Environmental contemporary art: Tree of Life

contemporary art environment tree of life

Environmental contemporary art: Tree of Life

Proposal for a mural. Image drawn: 2008

A proposal for a mural on a gallery wall based on a drawing of the Tree of Life that I created in 2008 as a pen and ink drawing.

The concept reflects my interest in environmental issues. I drew my first environmental images in the early 1970s.

The concept behind the image is that the Tree of Life, or perhaps more specifically the Tree of Evolution, has at the top of its highest branch a human being, signifying that within this concept the human being is the highest or most evolved form of life on the planet.

The concept is twisted however by the fact that in the image the human being, due to his elevated vantage point, can destroy the rest of life on earth as a direct result of his evolutionary position, with his highly evolved intelligence making him capable of designing and manufacturing guns). The Tree of Life becomes the Tree of Death.

Sunshine and Shadows (watch for at least twelve seconds).

Sunshine and Shadows

Video.  30 seconds, looped. May 2018

A video of the sun creating complex patterns on the ground.

The video was shot in the gardens of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, UK. The shadows are created by the branches of a pleached lime walk and the structure that is supporting it.

The video points to, amongst other things, the concept that the earth is connected to the sun in complex ways, with the sun creating the intricate patterns of life on earth (here portrayed by the complex patterns in the shadows of the branches). The fact that the pleached lime hedge is partly a work of artifice emphasises the link between the human race and the natural world (here portrayed by the shadows of the hedge’s supporting structure).

Environmental art – smoking globe

contemporary environmental art – earth on fire

Global warming art – Smoking Globe

Digital print. November 2023.

A smoking globe. Planet Earth suffering the consequences of climate change or global warming.

The globe in the image is resting on the ground rather than floating in space. It may be a giant sculpture of the earth smouldering as a result of climate change. It also has the appearance of being some sort of crashed or abandoned man-made structure, as though the earth is an artificial artefact, which in many ways it is, and that this is the reason for its stricken state.

The globe is resting on the ground in a very large field. In the background is a row of trees. These trees give a hint towards the existence of nature and the natural world, however on a second look it may be noticed that the trees themselves are in a perfectly straight line and are all the same age and species – they are in fact part of a completely man-made landscape.

This is one of my many works dealing with environmental issues such as climate change and global warming.

Environmental art – black flower sketch

contemporary environmental art – acrylic and watercolour black flower

Environmental art. Black flower sketch.

Acrylic and watercolour on paper. 2023.

An acrylic and watercolour painting of a black flower.
This painting is an example of my work relating to environmental issues, a subject with which I’ve been involved since the late 1960s. In this painting the flower’s petals are black, the flower’s stem is black, and the grass is black. The flower’s petals are shrivelled and misshapen and the stem is crooked. It’s an image of foreboding.
In contrast to all this blackness the centre of the flower is reflective gold. But it’s a dull gold, which may act to reinforce the bleakness of the black rather than creating a glimmer of brightness. It’s ambiguous.
The gold centre to the flower and the spiky petals give a hint of a dying sun or star, with the accompanying implications for life on earth (such as the flower). It’s a dying sunflower.

Environmental art – Earth in a Builder’s Skip II

Environmental art. The Earth in a builder’s skip

Video (1min 1sec). November 2023

A video camera moves towards a builder’s skip and travels through a hole in the tarpaulin that covers the skip to reveal the contents of the skip.

The contents are seen to be a view of outer space with planet Earth suspended or floating in it. The builder’s skip may be thought of as a portal to another dimension.

A meaning of the artwork is that the Earth has been reduced to the rubble and rubbish that is disposed of in builder’s skips or dumpsters, which are primarily designed to hold the debris and waste from construction projects and demolition projects. The work is a critique of our disposable consumer society and the environmental crisis that we are currently living through. In the area of London in which I live there are frequently builder’s skips positioned on the road in front of houses as the owners rip out perfectly good kitchens and replace them with new kitchens. It’s happening just a few doors away right now.

contemporary environmental art - planet earth in a builder's skip
A video still from the Earth in a Builder’s Skip video.

Environmental art – a builder’s skip containing the entire planet earth

Art about consumerism and the environmental crisis

Video (1min 6sec). November 2023

A video of a builder’s skip (or dumpster). The camera moves in towards the skip, travels up under the tarpaulin that covers the skip, and reveals the contents of the skip.

The contents are seen to be a view of outer space with planet Earth suspended or floating in it. The builder’s skip may be thought of as a portal to another dimension.

A meaning of the artwork is that the Earth has been reduced to the rubble and rubbish that is disposed of in builder’s skips or dumpsters, which are primarily designed to hold the debris and waste from construction projects and demolition projects. The work is a critique of our disposable consumer society and the environmental crisis that we are currently living through. In the area of London in which I live there are frequently builder’s skips positioned on the road in front of houses as the owners rip out perfectly good kitchens and replace them with new kitchens. It’s happening just a few doors away right now.

contemporary environmental art - planet earth in a builder's skip
A video still from the Earth in a Builder’s Skip video.

Snail

Contemporary art print - snail

Contemporary art print. Snail

Digital photograph. June 2018.

A contemporary art print of an old snail shell on the top of a cylindrical marble plinth. The snail shell has lost all of its colour due to its age and the amount of time that it had spent outside in the elements. It is now almost indistinguishable from the marble of the plinth on which it rests.

The photograph is taken from a small sculpture that I created from a snail shell found in my garden (It’s the shell of a common garden snail, cornu aspersum).

One of the things that I like about this piece is the fact that the old snail shell is incredibly fragile and light while the marble is hard and heavy, yet they both look remarkably similar on the surface. It is a piece partly concerned with the nature of superficial appearance. It’s also aesthetically pleasing, with all of those curved and rounded forms.

The fragile snail shell evokes feelings about the fragility of nature and the environment in the time of the ongoing environmental crisis.