Ah well, summer’s over. But it’s the First Friday in September and we gather once again at 13.00 BST/UTC+1., This month our guest artists are Evgenia Emets and Yan Wang Preston.
First Fridays are our regular gathering for anyone interested in art and the world around us. It’s not just for artists – anyone can come and anyone can participate. We are still, on current plans, gathering on Zoom with plans to add a face-to-face venue still on hold.
Evgenia Emets – Say My Name and I Will Tell You My Story
Evgenia Emets is an artist, a poet and a filmmaker working with forests, ecology, biodiversity and community through her visual works, poetry, installation, performance, film, artist’s books and large scale ecological artworks.
In the project Say My Name and I Will Tell You My Story, developed in collaboration with Ines Valle, the Cera Project, which is focused on the Eucalyptus tree, her artistic work has been done in a very intuitive way with the natural materials the trees offer – Eucalyptus leaves and bark and printing directly on fabric. Through this the Eucalyptus trees, or gum trees as they are called in Australia, gain voice and express their messages, they open a possibility for us to ask them questions, collaborate with them and tell an alternative story that is emerging.
The project opens a holistic perspective on the eucalyptus trees, which exist in abundance in Portugal, because of widespread use of these trees in monoculture plantations for paper production, and a series of controversial socio-cultural relationships that have been created over the years. Looking at a possibility of embracing their presence and their purpose in Portugal in a wider cultural sense, while integrating newly emerging wisdom from research, science and traditional aboriginal knowledge in Australia, where the trees are native.
Video about exhibition and project: https://youtu.be/XUPzOzTSGZM
[main image: Egenia Emets ‘Say My Name’ exhibition]
Yan Wang Preston – With Love. From an invader.
Dr Yan Wang Preston is a visual artist interested in landscapes, identity and migration. Her primary media is photography, although her work is often conceptual-based and process-driven, marked with a commitment to embed herself within a large expanse of space or time.
For the First Friday talk, Preston will review her recent work ‘With Love. From an Invader.’ From 17 March 2020 to 16 March 2021, Preston walked to a single rhododendron bush in her local area every other day and photographed it from the same angle at half an hour before sunset. The resulting 182 still photographs will form the base of a multi-panel installation piece, with a soundtrack composed by Monty Adkins. Introduced to Britain by colonial botanists since the mid-18th century, the rhododendron was initially a highly priced ornamental plant eagerly sought after by the rich and the landed. It is now seen as an invasive and non-native plant, blamed as a threat for British ecology and landscapes. Preston chose this particular rhododendron bush on a post-industrial wasteland for a special reason: the bush has a shape of a love heart.
The walks in the four seasons on the moors provided opportunities to observe, explore and contemplate. One major discovery from the year is that the ecological wasteland, as how it may be seen by many people, is in fact thriving with life. Through footage captured by the infrared-red camera, Preston sees a rich diversity of animals living in and around the rhododendron canopy. The wasteland is in fact a land of opportunity, a home shared by native and non-native lives, including human lives. How to talk about this visually? This is what Preston is working on now.