How do we views ourselves in relation to nature? Susannah Bolton, London based artist, questions the contemporary notion of ‘natural.’ Through the exploration of its definition as the result of a ‘cultural phenomenon,’ ‘natural’ becomes reliant on self perception and surroundings. Susannah’s works are visual documents of our current relationship with ‘nature,’ and highlights the irony of it seen as disparate – ‘Humanity is ‘natural’ and the separation, or disconnect, is all a cultural perception — the disconnection is maybe with reality and not nature!’ In such explorations, the artist seeks to create spaces of contemplation in considering the notion of the natural and in what ways one relates to it.

As an artist concerned with environment, artist residencies become fundamental in the expanse of mental territory corresponding with the exploration of new physical territory. Iceland- Stöðvarfjörður, Susannah’s previous residency abroad supported her curiosity with the ‘North’ and the concept of the high Arctic/far North. Originating from ‘a small Hebridean Island with ancient geology by daily shifting shorelines,’ Icelandic topography provided endless source material in feeding Susannah’s enthusiasm of geological subject matter and the sea. Iceland became a margin closer to the ideal of building a body of work about the reality of the high North- the Arctic Circle.

‘Room With a View,’ Susannah’s most recent group exhibition, responded to the working space of the Hotel Elephant warehouse. Having already begun with the idea of contrived and controlled ‘natural’ spaces, Susannah considered the uncontrollable factors such spaces are exposed to and drew a parallel between this and the icy temperature of her working environment. The cold state of the warehouse demobilised the ease of drawing, thus influencing the resulting delicacy of the piece which was produced in a controlled set up, and possessing changeable results. Alongside, the marbled paper, a small rock with growing moss inquired as to whether this was more ‘natural’ than a garden.

The majority of Susannah’s work resides on paper hand drawn, printed or collaged, which also quenches ‘bibliophilic tendencies,’ at times supported by books and publications. However the concept of the physical page also translates to the virtual page through recent experimentations with Google Earth. In expanding sources and media, innovative means of combining traditional and technological techniques further supports Susannah’s obsession with the contemporary perception of nature and allows an almost scientific and analytical approach of landscapes. Despite the chaos and abundance of ‘nature,’ the artist works are measured, precise and beautifully delicate. They inhibit a sense of the voyeuristic via isolated islands on vast white sheets and allow contemplation in slices of space and natural forms. Viewers are given the opportunity to reassess what it means to be reconnected with nature avoiding the influence of didactic intention.


Feature by Amber Scarlett / amber@thirstforvision.com


SÝN Magazine

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