Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eco Art, By Chelsea Amor Lotz

For many generations artists have remained with the same question in mind: Is art sustainable, how can the human expression of art connect us to nature and to that of humanity?  Furthermore, is it possible for both humanity and nature to connect intrinsically, and through the use of art to improve and nurture the relationship and understanding between humans and nature whilst remaining to deepen the human expression, reaction and psyche towards our relationship with nature?

Some people wonder about eco art in a practical sense, it terms of sustainability and workmanship. Should art, they wonder, not inspire recycling, reusing and re-imagining the way art is used? Some of the greatest art pieces seen in the world today, are simply structured around the re-thinking of a theme, with new or different level of consciousness, allowing the theme to be utilised in a new way, although appearing the same. We see this all the time, with tables made from loo rolls, portraits made from plastic bottles and great pieces of art with recycled materials such as paperclips, tyres, plastic and rope. The use of such materials also brings into awareness the excess waste and the disastrous impact that pollution has on the environment, whilst understanding that waste can be reused for better purposes.

There is a huge and vast array of materials in which the use for ecological art means opening a new world, whilst allowing one to journey into the unknown and adventurously foray into new, but largely uncharted territories of ecological art.

Some of the most beautiful pieces of eco art, have begun with the thought in mind of working with nature, and then expand into beautifying and working in accordance with nature. A typical example of this is land art, where the vast space, terrain and weather conditions, including the rhythms of nature are taken into consideration. South Africa has been at the forefront of expanding its global recognition on land art; in Plettenberg Bay in 2011, artists specialising in land art gathered in South Africa, traveling from around the world to share, display and expand on this interest.

Land art is a beautiful example of how it is possible to not only work with nature, but to display and represent an individualistic concept of our connection with nature, and how that connects us to the earth.

Art in a sustainable sense, is also the consideration of the effects of chemicals in paints, and dyes, that will inevitably end up in the earth and in water. By moving to more sustainable, naturally sourced pigments, without the toxic chemicals, it makes a definitive stand on the evolution of art to becoming a sustainable practice. Ethical pigments and dyes are being made commercially, although it is quite easy to prepare natural paints at home.

The aim of art has always been to entice, shock and satisfy the sense, sometimes one or all of the above, yet by considering the relationship to nature and the use of materials, man is able to make a stand by creating a bridge between art and a sustainable world. Furthermore by the imagining of abstract art and it's context to nature, for example the use of nature to mimic or copy nature, only deepens our relationship and understanding to nature.

It is in this, that we begin to understand that art, can not only be used for the aesthetic effect of being visually pleasing or emotionally moving, but that art can create a statement that is in support in the evolution of human consciousness and our relationship to the beautiful, diverse and immense world that we live in.

- Chelsea Amor Lotz

Friday, September 7, 2012

Little Green Day Activity

On 26 August 2012 an event called the Little Green Day was hosted by Deer Park Café in Vredehoek, Cape Town. The event featured a solar-powered stage for musicians, great music, organic and vegetarian food, some product stalls, and workshops. One of the workshops were facilitated by me, Janet Botes, and were open to anyone who wanted to join. A couple of kids joined and we created some toys, unfinished artworks and gadgets by using discarded food packaging, plastic bags and other 'waste'. Instead of using paint, we coloured our creations with coffee (the cheapest I could find, but next time I'll try using fair trade coffee).

Mask made from a pizza box lid, and a rolled piece of newspaper as 'stick'.

Why not gather some tools and random bits, invite some friends, open a bottle of wine, and together make things with what you have in front of you. It's fun to just play around and experiment - you don't need to have an end product or idea in mind, just attach and wind different pieces of plastic, polysterene and plastic bags together and see what you are able to create! Or if you like kids, or have kids, do the same (without a bottle of wine, of course!), you'll be delightfully surprised at the funky ideas that children come up with.

Instead of using glue or tape, find and develop other techniques to attach things. Here's some ideas or suggestions:
  • wrap torn/cut pieces of plastic, chips packets, crackerbread foil or newspaper around an item
  • thread with discarded/old rope, twine or pieces of twirled paper/foil/plastic
  • fold and cut cardboard or paper, making tags that fit into slits

Have fun!