Human Nature Show
23 April - 2 May 2015
Celebrating emerging and cutting edge environmental art
The Human Nature Show is a concept exhibition which uses various mediums within visual art to explore our relationship with the environment, and to raise awareness of fundamental environmental changes that are happening in our world.
Brought to us by London-based Good Shout Studio. This multi-disciplinary show combines street art, sculpture, illustration and painting. We’ll be turning city waste into wonder with mini chewing gum paintings, paint murals of endangered birds and intricate, miniature sculptures…
“We face huge challenges in how we interact with nature, and who better to explore our relationship with the world than artists?”
“Our artists question the very essence of our humanity, explore what drives us to connect to our environment and how we’re responding to nature’s call to adapt to a world of finite resources.”
– Charlotte Webster, Human Nature founder and curator
Some of London’s best street artists will be at work bringing thought provoking painting, sculpture and colour to the streets of Leeds. There will be murals of endangered birds from ATM, miniature paintings that turning city waste into wonder (on chewing gum) by characterful Ben Wilson, and a hidden trail of bronze sculptures questioning our addiction to fossil fuels by secretive artist Jonesy.
In addition to street art, this exhibition includes sculpture from objects lost and found by London’s Lesley Hilling and evocative oils from Northern Ireland’s Nicola Nemec. Showcasing Yorkshire’s talent will be Anna Lilleengen and Felicia Charles, joined by Matt Forster the landscape painter from Northumbria.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to host a show whose message and ethos is demonstrated so cleverly by this diverse group of talented artists. We’re confident that this show will encourage people to think again about how they interact with nature and their environment.”
– Ellie Andrews, The Gallery at Munro House
Human Nature, which launched in October 2014 now works with around 20 artists and will visit three cities in 2015. It’s developing a number of new arts projects in conjunction with progressive, sustainable British brands.
Human Nature’s creator and curator, Charlotte Webster, has outlined ways in which clean energy could change the art world and help solar power the arts:
“With the year-on-year decline in public arts funding, it’s now up to individuals and the private sector help these artists – not just to survive, but to thrive. There has never been a more important time to work with the best of the UK’s creative talent and to talk about the reality of our ‘Human Nature’. Artists exhibiting at Human Nature question the very essence of our humanity, explore what drives us to connect to our environment and look at the various ways in which we’re responding to Nature’s call to adapt to a world of finite resources. Yes, they offer us the opportunity to question our actions – but they also give us the chance to reconnect with Nature itself.”
“This is a new platform for a growing number of artists, from photographers to sculptors, painters and event street artists. Human Nature now works with almost 20 artists across the country – from emerging talent to our most respected artists – and receives a new request to join almost daily. We champion artists who explore our connection to the natural world, enabling us to examine and celebrate our human need for a thriving environment. Our shows and projects aim to bring people closer to those artists interpreting our complex relationship with the natural environment.”
Human Nature aims to create a sustainable future together with artists.
For more information about the project, please visit the Human Nature Show website.
– Anna Lilleengen –
Anna Lilleengen is a Yorkshire-based fine art photographer, who uses physical processes and vintage, often deteriorating, cameras to create layered, sculptural pieces that explore transient states of being and materiality. Her landscape photographs are from the forests and water of her ancestral Scandinavian roots, and aim to create works that exteriorise inner landscapes. She creates repetitive and mutli-layered analogue images, by using in-camera double and triple-exposures of film. This work is from her series Metamorphosis, I & II (2013 & 2014), created with a 1937 Zeiss Ikon medium format camera. It has recently received Arts Council England backing and been long-listed for the Aesthetica Art Prize. Since completing an MA in Time and Image Based Media at Harrogate School of Art & Design in 2012, she has held over 25 exhibitions in the UK and abroad. She won the Vantage Art Prize in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize last year, being subsequently included in their 2014 Anthology of 100 Contemporary Artists to watch.
Anna on Human Nature:
“Nature provides us with endless opportunities to reflect on the human condition and to find both sources of inspiration and, perhaps more importantly, sources of solace. Many of us take it for granted that there will always be the pockets of pristine nature that we enjoy today, to rest and recuperate in. But there has never been a more pressing need to wake up and realise the more active care of our environment that’s needed, lest it disappear before our eyes.”
“A show like Human Nature encourages us to consider the benefits that our environment provides us. As sentient beings, we need culture to help us reflect on who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. Nature is a key former of this identity and counter-balance to our cultural excesses en masse. The harmony that it is possible to feel in contact with nature can offer our weary souls respite and an intuitive route-map back home.”
