-Scape: Constructing Nature consists of three artists: Fiona Crisp, Hamish Fulton and Laure Prouvost, who explore the landscape alternatively to its expectation of a natural entity. This view of the landscape as purely natural scenery has remained largely unaltered overtime, and whilst the Land artists began to expand on this, -Scape presents a contemporary progression of this. The exhibition explores the diversions and delusions of constructing the landscape and questions how we may read it outside its natural construction. In doing so the work questions the relationship of space and experience and the ways in which the meaning is constantly shifting.
Laure Prouvost explores the sensuality of the landscape in her film Swallow which focuses on the feel and experience of the landscape in relation to the body. The film is typical of her use of unexpected connections between language, perception and imagery, blurring the boundaries between the real and imagined to create surreal experiences. It is the exploration between the constructed and the reality that ties with the shows investigation of what we imagine a landscape to be and our own experience within it. She creates an experience of an imagined landscape through sound, sight and to a degree touch, and it is in this approach she links to the overall exhibition theme of constructing a version of a landscape and questions this.
Fulton meanwhile is opposite in his approach, methodologically documenting his walks within the landscape. He classes himself as a ‘walking artist’ and it is very much his own experience of this that is presented rather than a shared experience. His 21 Pieces of Wood series breaks down his journeys into units of measure, in which he constructs the mountains he walks using rulers pined together to create an outline of the mountain range. Rather than create an experience for the viewer, it is very much the spatial awareness of a place in terms of the measurable and grasping the enormity of the space that he presents.
Crisp meanwhile explores the constructed landscape and the spatial awareness of this. Her two pieces Negative Capability: Apollo and Negative Capability: The Stourhead Cycle depict the carefully created Stately home landscape which are spatially constructed to be viewed from certain angles. It is this she also brings into the gallery space, in which her positioning of benches are carefully placed in the gallery like those within the grounds of these parks. Her work is hung from structures constructed from scaffolding that emphasises this perfect vantage point which dictates our experience of the landscape within these parks, and allows the viewer to navigate around the work making them more aware of their physical presence.
All three of these artists successfully open up discussions on what we perceive not only the landscape genre in art but our construction of the landscape and experience within it. Whilst they all still operate within the parameters of landscape as a natural country setting and the quaintness of this, -Scape has taken this association and its idealist quality to reveal our construction of this imagined landscape and our expectations within it.
Claire Walker is a writer based in Wigan.
Image courtesy The Holden Gallery.
– Scape: Constructing Nature, The Holden Gallery, Manchester.
11 April – 20 May 2016.