Reconnecting with the natural world is the theme of this week’s Arty Afternoon, with artist Clare Baskerville calmly and kindly sharing her creative approach to appreciating the simple things in life.
To watch and be inspired, please click on the ‘Play’ button below
Clare lives in Bournemouth, working sustainably as a visual artist to explore and promote reuniting ourselves with the environments around us, which she achieves through diverse needs support, arts education, collaborative projects and her individual practice.
She recently completed a residency position at spudWORKS in Hampshire and much of her recent work has emerged from two seasons spent in the New Forest. Clare’s curiosity lies in responding to place, something that often leads to her foraging for materials to create her work, which she then deconstructs in order to return the materials to the landscape after she’s crafted her finished piece.
This lends a certain ephemerality to everything she creates, with her sculptural work reflecting her thoughtful and improvisational approach.
As and when she does feel like capturing a more lasting expression of her response to the world, Clare favours expanded drawing, which involves using wire and charcoal to represent the thriving natural elements she’s carefully studied in the hours she’s spent slow-gazing at the great outdoors.
Due to the transient nature of Clare’s work, her video is dedicated to introducing all of us to her sources of inspiration, offering everyone a relaxing retreat from the more manmade elements of our world and an insight into the different ways artists work.
As you watch the video, Clare recommends considering the following:
• Use your senses, whether that’s smell, sound or touch to connect with objects.
• Connect with objects by collecting them, such as gathering seeds for the coming year.
• Enjoy collecting something from nature as a way of bringing a sense to yourself of time and the seasons passing, of realising that life is full of regeneration and renewal. Rather than being linear, everything is a series of loops, with the months going by and the moon forever changing.
• If you’re thinking about making art in response to the video, you could start by printing with the objects you’ve collected, or arrange the objects to form a simple sculpture.
These little pointers will not only help you to fully immerse yourself in the landscapes before you, but Clare hopes they will also encourage everyone to embrace creating art by carefully using the resources available in our own local environments.
Throughout her contribution, Clare conveys memories of her time on her spudWORKS residency, which took place in the New Forest. She lived in the forest and became entirely engrossed in residing amongst the trees and wildlife.
Feeling the spirit of the forest, she rekindled her hunter gatherer instincts and felt the magnetic pull to just go and ‘be’. The precarity of balance expressed by branches became a recurring theme in her sculptural work, whilst the abundance before her led to her taking various elements home to press and become fascinated with.
During this time at home, she shared her appreciation for all that she’d found with others in small art sessions. From using pine needles as brushes to making natural spirals, her months in the forest brought comfort and joy to others, as well as encouraging the creation of more permanent works.
Clare’s artwork is entirely receptive, with her waiting to see where the study of the seasons will take her.
During her residency, a particular pine caught her interest. She created an ever-evolving, subtle artwork for walkers to discover here over the course of five months, whilst she also began to gather the tree’s needles as the weather changed.
Since then, she’s used these needles with naturally sourced ink to paint and has continued bundling them in preparation for her exhibition in November. Exploring the tree in hindsight too has been fruitful and will undoubtedly be responsible for more of Clare’s extraordinary work arriving in the world.
With birdsong echoing in the background and Clare’s warm, soft narration, this video is uniquely calm and beautiful.
As she says, art in this instance “wasn’t about illustrating what my eyes could see, but about finding a way of just being.”
We are so thankful to Clare for supporting our series, as well as to Maddison Collymore for lending her technical expertise, and hope you all find a moment or two to appreciate creatively existing amongst the essence of the earth near you.