Research is an ongoing process of enquiry that helps navigate and develop the themes relevant to my practice. I use various settings that act both as subject matter and metaphor, these are briefly: natural form - the corporeal space and geographical space, contorted subterranean voids, contrasts of scale, sensory analysis and deprivation, conjectures of the primordial and early human ritual landscapes.
Physical explorations of the natural environment are an important element of my research.
Through journeying and recording I continue to create a library of lived experience field work that informs and inspires my practice. I am interested in both the sensorial experience of the natural environment and the cultural and social constructs that create the imagined landscape we experience.
An alternative to the critical-constructivist paradigm is found in phenomenological approaches that consider landscape to be a lived-in environment, a place where people experience the material world and are involved with it, both perceptually and bodily. The academic community has shown a growing interest in the everyday practices of human-landscape interaction and the ways in which they shape both the self and the landscape. From an earlier emphasis on the cultural construction of the environment, interest has shifted towards a phenomenological understanding of our engagement with landscape and of the corporeal nature of this involvement.
Feeling the Landscape: Six Psychological Studies into Landscape Experience. D. Karmanov, 2009. PhD thesis Wageningen University ISBN: 978-90-8585-303-9
The embodied and kinetic experience - movement and the spatial potency of the human as part of the landscape. We are both generators of space and makers of spatial change
Sensorial experience and sensory deprivation - analysing, developing and regaining sensual awareness of nature through touch, listening, balancing and smell.
The extension of the self into landscape and placemaking - a phenomenological approach
Memory and the temporal: Remembered fragments of temporal landscapes. The comfort, nostalgia and imagination of memory and remembering.
Environmental concerns - challenging assumptions, informing and counter balancing in a time of rapid environmental change
Seeking alternative ways of experiencing; through movement, sensing, historical and environmental knowledge, imagination and mythology, exploring to discover, revisit, study, circumnavigate, be in the night, the sun, rain, wind and fog, be social, or be alone.
Discovering and connecting through physical exploration - researching the environmental, human and geological minutiae of the natural environment. Creating a series of experiential art walks to take small groups into the natural environment.
Rock Grouping, Ann Rutherford, Charcoal on paper
Unlike Painting or novels, there is little opportunity to wander or turn away from the experience of landscape, spatially it is all enveloping and surrounds us, flooded with light and atmosphere. Irreducible the landscape controls our existence extensively, it permeates our memories and consciousness and enframes our daily lives.
Not only does landscape surround us but it does it in a limitless way.
James Corner, Representation and Landscape (1992; 146)
We do not necessarily see nature as having agency - a right to be just as it is - but as something there to enhance our own lives, or be mined, farmed, quarried etc. for our own use. In addition we seek to reconnect with a lost past where we believe we had an intuitive understanding of nature and we were part of that nature.
“It’s this way of being outside that I think we need to rediscover. Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking study Silent Spring indicated the troubling – even dangerous – consequences of individualistic attitudes to the world in which we all live. Carson thinks that this Romantic/lone male approach risks a profoundly ‘arrogant’ assumption that man can, or should, ‘control’ nature. In fact, ‘Mother Earth’ – to borrow a popular phrase that hints towards the gendered implications of this form of control – exists for herself, alone. But ‘She’ is not lonely. In fact, the natural world’s ecosystems depend on community; as Carson argues, human communities should see their responsibility as being to foster and safeguard natural ones that incorporate diverse species of plants, insects, animals and birds. To get there, we need to listen to alternative narratives about ‘nature’ and humanity’s relationships with the natural.”
What does it mean to be a woman outside? Jo Taylor, Kerri Andrews, Rachel Hewitt
Benighted, Ann Rutherford, pastel on paper