Projects Shroud/Σάβανο
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This ongoing project starts by memorialising the trees which were burned during the wildfires on Paros in 2022 (and to the animals and insects that perished alongside them). It is also about my personal rage at the, predominantly, men in power who all over this beautiful planet, are “fiddling whilst Rome burns”.

In April 2023 I visited Paros, a favourite island for many, many years, fortunate to be staying at the wonderful Cycladic Arts residency for a month. I had been musing on a project about the dichotomy of tourism- loving the Paraian lifestyle and culture whilst eradicating it, demanding an island experience but one which was convenient.

A turning point came when the founder of the Cycladic Arts took us on a well-known inland hike from Lefkes to Prodromos, walking through the spring blooms, scents and vistas of the Byzantine Path. It was full of life, stunning and satiating.

Then, the gut punch of burned black trees- the contorted charcoal of juniper, pine, olive. This was it- this was the dilemma entangled and embodied. I made a few photos, collected some incinerated twigs and bark and decided I would return to make more work.

I had some black muslin that I had brought with me, to use as a background, but instinctively this cloth became a shroud/σάβανο, perhaps the Easter period on the island influencing this atheist. Back amongst the trees I draped the muslin carefully over the dead branches- not just an aesthetic intervention, but also my way of sharing grief, marking the loss. A passer-by observed me making photos and told me “That’s beautiful”. Perhaps grief has a grace? 

I began investigating the wildfires in Greece and globally. Research evidences that those in positions of power are making decisions in the interest of greed and self-serving politics, the only outcome being one of environmental decimation, and nothing put in place to mitigate the consequences. On a local level, those in roles of leadership have a short-term mind-set selling off land to rich visitors requiring pools, irrigation, water, “landscaped” gardens, all meaning extra stress on natural resources and the reduction of the very things that make environments self-caring, self-regulating. Cutting down trees means more heat and soil erosion, fewer birds and insects, flooding, wildfires and a general rush to ecological disaster.

The consumption of once-productive land invaded by holiday villas chewing up the environment. What do the part-time big house inhabitants produce for communities other than more rubbish for landfill or worse? Many times I collected plastic trash along the coast in front of villas, their minimalist pristine gardens the limit of their interest and care for the environment around them. So what does investment mean, and for who?

Whilst at the Cycladic Arts residency I attended an online workshop on sustainable art practices. Of 49 attendees, one man. To paraphrase one attendee when this was raised: “the patriarchy will not be dismantled by those who have an interest in it”.

I write from the perspective of a non-local, who simply loves the island and the potential it has to do things differently, sustainably, and this work is made with respect to those locals who are fighting for their island and identity to survive intact. I write too, as a citizen of the world who sees the unfolding catastrophe, of which the subject of this work is a tiny part of, gathering momentum.

I feel It could be possible to re-set the state of the environment- for our children and every species on this planet. But the capitalists run amok, their intentions hell bent. Populations are directed to convenience-led activities, drugged by social media corporate-led aspirations and distractions . So rage and hope flow into my art practice, my day to day actions and decisions, reaching for remedies whilst living my imperfect life.

The photos are edited in negative monochrome. I want them to appear spectral and also sculptural, Paros being the home of marble. In print, they will be made by using sustainable tracing paper to produce cyanotypes, toned by sustainably produced tea on recycled watercolour paper. 

Curating Whispers
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