FIGURE TWO: WEEK 5: Laura Harrington (01)

FIGURE TWO: WEEK 5: Laura Harrington (01)
Archive Shelf Location Disc 910
Publication Date 04 Sep 2014

Laura Harrington: A Lively Sense of Nature

For BALTIC 39 FIGURE TWO, Laura Harrington presents a series of new works in progress, which all explore her interpretation of a ‘lively sense of nature’. The works are made in response to an immersive and intimate relationship with a particular and otherwordly landscape around fifty miles from her city centre home. The site, Moss Flats, is an upland bare peat flat undergoing scientific monitoring in the North Pennines. These are moments of stasis in thinking from the first few months of a year-long Leverhulme Trust artist residency with Dr Jeff Warburton in the Department of Geography at Durham University.

Working across a variety of media Laura Harrington’s practice responds to the uplands of the North Pennines and the wider surroundings of Northumberland. Over the years this has involved a deep engagement with ecology and landscape and extensive integrated research within specific environments, from the current work taking place on peatlands, to previous research into salmon migration on the River Tyne.

In Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2010), theorist Jane Bennett explores a philosophical understanding of places, materials and networks. Within the text, Bennett describes a ’liveliness of matter’ and a political awareness of the inter-connectivity of human and non-human elements. Through her work Harrington offers a moment of re-engagement and reconnection with landscapes that are often forgotten and elusive, encouraging the viewer to explore the incredible, dynamic processes taking place behind the surface stillness. Drawing comparisons between Bennett’s research: ‘matter’ (it, things) and ‘vibrant matter’ (us, beings), with the substance of her work ‘nature’ (landscape, environment) Harrington has collaborated with Dr Jeff Warburton in order to explore how we might have a greater connection and engagement with the natural world.

A Child of its Time is a video work in which the artist uses Moss Flats as an exploratory playground for her fifteen month-old son to investigate, framing a natural and sensory response to environment. Referencing Henri-Louis Bergson’s philosophy, which examined ‘a latent belief in the spontaneity of nature’, the unbridled intuition of the child makes a claim for both the delight and the importance of creating and nurturing a fresh and engaged relationship with nature.

The living energy and decay of Moss Flats, characterised by the anthropomorphic forms of the tussocks and haggs, hold a sense of the unknown and mystical, which is captured in Hagg # 1 and Hagg # 2. These two intricate drawings are taken from a series that examines eroding forms within peatland landscapes though the process of drawing and transformation, offering the viewer an intensified relationship with the landscape through handmade marks. In the series Vegetation Blankets 1-3, the artist takes the vulnerable, eroding hagg forms at Moss Flats and carefully recreates the layers of vegetation they support in felt. As the process of wet felting always has an element of chance and the time spent pulling, tweaking and agitating the wool changes its structural integrity, the artist references the transition of the peatlands themselves, as they constantly morph and decay.

Credit Colin Davison
Copyright © BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Format JPEG
Related Artist Laura Harrington
Month September 2014
Related Event FIGURE TWO (6 August - 7 September 2014)
Related Gallery BALTIC’s project space at BALTIC 39, Newcastle upon Tyne

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