In November 2016 I spent a short time King’s Wood Challock with two other artists working on ideas stimulated by the woodland setting. We grouped the works-in-progress thematically as Humanature. I was experimenting with ‘natural’ materials: animal pelts, feathers, skulls, leaves, blood, flowers, bones and animal ‘artefacts’: materials I had never used before, although consistent with my use of ‘found objects’ and reclaimed materials. These, it seemed to me, needed to be brought back into the woods. I had already begun to envisage a ‘figure’ – something to do with wildness and the savagery of (our) nature.
Almost exactly a year later this work evolved into a solo exhibition ‘The Last Gift’ in the Space gallery in Folkestone.
Forests stir in most people a sense of closeness to ‘nature’: its beauty, its regenerative cycle of genesis, growth, decay and regeneration. This cycle of life is familiar to us, even reassuring, as it reflects the rhythms of our own time on Earth. But it also stirs other, more disturbing responses as a ‘site of imagination’. I was keen to get back there.
In a kind of serendipity there was a call-out for artists in late 2017 to participate in ‘Woods to Where Else’, a short residency, again in Kings Wood. Artist, Mavernie Cunningham, provided a brief, lead the workshops and organised a symposium where we presented our responses to the site (there was no requirement to produce finished work).
During the residency, I developed a series of Fairy Tale images with a twist: Little Red Riding Hood became Foxy ; Rapunzel an executive whose hair is the extended career-ladder; the Snow Queen an Olympic ice-skater.