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Exploring the Relationship between Art and the Environment

One of the most significant environmental issues of our time is climate change, which has become a focal point for many artists. Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, is one such figure whose installations often explore the relationship between humans and nature. His 2018 exhibition, "Ice Watch," involved placing twelve large ice blocks in public spaces around London, where they slowly melted over several days. The installation aimed to draw attention to the rapid melting of the polar ice caps and the impact of global warming on the planet.

Maya Lin, a Chinese-American artist, has also explored environmental issues in her work. Her sculpture and memorial pieces have contributed significantly to the discourse on biodiversity and the impact of human activity on the environment. Her piece, "What is Missing?" is a multi-sensory installation that includes a website, a book, and several installations around the world. The work aims to highlight the loss of biodiversity due to human activity and to inspire action to protect the environment.

These artists and many others are using their creative skills to generate conversations about environmental issues and inspire action. Through their works, they challenge viewers to confront the reality of our changing planet and take responsibility for addressing environmental challenges. Whilst installations and multimedia works such as these are one side of how artists are engaging with issues around climate change, even more traditional practices can provide starting points for this important social conversation and landscape artist Kerry Johnstone is doing just this.

In her current exhibition, Johnstone's focus is on "Trees, Rocks and Moor", which reflect her appreciation for these natural resources. Having lived in Malawi, Johnstone has witnessed the devastation that comes with high population, reliance on wood for fuel, and unreliable rainfall patterns. Her work celebrates trees, particularly those that dominate the landscape and can be seen from far away, such as the ancient, twisted oaks of Wistman's Wood. Rocks, with their shapes and interesting plant life, continue to fascinate her. And finally, the Moor, particularly Dartmoor, provides an incredible opportunity for people to reconnect with nature. It's a haven for wildlife and probably the closest we can get to "wilderness" in this part of the world. Through her art, Johnstone seeks to highlight the importance of preserving these natural resources for future generations.

Art has the potential to inspire and motivate people in ways that words alone cannot. By utilizing their creativity to draw attention to environmental issues, contemporary artists are making an essential contribution to ongoing dialogues about the planet's future. As we confront the challenges of environmental degradation, we can look to the works of artists such as Kerry, for inspiring action to a more sustainable future.

You can discover Kerry's work at Artizan Gallery in their May 2023 "Natural World" showcase alongside works of embroidery artist Chloë Morter. For more information, visit



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