Jon Foreman arranges his seashell coils and stone gradients knowing that they’ll be washed away by the tide or kicked over by passersby. The artist’s ephemeral land art is hypnotic and entrancing in its precision, arranged in perfectly concentric circles and exacting compositions depressed in the sand. His large-scale pieces transform blank beaches and forest expanses into artworks that evidence both environmental diversity and continuity.
Based in Wales, the artist began creating his nature-based work while in college. Since then, his land art has ranged from minimal stone sculptures to sweeping sand mandalas, and each project has its own entrancing motif. “Repeat processes are always very therapeutic and this is a good example of that, getting lost in the process is an important part of land art,” Foreman recently wrote on Instagram.
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Devon-based photographer Neil Burnell captures a mossy labyrinth of gnarled roots and twisted branches in a new series that manifests nature’s most fantastical qualities. Mystical exposes the otherworldly elements of Wistman’s Wood, an ancient oak woodland on Dartmoor, Devon, England, while it’s enveloped by a dense fog. The overgrown forest is thought to be the remnants of a similarly wooded area dating back to 7,000 B.C.
Burnell tells Colossal that when he visited the spot as a kid, he was reminded of “the film set of Empire Strikes back in the forest of Dagobah.” The photographer has spent much of his career in graphic design, but after delving into photography more seriously, he returned to the forest to try to capture the mysticism in his cinematic style.
It’s taken four long years of visiting and learning to capture a series I’m truly happy with as compositions can be tricky in such a claustrophobic wood. 90% of the successful images are either shot in the first hour of light or the last hour when the light is really soft. The other key element for a successful session is thick fog…I can count the successful trips over the four years on one hand. Many times I’ve been the conditions just don’t suit for the style I want to achieve.
As climates change around the world, areas like Wistman’s Wood will feel the effects. The photographer says the area requires a balance between being protected from destruction while also being available for human interaction and enjoyment. “Over the four to five years I’ve been photographing, it’s clear to me that the woodland is (at) its most vulnerable in the winter months and particularly after heavy rainfall,” he says. “The harsher weather climate throughout the year really can be damaging…During the past five years, I’m thankful to say I’ve not seen one person who hasn’t been respectful to the woodland.”
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Artist Hessa Al Ajmani often gathers small flowers and fronds from her mother’s garden. She brings the floral arrangements to her home studio, where she presses the groupings onto her earthenware and stoneware pieces, leaving simple and realistic imprints. Based in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates, the artist uses some plaster molds and stamps she creates herself, although each piece is hand-built, preventing any two from being exactly alike. Before firing, she peels off the greenery and petals, revealing the small grooves and divots that she later paints.
Because Al Aljmani doesn’t use a wheel, her pieces typically take hours, or even days, to finish. “I’ve been playing with all sorts of clay (air-drying, polymer, earthenware) since I was a child. I learned how to work with it professionally in university, but didn’t pick up the practice until about a year ago,” she said on her site. “I had to re-teach myself all the basics and do endless tests with clay consistency, form, texture, firings, etc.”
Shaping each ceramic piece and layering the found florals is therapeutic, the artist says, because it requires patience and has fostered an acceptance of and appreciation for imperfection. “My ceramic work speaks of my memories of home and the process of self-healing. Through imprints of flower, leaves, and patterns, it invokes a sense of nostalgia and the idea of home as a space of free thought and personal growth,” she said.
In addition to her own practice, the artist founded the Clay Corner Studio in 2019, which offers ceramics and painting classes. To watch Al Ajmani’s process, check out her Instagram and see which pieces she has available for purchase in her shop.
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Marianne Eriksen Scott-Hansen doesn’t have to worry about her flowers wilting. She constructs enormous bouquets of tissue paper blossoms featuring countless petals and leaves in color-coordinated bunches. The Copenhagen-based artist tells Colossal that she doesn’t keep track of the pieces of paper or number of hours she spends on her large-scale projects, preferring to focus on creating rather than the actual process of cutting and shaping. Each piece is crafted by hand and without patterns or templates, making every petal, stem, and bit of pollen unique.
Much of Scott-Hansen’s work reflects her childhood in the countryside, anchoring her style in nature and Danish folk art. Heavily rooted in craft, the artist says she works both artistically and intuitively. “It’s all in the hands so to speak. I want to enter into a dialogue with the material. Work my way into it. Exploring rather than ‘mere’ re-working and investigation. (Seeing) how far can you ‘stretch’ paper.” She enjoys using the same material to create various textures, contrasting durable, rough wood and delicate petals.
Thrift, hard work, and industry are required as well, in order for my artworks to grow into something other than the tissue they were. Something must be small before it can be big, humble before it can be flashy—it is the contrast of nature that carries opulence within it and triggers our imagination. In my reworking, the tissue paper roots of the triffid may also become that of the rose.
The artist graduated from The School of Design at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1995 with a degree in fashion design. Since then, she’s collaborated with a long list of clients including Elle Denmark, Karl Lagerfeld, and Hermès, to name a few. Currently, she’s working on an installation for an international summit planned in Copenhagen in May. See more of Scott-Hansen’s blooming projects on Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)
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Colored Micrographs Magnify Pollen Seeds, Plant Cells, and Leaf Structures in Photographs by Rob Kesseler
Using scanning electron microscopy and a mix of microscopic, scientific, digital, and manual processes, artist Rob Kesseler develops colored micrographs of the intricate patterns within pollen and seed grains, plant cells, and leaf structures. The highly magnified photographs feature specifics of cellular composition that are undetectable without magnification.
Kesseler tells Colossal that as a child, his father gifted him a microscope, marking a pivotal moment in his creative career. “What the microscope gave me was an unprecedented view of nature, a second vision,” he writes, “and awareness that there existed another world of forms, colours and patterns beyond what I could normally see.” The artist says his use of color is inspired by the time he spends researching and observing, and that just like nature, he employs it to attract attention.
Kesseler calls the intersection between art and science “a process and a product, a morphogenetic synthesis of two expansive cultures and a way of examining the world through a series of filters.” And he has hope for the relationship between the two disciplines, saying, “I like to think we are entering a new age where after a century of separation, artists and scientists are again working together, sharing ideas that reflect our age.”
Currently the chair of Arts, Design and Science at Central Saint Martins, Kesseler also is a fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Microscopical Society. His most recent work includes a project with journalist Mathew Tucker of the BBC and a collaboration with Dr. Louise Hughes at Oxford Instruments. Both deal with the impacts of climate change on the plant world.
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In her series of sewn together and crocheted leaves and twigs, Susanna Bauer (previously) considers the fragility of nature and humans’ inextricable tie to its survival. The Cornwall, England-based artist combines the found elements with fine cotton thread to produce unique objects steeped in the history of craft. Intimate marks add detail to small patches or the complete outline of browned leaves, drawing our attention the natural growth patterns found in their interiors. A selection of her free-standing and framed sculptures are currently on view with Le Salon Vert at VOLTA Basel in Switzerland through June 15, 2019. You can view more of Bauer’s works formed from leaves, thread, and twigs on her website and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.