'Leaves Sewn Together'
The aim of my work is to create an environmentally positive transient art piece that encourages a symbiotic relationship with, and appreciation of nature as a vital force and a source of beauty.
This work is entirely either recyclable or compostable. The leaves and cotton thread can be composted which, when fully broken down over time, can be used as fertilizer to help new plants grow and thrive. In this way, the work can be considered environmentally positive.
The transience of the work in this sense is symbiotic with the everchanging natural scene, from the clouds in the sky to the complex root systems of trees underground, they are constantly changing their form to create new masterpieces. If I were to keep the work constantly damp, it would continue to decompose on the frame, creating a slow motion display of the change in form and colour.
The idea was to create a pattern on the leaves with the cotton thread, but after sewing the leaves together it became apparent that this would take away from the leaves themselves. However by leaving just the stitching holding them together, and the stitching used to ‘repair’ tears and holes in the leaves, it showed the time put into fixing and assembling a piece of nature often dismissed as litter. Leaving parts of the work just for the thread further shows this. Hand stitching the work not only worked better due to the delicacy of the leaves, but the fact that hand stitching took a long time is relevant to the work as it shows a close relationship with the natural materials.
By the time the work is being recycled and composted, many of the materials will be on their third use. The frame was previously used to hold another artwork, made evident by its slight state of disrepair, it now holds this one, and will later be recycled to then be used again. The leaves existed as a source to create food for a tree, then as this artwork, and will later be compost used to aid the creation of new plant life.
Another significant part of the work is the time taken to create it, this work is hand sewn meaning I have spent hours of my time up close to the work, creating a sort of ‘bond’ with the piece. If I had sewn this using a sewing machine the work would lose some of its significance due to the lack of time spent on the work and the further disconnect due to the use of machinery over human hands.
One artist that has had a significant impact on my work is famous ‘land artist’ Richard Long. Long creates sculptures in natural settings out of found natural materials. These works are often temporary, left to shift and move out of existence by nature itself. This method of working makes Long and nature cocreators, just as in my work. A particularly impactful work of his is ‘A Line Made by Walking’ through which he left a line in a field by shifting the grass with his feet, the only evidence of this performance is a photograph of the work. Of The work itself no longer exists, it could of course be argued that the work does still in fact exist, just in a new form created by natures impact. Just as it can be argued that once composted, my work takes on a performance roll as an aid in growing new life.
One of my intentions for this work can be summarized by the quote, ‘An aesthetic affront demarcates human actions that cause some kind of aesthetic wrongdoing toward nature…’¹ (‘Aesthetic Regard for Nature in Environmental and Land Art’ by Emily Brady, page 1) It is important in my work not only to avoid moral affronts to nature, but aesthetic ones as well. Because of this it is important for the majority of my work to be visually completely natural, unedited materials, and for the parts of the work made by man to never assert themselves over them. This is why the threading is very sparse, and avoids covering the faces of the leaves. Despite this, some human interference with the natural state of the objects is necessary, not least so I can claim to have ‘made’ any art at all. On top of this I see myself as a facilitator through which to show the ‘art’ that nature has created. This means that the ways in which I interfere with the work, by gathering, arranging, and attaching the objects, I am encouraging a symbiotic relationship with nature. I use natural materials to showcase natures art, then return them again to natures domain to create yet more natural forms.