The earth stories of Nathalie Holbrook
The earth has stories to tell. The layers of sedimentary rock and rings of trees tell stories of time. The complex network of relationships between the earth and all of its inhabitants, sometimes indiscernible where they separate, is a constantly evolving tale. The artist is one kind of translator. Nathalie Holbrook is one such earth artist, her main materials culled from nature, wrapped up in her own experiences exploring the earth and its vast and varied terrain. Environmental materials such as tree bark, sticks, grasses, clay and stones are incorporated into ethereal compositions which in their delicacy manage, at the same time, to demonstrate their inherent robustness.
I discovered Nathalie's work when I met her at Interview Room 11's current show, of which she is a part, VERGES | The Wild Project (on through 17 May). I spent a couple of days painting walls for the exhibition but didn't see any of the work until the opening night and was particularly moved by her series of photographs set in a birch forest in which eerily beautiful constructions of long thin branches weave around and lean on trees like sleeping specters. The work was a result of a residency last summer in the Czech Republic as part of The Wild Project. I was moved enough to check out her website and previous work as well, and was instantly captivated by her work, and perhaps just as importantly, her process.
The experience of discovering the earth is a significant a part of the process of artistically interpreting that discovery--as significant as the actual creation of the pieces. The artist has extensively traveled around Europe and the North America, gathering stories and memorabilia. She writes:
As a gatherer and transitory writer of stories and encounters the root of the work is to uncover and assess its geological, ecological and sociological histories. To transform these collections and shape these histories, by adding something of my own time and energy to them.
I was particularly impressed with Sky Nest (below) which reflects Nathalie's interest in nesting as well as the concepts of permanence and temporality, comfort and the unknown. The form itself can be likened to a tree or even a cyclone, which in spite of the work's fragile individual pieces gives it power. More abstractly its dynamic appearance of spinning and moving apart represents ideas of the impermanence of nature, and of home.
With the Sky Nest... I began experimenting with the idea that this sense of belonging that we create in the materiality that we surround ourselves with can be transient, fleeting... momentary. A story of home is eternal.
Originally from Edinburgh, Nathalie earned her BA in Fine Art Photography from Glasgow School of Art in 2013. After spending some time studying in Vancouver at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, traveling around Alaska and Hawaii as well as much of Europe, she is currently again in Edinburgh.
Check out NathalieHolbrook.comfor further information, news and rich gallery images, plus her writings.