animation from gelatin prints, fossils collected from the east yorkshire coast, 2018
What does generation loss look like in the earth? Are there ways in which we gravitate towards anxiety in our psychological landscapes that might be reflected in the visualization of the gaps in the fossil record – in data and collections? Are there parallels to be drawn and associations to be unearthed between neurological disease, memory loss, and geological processes such as erosion and overprinting, at a point in time at which the geologic, biologic and technologic are becoming so much more tightly bound and blurred?
These are all broad questions, which I seek to investigate, to distil, and push the boundaries of.
One of the main threads of my practice is the idea that the only resource we have is the past, and the question of how this informs the production of visual work in relation to new technologies is something that lies at the roots for me. Primarily, and broadly, I employ printmaking techniques, combining traditional processes with digital processes, to examine the concept of loss - memory loss, particularly in terms of neurological disease, and physical/environmental loss in terms of landmass in our age of rapid geological alteration. I also produce castings, installation works and paintings, however I feel that all of these within my practice pivot around the concept of print and sequences. I have recently shown a body of work at Artlink Hull entitled ‘This Is _ Land’ which interrogates the latter – a project asking broad questions initiated by the spaces in the title, and the effects of the Anthropocene such as accelerated climate change in collision with nationalism on human migration.
‘This Is _ Land’ is a body of work – mixed media screenprints from sensationalist tabloid cuttings and scanographs of fossils, casts from kids ‘survival’ action toys – that grew out of a wider project which I am beginning to explore. This wider project concerns my interest in connections between geological processes and processes of memory loss, which on a personal level are likely initiated by anxieties concerning my own experiences with migration and relationships, as well as my persistent curiosity in the natural sciences and the human impulse to ‘save’. This interest began during my BA and culminated in an installation, which recreated the office of Hull’s first Museum curator in a psychological case study of a hoarder who lost all of the cities collections during the Blitz in 1943. Through these initial connections I began to form a network which later helped inform a documentation project in collaboration with Hull Museums in 2017-18, highlighting their Bronze Age pottery collections via print (cyanotypes and large format screenprint manipulations).
Sheppard grew up on the East Yorkshire coast and wrote volumes of observations on the geology and history of that landscape – the rapidly eroding cliffs eating into an agricultural area known as Holderness, on which my family lived and worked. Sheppard’s ‘Geological Rambles in East Yorkshire’ served as a way of understanding some of the muddied and isolated locations I found in several old family photograph albums from the 1950’s. This was a somewhat sentimental starting point for a consideration of how this area of landmass which features the fastest eroding coastline in Europe, with bolder clay rich in fossilized life forms from ice age glacial deposits, is fragmenting and reforming like a society itself – the wear and tear of the people on the surface, the wear and tear of the crumbling clay and the shifting forces beneath our feet. I am interested in the metaphysical, and the potential of the term ‘the fossil record’ as being a description of the recorded human memory of experiences of a landscape and relationships as much as it stands for a scientific collection of measurable and agreed historical evidence. The fossil record is, of course, notably incomplete. That incompleteness is fascinating to me and returns to that undercurrent of my practice and my overall process. I continue to work towards both unraveling and examining these subjects that inform my practice much more closely, and to dedicatedly pursue connections and relationships between the neurological and the geological with relevant institutions and practitioners in those fields, and within the context of contemporary making.