Studio Thinking Part 2 – looking from the past to the future

Studio Thinking part 2 – the 2nd November.

Interesting reading the words that I wrote three days ago. It’s very cathartic to write like that, so I’m going to continue a little bit longer. I left off having talked about panoramic photos, videos and photography and told myself I would write more about printmaking and drawing.

However, what has become clear to me, through making these notes, is that they are all the same thing. The artworks that I make are all about one subject and I use different mediums to help me understand it. What has changed during the last few years is that I began the first body of work using the river as a metaphor for life, energy and hope. Having hope is really important to everyone, especially in these difficult days. So, pre-pandemic, I gave my attention to the Severn and used it as a research tool. By working across a range of media, I can transfer marks that I find through one process into another. Such as manipulating the photographs in a certain way, then transferring those marks on to drawings or prints. And vice versa. I edit my videos to align with the style of my drawings, which then may be found in prints. And vice versa. I am currently drawing backdrops/scenes for films, but that is another story. I digress. That is for later.

During lockdown the river grounded me with its regularity. Tide in, tide out. It became mesmerising, meditative. Video was the ideal medium to capture subtle changes. While the world froze and closed down, the river continued unaffected. The more time I spent with it, the less time was spent watching the news, or sitting at a screen communicating with friends and family, or attending online talks, and funerals. The river was my window to the world. And it was beautiful to witness when the traffic had abated and the birdsong amplified.

The more I came to understand this tiny part of the world as we see it now, the more I wanted to know about its past. And then its future. Looking into flood projections, climate change impacts, I became increasingly aware that many parts of the landscape I was drawing and filming would soon be underwater. That cliffs and hills will become islands. 

In the news, XR were gaining traction, raising awareness. Personally, I dislike crowds, so I am not an activist or protestor. I found world news overwhelming, and UK news depressing, because I couldn’t bear seeing the divide between haves and have nots expanding so much. The right-wing world takeover was raging like a tsunami, devastating the welfare state and human rights.

I began to wonder what the landscape would look like in twenty years time. Unlikely to be in my lifetime, but will be in my children’s. And my grandchildren’s.

Returning to my position of hope, I set out to visualise this prospective landscape. Understandably, people are fearful of future flooding. Of the unknown, of change. Easier to ignore it. But we can’t, it will happen. 

This planet has a long long history. Tectonic plates shift, whole continents break up and change. Heatwaves cause drought and devastation by fire, extreme rainfall makes the sea levels rise, then flood. Our infrastructure is going to be affected. Why act as if it won’t? Or worse, think it won’t affect you and you can’t do anything to stop it? Short termism is a death knell to hope. 

I’ve just started reading The Good Ancestor by Roman Krznaric. It may have answers. Cathedral thinking, acorn planting, future thinking. 

When I look towards the changing landscape, it is not with sadness, but with curiosity. I wonder what humans will see here, in my village, in 20 years, 100 years, 2000 years. That takes a seriously BIG stretch of the imagination! I’m starting with baby-steps. I owe it to my grandchild/children. 

All of this reflection is contributing to a story. A book. A body of work.

Garden Cliff – Triassic landscape. (C) Carolyn Black

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

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