly after I moved to the village of Over Kellet in the North-North of Lancashire in 2020 - in the middle of a nationwide lockdown with the prospect of a long, isolated winter stretching out in front of me. And so it began as I explored the footpaths leading away from my house and out into the fields as I always do, discovering the wild spaces where wild flowers grow in abundance but also noticing the pockets of land fenced off and designated for new housing or extended caravan parks. Set on a hill above Carnforth with views over Morecambe Bay to the West, the Cumbrian Fells to the North and surrounded by open countryside the village is an attractive prospect for developers. My art practice is concerned with the anthropocene and the duality between the natural world and culture so I began to think of ways to record the environmental changes and raise awareness of the importance of wild spaces for biodiversity. As ideas shifted and evolved, the outline for a longer term, investigative project began to take shape. I applied for arts council funding and after some restructuring I was excited to learn that my application had been successful.
And so Saturation Point is happening. January 2022 marks the beginning of an eighteen month exploration of the wild spaces in and around the Carnforth area. My studio is situated on Cockle Hill and will be the project’s base for natural dye-making, much tea making, view staring and open-day visits.
|I am here|
On Friday evening I gave a presentation about the project to the local Horticultural Society at the OK village hall. I was accompanied by Dr.Martin Lord, an environmental scientist with a background in meteorology who also happens to live in Over Kellet. His weather records (dating back over twenty years) will provide the data that’s reflected in the final textile artwork and his understanding of our changing climate is crucial to the projects scientific value. I’m incredibly grateful that he’s offered both his time and expertise to support the project.
Anyway, this was my third presentation relating to Saturation Point and each time I’ve found it a bit easier - I’m not a natural public speaker but I have things I want to share that I believe are important - about art, the climate crisis, our environment and well-being and so from time to time I find myself facing an audience of expectant faces (27 on this occasion).
|17/09/2021 OK village hall|
I’ll tell you more about the details of the project in a later post but for now I wanted to write about the talk because it raised some interesting points that are still fresh in my mind. Someone asked me after the talk ‘what did the artwork have to do with the changing weather and scientific data?’
Well, that’s a good question and one I tried to answer on the night… here’s my response (reinforced by Martin) plus some extra thoughts added with the benefit of hindsight:
A large proportion of the art world has understood for a long time that capitalism and our throwaway consumerist culture is untenable; I had no idea growing up in the seventies and eighties that artists like Agnes Dene, Ana Mendieta, Robert Smithson, Li Yuan Chia, Andy Goldsworthy (I know there are many, many more these are just some names that sprang immediately to mind) and writers/philosophers like William Burroughs, Thomas Berry, Henry Thoreau even Ruskin etc were saying something urgent about the earth, the injustices, the decline of species, the damage the west was causing to natural ecosystems fifty, a hundred, even two hundred years ago when the more negative impacts of the industrial revolution were slowly starting to materialise. There were warning lights flashing everywhere once I cared to look…So as my own art practice evolved over the last ten years I too became aware of
* the need to challenge cultural myths dressed up as traditions
* a desire to encourage others to reconnect with the environment
* the importance of working and living sustainably
* how art and creativity can provide a space to talk, to share anxieties and inspire resilience within communities
* how the arts and sciences combined thinking can generate unique solutions to contemporary problems.
So what does climate data have to do with a textile artwork? Well, visually the final piece will reflect the data as a colour-coded graph, patterns emerging that demonstrate the changing nature of our weather in the North-West. The artwork and accompanying film essay will be shown at art and climate events and the documented plant species will provide a record for future comparison. The fugitive colours will evoke the palette of the landscape, the ephemeral vibrancy acting as a metaphor for disappearance… maybe even the climatic conditions will affect the tonal outcome I don’t know, so I shall also try to establish if a dry or a wet year produces differing tones.
The natural dyes and textile artwork are just one element of the project. I will also be organising a series of foraging walks and talks. Encouraging participants to engage with the natural world, notice what’s growing in the wild spaces and recording what we find.
And I was also asked ‘isn’t all art visual?’ Well art is experiential, it can be a familiar intangible feeling or a sensation - like the touch of soft dough or the smell of damp moss. It can be the sound of a bell ringing in deep woodland or a dog barking on a hot day (I’ve experienced all of these at art installations.) Art can be a thing but it doesn’t have to be. It can be anything. It can be nothing; a hole, the space between things, a dot. Li Yuan Chia said ‘a tiny dot can mean all or nothing.’ This is a big subject but what I’m trying to say is - there are many ways to interpret something - close up, from a distance, upside down, through a tiny crack in your hand, from over there, intuitively or mindfully. Good art invites us to look, listen, touch or think again, from all sides and inside out until we find something we just might have missed within the data.
|Photo credit: Martin Lord|
What a fabulous read ...so dramatic in it's words...the info that you are about to do will i am sure ...help people understand more in your art ...ReplyDelete
Thank you Lilly!Delete
How interesting! I'm hoping we'll see some of the images / themes you presented at the talk in the next few posts... And loved the questions from the audience - I think as artists we understand (or at least subconsciously 'get') the connection and links between art and climate change but are often guilty of assuming everybody else does too.ReplyDelete
Lovely, engaging read Sam, and what a fantastic project! Everything is related, the macro is the micro xReplyDelete
oh jealous of that title ... 'saturation point' speaks of colour, culture, absorption and over-spill. Research presented through a textile piece seems most fitting for Lancashire with its history of industrialised mills.ReplyDelete
Admire your answer to the dreaded questions around whether something is art ... as artists we're often expected to defend, explain and understand all forms of art (like asking a dentist to explain quantum mechanics, or an archaeologist to perform open-heart surgery! It's all science but it's all different)
Working with scientific data is vital as scientists aren't always the best communicators. Artists bring curiosity, new ways of thinking, feeling and all the stuff that makes a life worth living.
Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.
Thank you camostudio - so thought full 💚Delete
Wow Sam, I would love to hear about this as it progresses, to follow your journey and to walk and talk some of the winding ways.ReplyDelete
Congratulations for getting the funding too!
Thank you Jeni I hope you can join me!Delete