As one printmaking project ends and I find myself looking for inspiration for the next, I become increasingly aware that experiences, learning and interests of past years are starting to be actively retrieved from the dusty archives of my memory. From my A-level years and through my B.Sc degree at Plymouth that followed, there was a common thread on the theme of Earth Science that ran through my further education.
Art unfortunately started to recede in importance after my A level years, but I cannot say it left entirely. Thinking back I am convinced that it manifested itself as an invisible driver of enthusiasm toward my more scientific studies, be that observing plant cells under a microscope, studying various vegetation types upon the wet and windswept hills of Dartmoor, gathering data on top of glaciers in the Swiss alps, and even the presentation of findings visually via charts, maps and even old computer-generated printouts. Although it was always exciting to learn and understand how various natural processes operated, be they botanical or geological, the visual impact and composition of the subject matter being studied was key to my thirst for learning, even though I may have been blissfully unaware of it at the time.
As I now spend more of my free-time taking myself on local countryside walks, I will often see something visually fascinating, perhaps worthy of a new sketch or print, which will then trigger a visual investigation which into why the object of study displays the features it does, and what the function of that feature is. This investigation may then literally zoom-in to a microscopic-level where references to beautifully stained microscopic slides reveal the functional building-blocks of the subject matter under observation. I am lucky that the small Leap Valley conservation area, behind my house has a rich variety of habitats, and therefore has great potential as an outdoor 'artistic lab' for some future projects in the new year. But now, I must get that old microscope out of the loft.