– ATM –
ATM is a London-based artist whose paintings of rare and endangered British birds are appearing around the capital. His love of nature is evident in the staggering levels of flair and detail with which he paints these birds. The contrast between nature and the urban environment is something that is at the core of his work. ATM’s first street-painting was of a snipe, abundant in the north and south-west of the British isles, but whose numbers have dwindled in lowland wet grassland of the south-east. The painting was part of a project by Acton Community Forum to bring art to the bleak South Acton Estate, but, for ATM it was also an attempt to return the spirit of the bird to a part of suburban west London that was once marshland. In 2014 he started painting street art in east London, completing a three metre tall image of a great bustard on a black-painted brick wall off the Whitechapel Road. His paintings have since begun to thrive across the capital. ATM grew up in a mill town in northern England and went to art college in Sheffield.
ATM on Human Nature:
“As a child I used to wander not far from town in steep-sided valleys that were thickly wooded and lined with streams and ponds. Insects, amphibians and above all birds were abundant.”
“Birds have always meant a lot to me. I have loved their songs since I was very young. They are also incredibly beautiful. It’s their balance and co‑ordination, their markings. I also love birds because I love the wild places where they live, and I associate the two with each other. But, when as a student I painted birds, the common response was ridicule.”
“After college my painting was inspired by two passions: ancient Greek and Roman myths. Myths shed light on the darker forces in human nature. In myths the unwitting acts of human beings are severely punished by the gods. This speaks to the way we live. The wiser counsel is often ignored; we pretend the environmental side effects are not really happening. We see progress on one level, but at a hidden level the opposite is going on. The warning signs are there for those who care to notice in the loss of the profusion of wildlife I knew as a child. Once-common species such as lapwings, yellow wagtails, skylarks and kestrels have declined in numbers. It has never been more urgent for humans to connect with nature.”
– Ben Wilson –
A woodcarver by trade, Ben started experimenting with occasional chewing-gum paintings in 1998, and in October 2004 began working on them full time. He has created more than 10,000 of these works on pavements all over the UK and parts of Europe. Most of his work is found in Muswell Hill, most recently creating a trail from St Paul’s to the Tate Modern across the Millennium Bridge in London. Spending up to 10 hours painting colourful designs and pictures onto gum, it is first heated with blow torch and then treated with lacquer after painting. Always involved in recycled art, his distaste for industrial waste, cars and rubbish has turned into an art form. Ben has also exhibited his paintings and sculptures in England, the United States, Germany, Ireland, Finland, France and Serbia.
Ben on Human Nature:
“I am upset by all the garbage and sense of disconnectedness where people just affect things in a slightly detached way. When people detach from the environment, that’s when the environment gets destroyed and that’s also when people destroy each other. When a person throws chewing gum, it’s a thoughtless action. I’m turning that around. People think they don’t have an effect. But all the people that chew gum and throw it on the street, they created that. Once painted, it suddenly takes on new meaning and has been given the kind of worth that would otherwise be unthinkable.”
“There is a pretentiousness about a lot of art that can be intimidating. What we are doing is taking it out on to the streets so that everybody can see it and everybody can enjoy it. It is all about bringing art out of the gallery and onto the street. My work evolves out of the place in which I work. Rather than imposing the idea on the place, the idea comes out of the place.”
“I’m doing work that’s for the people. It’s about social cohesion. Every time I do a picture for a different person, it’s making links between people. It’s vital we think more deeply about our human connection both to nature and one another.”
– Charlotte Webster –
Charlotte was born in 1981 near some large green fields and three giant beech trees under the vast skies of Norfolk. She grew up in a home filled with art, crafts, artists, making, doing and fixing. A self-taught artist with a fascination for the natural and social world, Charlotte studied Geographical Sciences at University of Bristol, but unswervingly maintained her passion for pencils and paintbrushes throughout her study.Charlotte’s work vividly celebrates the beauty of the natural world, attempting to capture the quietly powerful spirit of connectedness. Working on reclaimed wood and furniture, her graphical painting focuses on symbolism, traditional indigenous cultures, our relationship with the animal kingdom and the environment around us. The inspiration for her iconography is drawn from her connection to the wild and years living in Canada and New Zealand. Her ‘Zuni Bear’ series explores ancient belief systems and our relationship with the natural world, her first Zuni painting now an official Greenpeace UK print. Charlotte has work in collections in Australia, New Zealand and across the UK.
Charlotte on Human Nature:
“I’ve been interested in symbolism as long as I can remember. Looking up at the totem poles as a child in Stanley Park, Vancouver I loved that they basically screamed ‘don’t mess with nature’.”
