Is there a Final Frontier?

As I have been thinking about my work, reading various books to help open up this thought process, and try to come to some understanding of what it is I am doing. I have been struck by the idea of boundaries: do they exist, is there a final frontier, or just a perceived boundary to be pushed or torn down? Perhaps they only exist as we invent, map, build and maintain them in a physical form, a mental form, or a drawn form. How do boundaries impact on my work?
Everything I do as an artist seems to have a boundary: the paper I draw on, the photographs I take, all have edges which create a boundary. To which I am also imposing aesthetic and compositional boundaries. Yet the place I am trying to capture and represent has no boundaries. In Tim Collins’ essay in Artful Ecologies he states “the contemplation of nature is viewed as a space and place question devoid of boundaries or frames”. ( pg 28)
Are there any actual boundaries in the landscape? You could say that my edgeland is bordered by the sea and the motorway, but is either a boundary, or is it just part of the ongoing unfolding landscape? In the spirit of deconstruction, I am questioning what landscape art is or can be and I am pushing the boundaries of landscape art further and wider to explore the potential mark making abilities of the natural forces within my chosen landscape and to encompass the area of environmental art.
How am I doing this?
The poet and ecologist Gary Snyder said “first find where you belong… then dig in” pg83 F. David, Peat essay, Artful Ecologies.
I have found where I belong, Broadmarsh Nature Reserve, a grotty edgeland in Havant; at first sight a very uninspiring corner of the landscape but now I am ‘digging in’ to my specially selected area.
“Thoreau said; “the whole world can be revealed in our backyard, but only if you give it proper attention” pg81 Stacy levy, essay, Artful Ecologies.
I am under taking this ‘proper attention’ in more than one traditional manner. The first being the way one under takes romantic landscape art by following the advice of William Gillpin and developing a ‘correct knowledge of objects’ by regular sketching and observational visits to the area, trying to understand weather reports and tide charts, delving into the history of the area, studying the flora and fauna and just being there soaking up the wind and rain becoming coved in mud, breathing in the smells and listening to the sounds, immersing myself in my chosen environment. This could take years as I find something new or different every time I go. The second is the practice of drawing: I am drawing the natural world from nature, which also includes the practice of life drawing (the body being a part of nature) as this develops my ability to see and begin to know my surroundings. If “fundamentally drawing is the most spiritual of all visual artistic activities”, as suggested by Kandinsky and Rawson, (pg32 Writing on Drawing) then this also links my current work to that of the romantic landscape artists, such as Caspar David Friedrich, who were out in the landscape looking for God through painted moments of transcendence. I am not in the real world when I am working on the beach, gathering the various elements of my research; I do feel a connection with something greater than myself.


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