Art in the environment, Cornwall

art in the environment - abstract sculpture Cornwall


Wood and acrylic paint. Land art on Zennor Hill, near St Ives, Cornwall. 25th June 2018

Land art sculpture composed of lengths of painted wood battens (the type of wood commonly used in building construction).
The sculpture was created by positioning a small number of battens in the landscape, photographing them, repositioning them, rephotographing them and then merging the photographs.
As a result the work has an interesting relationship with time. The sculpture never existed in its entirety as depicted in the photograph, each batten only being in position for long enough to take a photograph. The sculpture only takes on its final form when the twenty-five minutes that it took to position and photograph the battens are compressed into a single instant.

A work of transient land art near St Ives,Cornwall: an intervention in the landscape, or art in the environment. The wood battens are about a metre long.

Buttercup field with hidden object

Buttercup Field, Rosemorran, Zennor

Video. 27sec

A video of a field of buttercups that contains a hard-to-see object near the centre-left.
The object is revealed at the end of the video.
The video is on a recurring theme in my work – an investigation into perception, reality and illusion.
The video was taken behind my house at Lower Rosemorran, Zennor, in Cornwall.

Spoiler alert – the nature of the object in the video is revealed in the next section.
The scene in the video contains, on the ground amongst the grass and buttercups, a square mirror. The mirror is hard to see partly because of the distracting proliferation of buttercups, but mostly because the mirror is positioned so that the light from the sky doesn’t create give-away shadows or highlights (buttercups that are reflected in the mirror can look abnormally lit compared with the rest of the buttercups if the angle of the light is incorrect).

Below is a photograph of the wider field in which the work took place.

contemporary art video mirror perception illusion

The work is filmed in an almost cliched, very peaceful and calming field full of spring flowers, which to me makes a nice setting for a work that at its most pretentious can be interpreted as being a prompt for questioning the nature of reality. At its least pretentious however, it’s just a nice visual joke.
Mirrors and reflections are common features of my work, as can be seen in the Mirror Art section of this site.

Study for Black Square Floating in the Environment

Floating Black Square

Video. 36sec

A black square floating in a clearing among bushes in the environment (near St Ives, Cornwall). The black square looks gray in the video due to the light.
The video is an early study to assess the potential for the concept.
Finished works based on the concept would consist of squares suspended in the environment in positions where members of the public would encounter them, such as along pathways in parks. The locations of the squares could vary from trackside positions that are below eye level, at eye level and above eye level, where the squares would be seen to move relative to the landscape as the observer walked past. Squares could also be positioned high in the air, sometimes directly above the track, so that they are constantly silhouetted against the sky.

The square in the video, which seems to be floating in the air unaided, is of deliberately uncertain substance or nature. What is certain is that due to its shape, its colour and its position suspended in the air, the square is not a natural part of the environment.
The squares in future iterations of the work may be coated with a very non-reflective black (see image below) so that the floating squares could almost be mistaken for black portals out of the universe and into a featureless void.

Art in the environment - floating black square in landscape
A video still showing a floating black square that may be interpreted as a “hole in reality”

Art in the Environment, Cornwall

contemporary art in the environment, intervention in the landscape or land art, St Ives, Cornwall

Art in the environment

Coloured cord on a granite boulder, Zennor, Cornwall. 2017

I’ve been producing art dealing with environmental concerns since the 1970s.

The simplicity of construction of this piece is important. The observer will hopefully notice the almost total lack of endeavour required to create the work, while also noticing the (hopefully) relatively high aesthetic payoff as a result of that endeavour.

A lot of land art and other art in the environment strive to use only natural ingredients in the composition of the art, good examples being the work of Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. This work however consciously uses artificial material in the form of nylon paracord.

In the work the placing of brightly coloured plastic into the environment refers partly to humanity’s imposition of artificiality onto the natural world. This is partly a message about the despoiling of the environment by our endeavours. The fact that the nylon cord has been simply laid on the boulder (which took the effort of a whole three minutes) helps to reinforce this message, as the cord acquires qualities associated with the detritus of our instant gratification throw-away consumer culture. The fact that the cord is plastic reinforces this further.  However, the brightly coloured plastic actually looks quite pleasing on the rock, so the work is also saying that humanity’s imposition of artificiality onto the environment may have a positive side to it, at least to us (but also that just because something looks nice doesn’t necessarily mean that it is).

In fact, where would we be without the artificiality that we impose on the environment? Hence some of the ambiguity in this piece.

The rock is on low heathland behind my house at Rosemorran, Zennor, near St Ives, Cornwall.

Horizon Line – a cord stretched along the horizon. Land art or sea art

Contemporary art  - intervention in the landscape, Cornwall

Horizontal Line

Unmanipulated photograph. Cord stretched along the horizon: Zennor, Cornwall, UK
Plastic cord, landscape. September 2017

A photograph of a length of brightly coloured plastic cord stretched horizontally so that it coincides exactly with the horizon.
This is an unmanipulated photograph.
The work is partly about the all pervasive presence of plastic in our lives and the environment, with the piece of plastic cord seemingly stretching all the way along the horizon. The fact that the line of the cord is along the horizon created by the sea links the cord with the plastic pollution that is present in vast quantities in the oceans.
As well being a metaphor for the plastic pollution in the oceans, the cord also signifies that plastic is in many ways a very useful and pleasing substance (without which our modern world wouldn’t be able to function). This is indicated by the fact that the cord creates a very pleasing aesthetic effect. The major problem with plastics is the complex molecular structures that are created during the creation of the plastic that mean that they decompose very slowly. If this problem is solved the plastic problem will be greatly reduced (although of course it will still be a problem, along with all of the other problems based on consumerism that we are inflicting on the planet).

The work also exists at a purely aesthetic level, with an appeal generated solely through the juxtaposition of the horizon and the plastic cord.

The work was created overlooking Zennor, Cornwall, UK.

Land art in the environment, Cornwall - plastic cord stretched along the horizon
A detail of the photograph to show the church.

Environmental art with coloured plastic cord, Cornwall

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

Art in the environment, Cornwall.

Fluorescent coloured cord, tree. 2017

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 fluorescent plastic nylon cord.

The simplicity of construction of this piece is important. The cord is draped over the branch of a tree and is pulled tight downwards to create two perfectly straight, vertical, parallel lines.
The work is meant to create slightly confused emotions in the observer. In the relative darkness of its woodland setting the cord stands out as a source of brightness, and the two parallel lines are aesthetically pleasing amongst the twisted shapes of the branches and the leaves.
However, the cord is bright because it’s unnatural fluorescent plastic, and the parallel straight lines of the cord are similrly unnatural and are partly 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.