As the overall theme for this semester is Nature I began by contemplating the various elements of nature. A recurring motif that stood out to me was the force of nature, and its strength, particularly in the way that it reclaims the world back if left to its own devices. I became interested in this idea, and found that it made me feel very insignificant in the world, as the human nature could never be as strong as environmental nature. This idea became particularly exciting for me given what we experienced during lockdown; watching the way that nature started to reclaim the Earth due to less pollution, litter and traffic. We experienced cleaner seas, animals walking through towns and villages that usually we would not see, and clearer skies.
A parallel began to stand out to me about the two themes of human nature and environmental nature; although both entirely different concepts from each other, they have strong similarities. For example, although they both have destructive qualities, they both have resounding strength which manifests in different ways. The two are incredibly interlinked because as humans we are a part of nature – it is interesting how they seem to work against each other, as humans often try to control nature and bend it to their own will.
The idea of my project developed when I began to notice the physical ways in which nature reclaims the land. For example, I noticed a lot of fly-tipping when I was walking around my local area. I found the way in which the environment grew around it and in some parts completely embedded and covered the rubbish really beautiful and inspiring. It felt like a portrayal of renewed hope; that whatever is bad, something good will always manage to grow from it. In my project, I hope to explore these concepts further, perhaps by comparing and contrasting human nature and environmental nature, and altogether investigating Nature as a whole.
Reclamation of Nature
I decided to go on a walk with my camera and photograph any signs of nature reclaiming land – this was clearly apparent on sites with fly tipping. It was interesting to see the different stages of reclamation and growth – some parts with rubbish were almost completely embedded into the land with grass growing over the top and flowers poking out through any holes and crevices. Other parts were less grown over, and instead showed the beginnings of nature such as a bramble gently curling around a skip.
I also visited an old graveyard, which instead of being sinister actually had a very serene atmosphere – the graves were completely dominated by nature being allowed to grow over the tops and in some parts, trees were pushing through the grave completely. This became quite powerful for me to see as it made me realise how we as humans are very insignificant in the world; once we die, we become, in essence, compost for the ground and new life. We change physically from being a part of human nature to simply environmental nature.
I used my camera to take photographs of these scenes of nature growing over rubbish and abandoned land, and later edited them using Photoshop. The images were a combination of close ups and more distant shots; when reviewing the photographs later I realised I prefer the close up shots where the subject matter becomes slightly ambiguous and the viewer is forced to decipher what they are looking at.
I experimented with layering different filters and colourways on Photoshop – a filter I quite liked was called ‘Oil Paint’ where you could adjust the way the photograph appeared and make it look more like a painting. This stylistic approach suited one particular photograph more than others as it made the subject matter more romantic than you would expect fly-tipping to be.