The Landscape as Experienced by Emily Tapp
Emily is a Cornwall based artist and student. We fell in love with her beautifully curated corners of the web (website and Instagram), and have since come to consider her to be an emerging voice in the British art scene and particularly in the creation of sustainable art. It doesn't hurt that her photography is beautiful and her vegan food is drool-worthy...
In this guest post she shares her love for landscapes and the sustainable processes through which she honours Nature. I hope you enjoy getting to know her process and artwork as much as we did!
My work is a delayed response to the landscapes I walk through and find myself within, particularly the landscapes of the Cornish coast. My pieces are reliant on a ‘field-work’ practice, a practical and hands-on approach to making… I work in alliance with nature to fully embrace my subject of landscape, generating conceptual suggestions beyond the surface of the works which are indeterminate of their geographic location but nonetheless an insistent sort of fact.
My work facilitates my need to document the natural landscapes that surround me. I think it’s an important thing I feel I need to do because it allows me to play. We don’t ‘play’ much, as adults. We may go to a beach, admire the views, go swimming, whatever… But there’s something so joyous about the missions I set myself on my field work trips. The rubbings from the rock faces allow me to get to know the surfaces of the beach in a more tangible way – a surface I probably wouldn’t think to touch or look at in more detail if I wasn’t exploring it in my work. I ponder upon rocks. Which rocks to slip into my pockets and take back to the studio, which to leave behind?
Through taking materials out of the landscape and using these raw ingredients to make artwork with, the entire process allows a deep reflection on the spirit and the sense of a place. For example, when grinding and sieving the rocks in the studio for making rock powder pigments with, the lengthy and slightly monotonous but nonetheless magical process lends time for me to feel the difference between the rocks. The ochre rocks that crush and grind with such ease… The slate blue rocks that take almost twice as long to process due to their more rigid structures…
I started making my own paints and natural dyes to use in my work around this time last year, when I started researching how toxic man-made paints and pigments can be for the environment. It didn’t make sense for me to be making work about landscape but then damaging it in some way, in turn. I take materials from landscapes and give them back in the form of a piece of art. I grind rocks down into powdered paint pigments, make natural dyes from greenery and plants found in my field-work sites and take direct traces of the surfaces of rocks and trees through the technique of frottage. These materials define the areas I’m working with and tell a deep and conceptual story about the coastline I live and work on.
I suppose natural landscapes have always been the thing that drives my art practice and inspires me – but I wasn’t satisfied being a traditional landscape painter. I didn’t want to paint massive realistic vistas. Instead I wanted to use art to focus in on the finer details of a place, to look at the spatial relationships a place may bring about when we start to move within it. In my work I’m looking at the intangible spaces between things, trying to understand the line of the horizon – a completely conceptual ‘place’ or territory... I’m looking at negative space as a visual way to explain how small we can feel when we inhabit such places, such vast and immeasurable landscapes, particularly when on the coastline when all you can see for miles is the sea.