Place is security, space is freedom: we are attached to one and long for the other.
Space and Place, The Perspective of Experience, Yi-Fu Tuan
I interrogate the relationship between humans and the natural environment. I make journeys, explorations and undertake physical activities, creating images of experience, often large scale and immersive. Since suffering a hearing disability, a deep interest in the experience of sound has appeared in my work. I utilise workshops, exploratory walks, printmaking, drawing, sound and photography to interact with the public and record the natural world.
Exhibition, 2019, Into The Hills, Mill Bridge Gallery, Skipton
The nature of experience in the natural environment has been a factor of my work for years, but having had a break in producing art, I find that the theme returns stronger than before. My practice is about a discovery of motives, an encouragement to inspire dialogues, especially relevant now in this era of accelerating environmental change. I make work that invites intersubjective exchange with the viewer. An artists view encompassing the past, present and future in the landscape. The audience remains important to the reason for making the work.
Into The Hills (see exhibitions page for more detail) launched me back into creating new work for exhibition. The room the work was to be placed in was a domestic, wooden paneled, room in one of the oldest houses in Skipton. I wrapped the C 16th walls of the room with an ancient landscape of rock bearing the mysterious weathering marks of ageing millstone grit sandstone. The room became a metaphor for the internal / external intercourse of the mind. Loosely based on rocks at a local beauty spot the result was space as a theatre of rock formations, a stage for the presence of man in nature. I imagined the journey taken to reach this place; an uphill struggle to a summit with grand views. Here the audience is invited to rest before passing on. A continuous passage of feet through the the summit, further wearing the stone down, each contributing in a miniscule way to the cycle of formation of rock on this planet. Time, change and scale acting silently with us as we pass.
For this project I revisit the cave environment this time with a personal focus on the sensorial aspects of the spaces within the cave, viewed through the experience of loss of hearing and the balance mechanisms on the right side of my body.
Subterranean Form, charcoal on paper, Ann Rutherford
Anthropomorphic calcite formations abound in caves. The dimpled and mottled surface shaped into wavelets, the reflective properties of water encapsulated into the walls we brush past with our bodies. Skin to skin. The hanging form full of weight and dripping water, shaped like muscles and tendons, a body stripped bare. Internal passages denote shifting, sliding wet ground.
Labyrinth is a recreation of a subterranean world, an internal labyrinth, under the earth and in the body, echoing and vibrating, descending through liquid and contorted space. The cave as a series of corporeal cavities, a journey of sensory experience through dark passages, chokes, vestibules and altering scales. The labyrinth of the inner ear is revealed as a series of twisted chambers with the sensitivity of a vibrating surface in a hollow rift.
Cave explorations with sound (headphones advised or turn the sound right up)
Derigging Long Churn
This is the sound of the derigging of the handline from the rift above the Cheese Press. The recording device is 15 metres away from the site of the sound. This demonstrates the distance and clarity with which sound travels underground.
Diccan Pot Water Course
Recorded in Lower Long Churn, this is the distant sound of the force of water surging through Diccan Pot. Diccan links with Lower Long Churn through a tube like passage. This adjacent pot now carries the main water course. Headphones are advised.
Other projects ongoing, but delayed:
Fire and Stone (The Folly Settle)
A series of drawn studies of the quarries around Settle and the men who worked in them. Their craft still visible today in the impressive fireplaces of The Folly, Settle. Exhibition programmed for July 2021.
Over the Moss
This collaborative project has been seed funded by Craven District Council and Settle Stories as part of the Feast artists network, of which we are both a part. We will each create a piece of work or part of a work that is then exchanged with the other, to respond to and be inspired by. The work will be centred on the destructive erosion of the peat bog by the managers of large areas of moorland in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The blanket bog is an incredible carbon sink and defence against flooding in the valleys below, as well as an important wildlife habitat. It is also an important feature of the uplands in the area of Craven where Sarah and I are based.
The bog has been eroded by sheep grazing , drainage and burning of the heather for the maintenance of the grouse stocks for hunting. Only recently has erosion of the peat bog become a matter of public importance as the effects of climate change become ever more pervasive.
Sound recordings have been taken of the wildlife activity in the bog, as part of the research work; these may also be part of the final exhibition, which will be hosted by the Dales Countryside Museum in 2022.