As my practice becomes more involved with natural processes, I have started to become more aware of the waste that comes about in the art world, particularly in the studio. After each hand-in, I would try to recycle as much paper as possible for new paintings or collages but I would inevitably throw away a lot of work that I wasn't necessarily proud of, or that I didn't want to keep.
Not only did so much of my time get wasted, but also so much paper would be thrown, which could have been re-used.
I'm trying to tackle this. I want to have a sustainable art practice - to maintain the most low-waste practice possible. Over the last term I have collected a pile of 'waste' cut offs and swatches that I am reusing to make new pieces of work.
These new recycled collages hark back to the dòirneag collages I made last term, but with a different meaning. These pieces are more about mindfulness in the studio. They are about making work from 'nothing'. Sustainability is so important to me in all aspects of my life, from the clothes I wear to the food I eat, so I want to make sure my artistic practice follows suit.
It feels good to be aware about the waste I may produce in the studio, not only embracing natural mediums but also embracing a sustainable approach to making.
Last weekend I headed out on my first field trip of the term, with Tom. We walked a segment of the Bissoe trail, from Devoran to Poldice Valley to collect pigments for my new body of paintings.
We read a few of the information boards along the trail, and I found out that a number of the sites around the Bissoe area were extracting ochre.
By diverting the Carnon River into settling ponds, ochre was extracted by draining excess water, drying the minerals and packing into kegs bound for shipment from Devoran. The ochre was used in paint making and for colouring building materials.
I extracted various samples from different sites along our 9-mile walk. It was exhausting but so exciting - I hadn't been on a field trip like this since November, on my residency at Stiwdio Maelor in Wales. It felt great to be back outdoors, collecting pigments for new work.
A range of colours were extracted along the way; mainly yellows, greys, deep reds and oranges. Now that the pigments have been collected I can finally start to picture this new body of paintings in my head, one that I have been planning since early December.
I will be working in collaboration with the technicians over at Exeter University in the Geology department over the next few days to test the samples for heavy metals, to determine which of the samples will be safe to use in my paintings.
Although a more lengthy process, I feel it is important. As I am now working with mining waste, there is an element of caution I have to take that I haven't needed to take before now, just working with rocks collected on a beach.
Another aspect of working with Exeter University that excites me about this new step in the process is the scientific element it will bring to the finished paintings. I will be able to use equipment to identity what the minerals actually are, rather than just using the umbrella term of 'mining waste'.
This means that the critical context of the works are more deeply rooted in science and less in a vague ideology, something I have been working towards for quite some time.
Now I have taken the plunge and am working in a more scientific way with the collection and processing of my pigments, the scope for new bodies of work widens significantly. There are a number of waste mining locations across Cornwall I wish to visit before the degree show, to come together in a finished series of paintings that explore these areas.
However, the scope does not end in Cornwall. There are locations I wish to visit in other areas of the UK, but also abroad. It becomes more and more about place, the pigments alluding to the history of a location.
I wish to collect Dead Sea mud from Israel and to travel to Iceland to source clay and mineral deposits from mud pits in the Seltún geothermal area at Krisuvik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. These are not immediate goals, but rather long-term goals for my career.
Whilst I will be based in Cornwall and my work will predominantly be about the exploration of the impact of the mining industry on the landscape, there are locations all over the world I wish to study, visit and make work about.