A solo exhibition by art.earth member Jane Eaton.
10 September – 22 October at The Town Hall, Trowbridge.
The majestic English Oak tree (Quercus Robur) that is so prolific and familiar within our landscape provided the catalyst for my exploration in seeking a more personal and significant, closer connection to nature. Often referred to as the ‘Tree of Life’ it is steeped in mythology and symbolism and has assumed the status of a national emblem. This iconic tree is often perceived as a meaningful metaphor from many perspectives in relation to human life. It can also be seen, in today’s world, as symbolic of the fragility of the natural world. Artists throughout history have recognised, celebrated and explored how trees and woodland shape our lives, physically and emotionally.
Trees provide one of the most ancient cross cultural, universally recognised symbols and throughout the UK oak trees are particularly renowned and revered. We acknowledge and give them names – The Major Oak, Bowthorpe Oak, Gog and Magog and of course our very own Big Belly Oak to be found in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire.
My childhood was one of freedom with my home and school situated on the edge of Epping Forest, this was my playground where I explored and connected both physically and creatively to nature on an intimate and somewhat unconscious level. Now living and working in Wiltshire the natural environment is abundant with oak trees in fields and forests. Throughout my life specific trees have provided powerful, evocative memories and connections to my past, anchoring me to a particular place.
Research has shown that nature contributes and boosts creativity and health. An interesting reference has been made by author Richard Louv who created the term “nature-deficit disorder” and consequently inspired an international movement to reintroduce children to nature. Louv argues “that connection to nature should be a human right”.
Today with the technological world of the 21st century virtual connections can be made to the natural world instantly. Access is at our fingertips with visual and theoretical information immediately available from the comfort of an armchair. To emphasise this point “It has been estimated that the average Western adult can recognise a 1000 brand names and logos, but less than 10 wild plants”. We live in a world where our children are spending less and less time outside.
My line of enquiry has been to explore different approaches to reconnecting to nature, to make work that forges enquiry, awareness and physical engagement with nature; to provide a more intimate and spiritual experience.
Three specific methods of making work evolved – monochrome ink drawings on paper, monoprints/monotypes and frottage.