“We shouldn’t underestimate the value of what surrounds us as, ultimately, it is what we are. As such, traditional cultures have much to teach us about its value and what to prioritise in life.”
“The Zuni Bear is a North American symbol of the Zuni people, recognised by its distinctive stripe through the body. The bear is seen as a mediator between people and the animal kingdom as well as a ‘guardian animal’ with healing powers. It’s collected worldwide, most commonly as a stone carving.”
“There’s something magically powerful about these creatures and, in my mind, the symbol reminds us of our innate interdependence and the respect we should have for a world bigger and better than us as humans.”
– Felicia Charles –
Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1979, Felicia has developed parallel careers as a self-taught artist, youth worker, and freelance designer. She began her interior design business in 1999 working on a variety of domestic and commercial projects, and soon started to receive an increased interest in her artwork, with many clients commissioning pieces and recommending her services as an artist. Felicia spent most of her formative years outdoors, and these associations with nature, colour, texture and light have left an indelible impression. Combining her artistic practice, love for nature and skills working with young people, Felicia has volunteered at The Donkey Sanctuary in Aruba in 2013 and for a charity working with the homeless and vulnerable children in Hawaii in 2011. In 2015 she is doing some work for Candlelighters children’s’ cancer charity in Leeds. Felicia exhibits regularly, with a number of galleries stocking limited edition prints of her work.
Felicia on Human Nature:
“Growing up and now living in a semi-rural location, with the city just an arms-length away, my new body of work tries to communicate that crossover and possible state of limbo, where nature is forced to adapt and it is survival of the fittest in the ever expanding urbanisation of the land”
“It’s in this state of limbo where I’ve imagined a whole dark underworld of our furry and feathered friends. These animals come to life, with stories of their own injecting a little dark humour. As the collection grows you can get to know the characters and follow some of their shady shenanigans.”
“90% of my ideas come whilst I am out walking my dog and checking up on my “adopted” family of ponies. Getting to know their individual personalities, then creating different characters as I encounter them, from mischievous magpies to mafia blue-tits.”
“These paintings and collage are very labour intensive for me, however, each character as they develop really becomes part of the family.”
– Jane Laurie –
Jane is a British designer, fine artist and illustrator. After graduating with a degree in illustration from Falmouth College of Arts in 2007, she moved to London. There she started working in publishing, designing countless jackets and illustrating several books.She has illustrated for magazines such as America’s Cup, Proof and People, designed packaging and posters, as well as creating visuals for the V&A Museum, Google and world touring west end dance shows. Jane now works predominantly as a wildlife artist. She is a keen naturalist and spends a lot of time observing animals and learning new things about the natural world and science. She has been lucky enough to travel to some extraordinary parts of the world, including the Galápagos Islands, Madagascar, India, Tanzania and New Zealand, all places where she had some truly astonishing wildlife experiences. In the past couple of years, Jane has taken up mural painting, creating her first mural – a twenty foot pheasant named ‘Burt’ – as part of Dorset Art Weeks 2014. Later that year, Jane took her skills to a primary school in London, where she was commissioned to paint eight large animal murals for the playground. In 2014 Jane was appointed the official Artist in Residence for the Sir Bernard Crick Centre, part of the politics department at Sheffield University
Jane on Human Nature:
“Growing up in south west Dorset, it was always easy for me get close to nature. My parents taught me about birds and I would go out to the bluebell woods and sit listening to birdsong, or watch deer grazing from afar. Now that I live in London, I still try to get out like this when I can, and I am constantly delighted by the amount of wildlife I see my my local park.”
“Our planet is filled with an astonishing number of species and I strive to capture the liveliness, energy and personality of the creatures in my work. I am fascinated by the way humans interact with the environment; the relationships, their patterns and the symbiosis they create are continually changing and evolving. I love learning about how animals influence our world, how they fit into our lives. The debate on this interaction and the way we treat our planet is intense. There is no doubt that our precious world is becoming more fragile each day, with animals suffering at the heart of human greed. How we view nature and the environment is now more crucial than ever to the survival of every species on earth, including ourselves.”
“I want people to look at the animals in my paintings and see them the way I do; vivid, exciting and endlessly fascinating. I think we can learn a lot from the creatures we share our planet with.”
“This series explores and reveals how we can utilise the power and dynamics of the natural world to further our understanding of science, technology and innovation in
a huge variety of areas.”
