Members of Mesh Artists Collective are dispersed all over Scotland from the Western Isles to the Borders. Each participant in the forthcoming Earthworks Exhibition is working with soil and natural materials in their location, to produce a large scale collaborative installation. All the components will be brought together in the exhibition in at Patriothall Gallery, in Edinburgh, from 25th April to 3rd May.
Dorothy Jackson’s starting point for Earthworks was the peaty soils that are so common in the west coast. She first tried using peat itself, but it proved too heavy and inflexible to make a long hanging. So she worked with purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea), the commonest plant of the peat bog on her croft. In winter it forms a tussocks of pale yellow leaves bearing a haze of long flower stalks from the previous summer.
‘I extracted the plant fibres by retting the leaves in water, boiling them with wood ash or washing soda and then breaking up the fibres using a paddlebeater* and a household blender. I poured the fibres suspended in water into a 4.5 m long mould. When the sheet had dried out I lifted it off the mould.’
‘To produce this ‘natural’ piece required a large number of mass-produced items, from buckets and bowls to clamps, weighing scales and a blender. The process has made me reflect on the interplay between nature and industry in my art practice. I hope that viewers will nevertheless get a sense of the peaceful simplicity of swathes of purple moor grass swaying in the wind.’
* thank you to Chrissie Heughan for use of her paddlebeater and technical advice http://www.chrissieheughanpaper.co.uk
For further details of the Earthworks Exhibition please refer to our exhibitions and events page.