GOOD NATURE celebrates the natural world through the observations of some of the leading artists working in the UK today who awaken our senses to the abundant beauty of our planet. They take inspiration from the warmth of the sun, the green lungs of the forests and the dark depths of the oceans, alongside all life that teems in and under them. We are reminded of the changing and fragile state of Earth and are invited to reflect on how it is necessary for all these elements to interconnect in order to exist.
"I have chosen to bring together these artists to concentrate our thoughts around the planet at a moment when its beauty and fragility are deeply affected by our treatment and explorations of it. I want to see how artists and thinkers will respond to this important theme. The show is curated to be a thoughtful and probing look at us, and our place, in the natural environment. I hope too that it will create positive reactions from those who come to see the work and encourage them to make changes for the long term conservation of our world " Candida Stevens, Curator
Contributing artists include highly acclaimed, environmental sculptor David Nash RA OBE who shows a work created from a Holly tree, charred in his distinctive style, with an associated print. Eileen Cooper RA OBE, and this year’s curator of the RA Summer Show, includes a painting inspired by the the power of the flower. Stephen Farthing RA makes a new print about the escapism nature provides. Returning from highly successful exhibitions at Venice Biennale, Stephen Chambers RA takes a humorous look at manmade versus nature whilst Nicola Green makes a series of silkscreen prints in response to deforestation. It is a piece she says that she has always wanted to do but never had the right opportunity to create until now. Tom Hammick, responds with an atmospheric painting inspired by the power of what lies beneath the Earth’s crust. Pioneering textile artist Alice Kettle makes a piece about the power of the sun, whilst in contrast the photographic lens of Maciej Urbanek draws attention to the beauty found in the shade of the forest.
Wildlife observations include a new bronze of boxing hares, by award winning sculptor Hamish Mackie. The vulnerability of natural materials is addressed with an inverted marble sculpture from Almuth Tebbenhoff. Planetary landscape artist Michael Benson investigates new worlds with a look at Earth from the Moon and science inspired sculptor Briony Marshall explores new materials, directly from nature, with her compacted earth piece. In all, over 30 selected artists show an individual work on this important and increasingly relevant theme for our time.
Each artist has also written a complementary passage giving reference to the piece they have made, allowing them a voice on environmental matters. The range of comments is revealing, from Stephen Chambers RA who says “When Professor Sir David King in 2001 incensed George Bush by saying that global warming was a greater threat than global terrorism he was not kidding. This however, is not the painting to attest to that truth. It is an image to acknowledge that were all things equal the result would be: Nature 1 Mankind 0” to Briony Marshall who seeks inspiration in the words and work of influential conservationist Rachel Carson “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” Each of which demonstrate the common themes that pervade and the artists’ wish to expose not only the vulnerability but also the constancy of nature.
The gallery has invited natural world explorer, and author of Natural Navigation, Tristan Gooley to write a foreword to the exhibition and provide a talk. He knows, from his years of experience, that giving talks that lecture people on the environment is not the way to engage them rather it is inspiring them that elicits enthusiasm to be proactive.
“We shouldn’t lecture people into changing behaviour, it is almost always ineffective. Instead of saying, “Bird numbers are decreasing, this is terrible, we are all wicked and our lifestyle is an abomination,” we could try saying something very different. Maybe: “Have you noticed how the birds on trees and rooftops face into the wind? When they change the direction they are facing it means that the wind direction has changed and there may be rain on the way.” A person who enjoys this sign will come to notice the birds and any change in their numbers and behaviour.” Tristan Gooley, extract from the foreword written for the catalogue.
It is in this spirit that GOOD NATURE aims to take inspiration from all that is good about nature and hopes to bring out the good in all our natures to positively play our part in its preservation.
We will be raising awareness of and funds for Marine Conservation Society, a UK based charity working to secure the future for our living seas, clearing them of rubbish and protecting wildlife.