Hinterlands | Dawn Felicia Knox

Archive Shelf Location BALTIC2022M
Publication Date 27 Oct 2022

The Felling (2022) explores deep time, pollution and the way plants work together to undo the toxic residue of industrialisation. This is investigated through one plot of land in Felling, Gateshead, which was a swamp during the Carboniferous period, a working mine during the industrial revolution and is now a contaminated brownfield site.

In 2012, Knox began studying plant fossils excavated from Felling Colliery, held at the Great North Museum. Some were type specimens, the first of their kind to be seen by humans, which helped geologists to discover the actual age of the Earth. Knox then documented the site the fossils came from by photographing a stand of trees that had grown twisted and gnarled as they struggled for purchase on the coal spoil heaps.

Felling has had years of natural plant succession atop the piles of slag and concrete. In 2021–22, Knox filmed the plants now growing on the site. Bracken fern, white poplar, willow, annual honesty, fireweed and mugwort are just a few of the plants that have self-seeded in the once wasteland. Many of the plants use a process of phytoremediation, working to pull pollution from the soil while others are nitrogen fixing, pulling greenhouse gasses from the air.

From this work created over the last decade, Knox has made two films that are simultaneously projected onto a series of makeshift screens. The layers of material attempt to contain the shifting images as they bleed through and spill over leaving the viewer to sift through the fragments of time.

Sound artist Anastasia Clarke has created the soundscape from field-recordings of the site broken down and reconfigured.

Format MPEG 4
Related Artist Dawn Felicia Knox
Category Group Exhibition/Multiple Artists
Keywords BALTIC Level 3: Art Space, Ecosystems, Landscapes, Care, Time, Custodianship, Flora (plants), Coal mining, phytoremediation
Related Cities/Regions North East (of England), Gateshead
Related Event Hinterlands (22 October 2022 – 30 April 2023)
Related Gallery BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

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