Each month one of our Directors chooses an art.earth member to become ‘Artist of the Month’. What follows is a response from that artist to some questions and a discussion, together with some examples of their work.
This month’s featured artist is Peter Ward, selected by Mat Osmond
What are you currently working on?
I moved to West Cornwall from North Devon in 2017 having completed an MA Art & Environment at Falmouth University in 2012 and establishing a practice based on the research and creative (interdisciplinary) appropriation of locally gathered materials, in particular earth pigments and sticks. My research has continued to focus on pigments from historic mining waste and natural landforms here in Cornwall. Despite a similarity in colour the source, nature, formation and voice of the pigments are utterly different. This work (Kescows an Bys – the earth talks) has led to a collaborative project (Painting a Parish Future – https://www.artsandcultureexeter.co.uk/news/painting-a-parish-future) as part of the Creative Exchange programme at the Exeter University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, six weeks in the prestigious Studio 5 at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives and paintings accepted for the John Moores Painting Prize and RWA Open exhibition.
“such unaccustomed periods of self isolation can lead us to look closely at ourselves. we may often be surprised at what we see…” The limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic Lockdown inspired the continuation of an earth pigment face and body painting project – IN YER FACE (the depth of this belonging) – using Southwest pigments and found materials. “such unaccustomed periods of self-isolation can lead us to look closely at ourselves. we may often be surprised at what we see…” The images, predominantly selfies, explore ideas of earth connection and transformation, challenging attitudes towards gender, identity, ethnicity and mental health. A selection was exhibited as part of Fringe Arts Bath Virtual Festival 2020 (https://www.fringeartsbath.co.uk/happenings#peter).
Most recently I have been invited to mentor a group of ten established Somerset artists towards the Somerset Wildlife Trust Brilliant Coast project (https://www.somersetwildlife.org/what-we-do/restore-somersets-nature/create-living-landscapes/somersets-living-coast/somersets-brilliant-coast) to explore and engage audiences around themes of ecology and place, for the initial exhibition at the soon-opening Contains Art Gallery in Watchet. It is exciting, and challenging, to share some knowledge of how the process of art and science may transform and enrich our ecological experience to a group of predominantly commercial artists, and a wonderful opportunity for all to participate in a new community-led creative venture in West Somerset.
What would you say are the primary concerns in your work?
- the voice of nature
- the voice of nature within contemporary culture
- ecological relationship
- ecological expression and engagement
- interdisciplinary process
- tactile experience and embodiment
Anything or anyone who has particularly inspired you…
Personally, my family have and continue to underpin and motivate my work. I feel privileged to have had a childhood supported by a practical understanding and respect for Nature and subsequently a life seeking solace and sense in Nature’s diversity, rhythm and flow. Artistically, the work of Joseph Beuys and herman de vries might best represent my place in contemporary culture, while Aboriginal culture and experience has always fascinated me. More recently I have been fortunate to spend time with a Yuin aboriginal elder in his own country, learning of ecological embodiment and practicality of living and learning in deep connection with Nature. This learning will continue to inform my own work.