I came across this scene of devastation in Stang Forest (good name) on the Durham/Yorkshire border. A large area of forest had been felled and cleared leaving a desolate landscape reminiscent of the shattered woodlands of WW1 battlefields. The huge machine that had been used to clear the debri was parked up on its transporter nearby.
One Thousandth Ghost Tree
To mark the finishing of the 1000th drawing for the One Thousand Ghost Trees installation for the Oriental Museum. Also on my worktop – Observing Orbits, a book of carpet pages, variations on birds eyes in the Observers Book of Birds (ink and collage), satisfying my latest obsession with collecting the patterns found inside envelopes and the ends off cardboard packets.
Hanging Earth’s Core
I hung the Earth’s Core drawings at the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences at Durham University last week. My approach has been to carry out my own research project mirroring that of the scientists which is why I have subtitled the series “Exploratory Drawings”. I now am thinking about how I will develop the next stage of these explorations, probably looking at botanical specimens and beetles.
Coming out of a Geography lesson one day I noticed a miniature river delta system under the walls of the school building, a perfect working model of the Nile, the Mississippi, the Irrawaddy, created by rain water pouring from a broken drainpipe onto a patch of bare earth. It is this distant memory that I have kept in mind whilst making this set of drawings.
It has been interesting for me to find out how scientists and engineers work together on a research project like ROBUST, testing theory against reality, sampling, experimenting and analysing. I have followed my own rambling research program experimenting with a traditional drawing material, exposing bars, bands and slabs of graphite to the natural forces of water erosion. I have encouraged water to make its own characteristic marks on the drawn landscape – washes, splashes, splatters, drips, dribbles, run-offs, percolations and granulations. The results are redolent of spoiled geological diagrams, of text books dropped into muddy puddles.
I have also been struck by Nature’s tremendous powers of recovery. On the site of the old lead works at St. Anthony’s on Tyneside is an overgrown wilderness of willow and birch and an undergrowth of nettles and thistles yet just under the surface lies one of the most poisonous soils in the country. Seeds germinate in toxic strata, weed colonies establish themselves on barren waste, saplings push their root systems through layers of rubble.
Many thanks to Karen, Steve and their team for all of their help and encouragement.