– Mark Jones (Jonesy) –
Secret street artist Jonesy is best known for his miniature works in bronze. His sculptures are often placed high up on the top of street signs or on walls. But these are just one outcome of his many talents. He sculpts, paints, prints and makes musical instruments. The latter made from sustainable fruit trees and recycled wood. Jonesy’s main interests are environmental issues, science and nature, and the survival of man as a species. Since leaving art college in 1986, the main focus of his work has been related to mans’ relationship with the natural world.
Jonesy on Human Nature:
“I attempt to promote intelligent ecology over bad husbandry. Almost everything we do is bad for the planet and we must immediately address the worst of what we are doing if we are to survive. The use of fossil fuels, and in particular sand tar oil, fracking for methane, and the issues surrounding nuclear waste, have been the main focus of my work, along with trying to promote more environmentally friendly forms of energy. I create sculpture, painting, prints, street art, and musical instruments to communicate this.”
“I’m interested in musical instruments because music and art are two ways in which an individual can have a voice in society. Artists can have a voice in a world of multi-national corporations, government control and advertising. I feel counter-balance messages are an urgent necessity. For making guitars, I believe I have found tonewoods that are more environmentally friendly then those conventionally used. Many musical instruments are made from woods that are no longer sustainable. Use of fruitwoods to make musical instruments preceded the use of tropical woods, so I’ve been using these and other European woods not sourced from rainforests. I have used cherry, pear, walnut, plum, yew, oak, beech, plane/lace wood, boxwood and hickory; and also been working with recycled wood.”
– Lesley Hilling –
Lesley Hilling’s wooden sculptures are instantly recognisable for their organic elegance and architectural construction. Taking up to a year to complete, Lesley creates her intricately composed utopian towers with embedded objects and relics from the past. Fragile seagull eggs, crustacea shells, dominoes, pocket watches, photographs of Lesley’s family and valves from an old radio, have all been woven into the woodwork. Lesley uses only recycled materials and found objects. This not only saves money, but also cuts down on all the unnecessary stuff in the world. It also gives her the added pleasure of searching in skips for the items that correspond with her imagination. Out with the old and into the new. Her work conveys a powerful sense of longing to preserve the fragments of the past, a desire for order, a passionate and mysterious evocation of lost moments. Lesley has lived in south London for over thirty years and is represented by the Knight Webb Gallery.
Lesley on Human Nature:
“My work explores two themes – the exterior, architectural layering of buildings and cities and the interior home space. Each with an emphasis on memory, collective and personal, the passage of time and how it impacts upon our lives.”
“I build collages out of salvaged wood, floorboards, driftwood and furniture. It is all re-worked into new forms, jigsawed and layered with an obsessive joinery. I create something new from objects that had a previously different life. My early work shows an interest in openings, compartments and drawers that can house tiny artifacts of memory – a photograph, a shell – a forgotten treasure. These works take the viewer on a journey. The work has to be interacted with – the opening of doors, the pulling out of drawers – an interplay between what is hidden, what is revealed and what is to be discovered. In my most recent work the closed plane has given way to a fretwork of wooden pieces built up in layers that allow glimpses of what lies inside.”
“I imagine lifting the roofs off a row of terraced houses or a block of flats to see how people have transformed their homes and created meaning for themselves, making an identical space completely personal. In my more architectural pieces I make purely structural forms – instead of forgotten treasures secreted within there are layers of greying timber with eroded paint reminding us that people once used, worked and lived with this material.”
– M J Forster –
M J Forster is an established British Landscape painter. Born in Oxford in 1975 he has drawn and painted since childhood. With no formal education in the arts he is self taught and still learning. Having completed a sports science degree at Loughborough University in 1997 he immediately set about life as a professional artist. Initially he established a gallery in Hexham Northumberland for a number of years before extensively travelling the world in search of new subject matter and an improved drawing technique. On his return to Britain in 2003 he continued to develop his love of watercolour and particularly landscape. Alongside his traditional and abstract work M J has developed his is self styled Überpaintings. While initially portraying the British landscape they are ever evolving and will continue to move into other subjects both real and imaginary. An Überpainting is the antithesis of watercolour. Constructed using a layering process of flat washes similar to a screen print. These paintings have to be developed through a rigorous and unavoidable process. The final image is refined through a series of paintings until the ultimate perfect image is revealed. M J Forster works from his studio gallery in Hexham Northumberland where his work is permanently exhibited in addition to partnerships with galleries across The British Isles.
M J Forster on Human Nature:
“My watercolours have always been landscape based. The question I’m most often asked is what inspires you; the answer is simple landscape and the natural world. “
“I climbed my first Lakeland mountain with my father aged six, it was Blencathra. As we stood at the top looking down toward Keswick and Derwent water I saw for the first time what an entire rain cloud looked like I saw the whole cloud dumping its rain on the valley below. Looking back now I know I knew at that point that this landscape, our natural world was going to be a major part of my life.”
