Environmental art with coloured plastic cord, Rosemorran

contemporary art in the environment - intervention in the landscape, St Ives, Cornwall

Coloured cord hanging from a tree, Rosemorran, Zennor, Cornwall. 2017

The simplicity of construction of this piece is important.

A lot of land art and other art in the environment strives to use only natural ingredients in the composition of the art. This work however consciously uses artificial material in the form of a length of brightly coloured plastic nylon cord.

The cord is draped over the branch of a tree and is pulled tight downwards to create two perfectly straight lines.
The work is meant to create slightly confused emotions in the observer. In the relative darkness of the woodland setting the cord stands out as a source of brightness. The two parallel lines are aesthetically pleasing amongst the shapes of the branches and leaves.
However, the cord is bright because it’s plastic, and the straight lines of the cord are a reference to humanity’s need to impose order on nature.
This work was created at the same time as most of the other paracord works on this site.

Dog poo bag discarded in art gallery

contemporary art - dog poop art

Dog poo bag discarded in art gallery. 2017. Mixed media

This is a piece of art that I created recently that’s inspired by frequent unpleasant encounters with dog poo bags while out on walks in the countryside.

On one walk along a popular track up a mountain in Wales last year the poop bags were so frequent that they inspired me to  conceive of the idea of a path lined with an avenue of poop bags.
I’ve created a work based on the concept here.

For the work in these photos it was a small step to move a single bag from the countryside to the art gallery. The question is, is it a real dog poo bag or not? All that I can say is that it’s described as being ‘mixed media’.

contemporary art - dog shit art

Environmental art – planet earth in a kitchen waste bin

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environmental art - earth in a rubbish bin sculpture
A work of environmental art in the form of a representation of the Earth in a kitchen waste bin.

From most angles (as in the image on the left, above) the bin looks like any conventional kitchen bin: however when viewed from the front (the image on the right, above) the inside of the bin gives the impression of being a dark void (due to the darkness of the bin liner). Visible in the void is a glowing representation of the earth, created as a back-lit image. The Earth seems to be suspended in the vastness of outer space, almost as if the bin was a portal to another dimension.
The work carries the message that the human race is treating the earth with contempt and that we are effectively placing the planet itself in the rubbish bin.
The work is a development of a concept that I had in about the year 2000, when I produced several drawings of the earth falling into a wastepaper basket. The sculptural potential of using a real rubbish bin to create an illusion of outer space is a more recent development.
The emotional impact of seeing the earth floating in the black void of space inside the bin refers to some extent to the iconic photographs of the earth as seen from space as photographed by the astronauts in the Apollo moon missions.

Work created January 2017, Cornwall.

A version of this work was shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2022.

Contemporary art and climate change – pollution

contemporary art and climate change - pollution and breathing equipment

Breathing on a polluted planet. Digital image. First version: 1991; this version: 2015

A work concerning climate change and pollution.
This work is created in a cartoon-like style. There are several reasons for this. One is that I create quite a lot of cartoons (which have been published in newspapers such as the Guardian and magazines such as Private Eye), and another is that I think that the cartoon style is a particularly good way of communicating about subjects such as global warming, pollution and the various crises that are currently afflicting our planet. One of the appeals of the cartoon art style is that it generally lacks ambiguity, so its message is clear and unmistakable, which is very important with subjects that are as important and clear-cut as climate change.
Other contemporary art styles on the other hand tend to thrive when they contain a degree of uncertainty in what is being said, requiring the viewer to interpret the work as they see fit. Contemporary art that puts forward a message unambiguously can often tend to come across as rather dead, didactic and hectoring.
Also of course, cartoon art, due to its nature, can easily be reproduced in print or electronically without loss of quality (both physical quality and emotional quality), thus making it available to a much wider audience than most contemporary art – which can only be a good thing when the work tackles an important subject as climate change.

contemporary art and climate change - pollution and breathing equipment

Fire Circle – art in the environment

contemporary art in the environment - fire circle

Fire Circle
Burnt vegetation. 2003

A fire made of green wood.
The wood at the centre of the fire has been consumed by the intense heat of the fire.
The wood at the edges of the fire remain unburnt, forming an almost perfect ring of twigs and small branches around the ash core.