ATTITUDE TOWARDS ENCOUNTERING NATURE
I first started to think about my relationship with nature when my father bought a house located in rural New Zealand. My family and I found that we spent more time looking through the window at the picturesque view of foliage and the sea than spending time outside in the natural area that was below the window. My father eventually cleared this area and replanted the yard with fruit trees, flower plants and easy to grow vegetables, making it a functional space for my family. It was because of this that I began to think about how much nature has been adapted to cater for the contemporary lifestyles of human beings. The preference to view nature from indoors rather than spending time outside without modern comforts intrigued me.
In 2018, I undertook a short residency in Mongolia to produce works for the Land Art Mongolia 5th Biennial and I again, questioned my relationship to nature. After immersing myself in the natural surroundings, I realized that the look and shape of the landscape was due in part to influences such as the local culture and the urban contemporary lifestyle.
Because I was raised in an urban city, my experience of nature was limited and often human-made. My daily experience included walking through a cleared route in the national park, or experiencing patches of grass beside the concrete slabs which formed a footpath.
In Mongolia, it’s very common to see large rocks, stones and different trees embellished with colourful traditional ceremonial scarves known as Khadag, even in the middle of nowhere. The contrast of these dynamic colours with the monotonous dry greys and browns in the natural environment fascinated me. The khadag is a signifier of importance, used to transform an item in nature into a sacred spiritual statue. People are often found praying in front of these spiritual objects of significance. As a city-dweller, I found myself more drawn to the vibrancy of the colours, and the way these artificial out of place colours elevated natural objects.
Attitude towards encountering nature is a culmination of these ideas through my personal perspective. I hadn’t thought about how I was consuming nature until I was in an earthly habitat that I was unfamiliar with. In my practice, I combine materials that wouldn’t normally be harmonious together, much like the khadag in Mongolia. Yet at the same time, I like to play with materials as a way of making sense of nature, as a way of making it appealing to myself. Through synthetic materials like artificial grass, faux fur, neon lights and tree branches cut from my father’s place in Paihia, I have essentially designed a kind of ‘nature’ that suits my own needs.