“I’ve never looked back.”
– Meraud Bawden –
Meraud’s artistic work typically develops from taking everyday subjects, both natural and manmade, and capturing the hidden character or vitality within them. Previous Human Nature works focused on places of amazing natural beauty, she now goes to an even grander, almost unfathomable scale achieved with a birds’ eye view. What feelings are evoked in viewing the World in this way, when we strip it back to its essence? With unassuming shapes, elementary colours and sparse detail, she encourages the viewer to find the power & strength of these locations and why we continually strive to be in, and hold on to, nature’s beauty. Meraud Bawden was born in New Zealand. She has been living in London since 2006. Recently graduating from the London Art Academy, she now focuses on exploring a greater variety of mediums and subjects.
Meraud on Human Nature:
“We are consistently surrounded by nature from the moment we step foot into the world. This constant in our lives can often be assumed, overlooked or even disregarded.”
“To alter our viewpoint, to readdress our Earthly connection, I’ve based this work on an alternate perspective. The birds’ eye view gives us an abstracted, rarely seen take on common landscapes or features of nature, removing the known elements and realising a state of disconnection with our surroundings.”
“The power and strength found in this can give us a better understanding of where we live, its overwhelming beauty, and what we should be striving to maintain.”
– Nicola Nemec –
Born in Belfast, Nicola has exhibited extensively across the UK and Ireland for the last twenty years, with regular solo exhibitions in London. After graduating in 1994, she entered a national competition and won a S.P.A.C.E. studio award of one year’s tenure. She then continued to live and work in the East End of London. In 2002, she moved with her family to the North Coast of Northern Ireland, and has been featured on BBC Newsline, Radio Ulster and in numerous national publications. The Irish State recently purchased a painting for their prestigious collection, and she is represented in private collections worldwide. She exhibited as part of the Londonderry/Derry ‘City of Culture 2013’ programme. Nicola has been the recipient of awards such as the Edna Lumb Travel Prize, and an Arts Council Award. Along with her husband Andy Baird, she owns and runs Planet Solar, a bespoke solar design and installation company in Northern Ireland.
Nicola on Human Nature:
“Following my solo London exhibition ‘Monuments’ in 2011, I have continued to explore the theme of man-made structures within the landscape. I am interested in how the presence of these remarkable modern engineered constructions contrast with nature- the shifting climate and atmosphere of the earth, sky and water.”
“My first wind turbine series was completed in 2012. The paintings exhibited in HUMAN NATURE investigate the aestheticism of renewables within our landscape, and how these new ‘monuments’ contribute to our changing environment.”
– Walden –
Indiana Caba (‘Walden’) was born in Zaragoza, Spain, in 1987. She currently lives in London. Indiana’s work is notorious for its multidisciplinary approach, particularly focused on illustration and photography. She has contributed to many publications, fanzines and exhibitions across the world over the last decade. In 2012, she published a photography book titled “Pequeña Vida” (‘Little Life’, Jekyll&Jill), a collection of 35mm photographs focused on the everyday small details that make life meaningful. Indiana is currently developing a personal street art project under the pseudonym of ‘Walden’ based on extinct species with which she is capturing the attention of East London’s street art scene.
Walden on Human Nature:
“Having lived in both rural and urban settings, combined with my love of the natural world, my work often reflects the dichotomy of nature and urban environments.”
“I am often drawn to nature’s ability to adapt and triumph in city habitats and the juxtaposition of natural vs. ‘man made’. Each project consists of multiple works, often in a range of different media, grouped around specific themes and subjects. During research and the creative process new areas of interest arise and lead to the next body of work.”
“I work in a wide range of materials, from biro to gold leaf and find that every image deserves a different approach. I don’t set out to produce art about any given subject however it is my underlying love of the natural world that provides me with the greatest source of inspiration.”
The exhibition and artists are supported by leading renewable energy crowd funders, Abundance. It is also being supported by and Yorkshire-based Ecology Building Society, Liquitex, Earthborn paints and PQ Magazine.
“We’re delighted to help bring Human Nature to Leeds. Whilst oil companies currently fund many of our biggest art institutions, the social and financial organisations of tomorrow can help the arts thrive in a modern, democratic way. The show reflects a radical shift which is occurring in our culture and economy. We need art to do more than just show us a cynical reflection of ourselves and our consumerism. We need art that says something about the world we are wasting and the value that exists in nature which we should all want to ensure is passed on to the next generations.”
– Bruce Davis, Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director of Abundance