Anna Chrystal Stephens' practice can be understood as an exploration of sustainable living strategies in both rural and urban locations. Specifically, an examination of the tension between survival and leisure as illustrated through popular holiday activities such as camping and canal boating. On the one hand, these nature-based activities can be understood as performances of ancient skills and knowledge, while on the other, they are a way for individuals to escape from the highly prescribed space of a city.
Stephens brings the complexities of inhabiting these land and waterscapes into the gallery through a series of sculptures and photographic images. In the centre of the room stands a structure that appears functional and nostalgic. Stern Hood is inspired by 1970s canvas tents and comes complete with changeable curtains displaying seasonal edible plants. The larger-than-life, many-pocketed, tent-like Utility Cloak explores the viability of nomadic living practices and poses the question: "Why and when did homo sapiens decide it was no longer possible to carry everything needed for living?" Extending knowledge sharing and skill building beyond the gallery is an interactive didactic panel presented on the façade of the building instructing passers-by on how to tie various knots.
Anorak is made in reaction to anxiety about environmental crisis and puts forward that learning survival skills and DIY processes can be an empowering step to gaining a greater understanding and respect of the natural world, thus creating movement towards sustainable solutions.
Category: Arts | Visual Arts | Galleries / Art.