Taking place in June 2018, Fruits of the Forest was the second of our Wild Sharing series of events for the Outdoor Institute of Art, led by artist and printmaker Claire Morris-Wright. The day focussed on foraging, mixing and processing the abundant natural resources of fruits and foliage available at our outreach centre Sudborough Green Lodge in Fermyn Woods. The fruits of the forest were later made into unique natural pestos and inks with which to create experimental prints.
Claire’s practice and experimental approach have been formed by her current Arts Council England funded project The Hedge, which uses a hedge located near to her home as a personal metaphor. Claire believes the value that hedges bring to many aspects of life, in both urban and rural environments, are often overlooked. These ‘living ecosystems’ are home to a chaotic natural order, which defines a variety of boundaries for both humans and animals. Claire uses all sources of material from the hedge itself to make inks for her prints, combining raw elements such as scraped lichen with direct textural rubbings from hedge surfaces.
While introducing her work, Claire revealed how the flaws, mistakes and folds in the natural materials are integral elements to the process, all of which contribute to the authenticity of her prints. These freeing thoughts were hugely inspirational to ethos of the workshop allowing participants to liberally add whatever looked texturally or colourfully appealing to their ink mixtures.
Concoctions were compiled in blenders and pestle and mortars, in varying degrees of fluidity, from lumpy to smooth. Large lumps, such as those from small apple buds, needed to be reduced down to enable them to fit under the press rollers but often produced surprise elements in both embossing power and in their liquid deposits on paper.
Throughout the day new ingredients were shared and recipes disseminated by participants into an abundance of variants. By the end of the day, the Sudborough Green Lodge site had produced a wide spectrum of colours simply from it’s own raw elements.
The Outdoor Institute of Art is an alternative art school conceived by Yasmin Canvin, with a curriculum which will consist of discussions, skills and knowledge sharing events between artists, experts in relevant fields, the arts sector and members of the public. With specific focus on artists using digital technology, artists working with Special Educational Needs students, a mentoring programme for early career artists, and a training programme for arts organisations to deliver outdoor education workshops.
The Outdoor Institute of Art will be delivered across 6 terms over 2 years, through a series of modules:
Wild Sharing workshops – a creative and social opportunity for informal skill and knowledge sharing.
Wild Learning workshops – conceptually led training session and activities for artists working outdoors.
Free Exchange discussions – discussions between an artist and an expert, exploring connections between art and the everyday.
Artist Talks – talks held at and led by the current artist in residence at Fineshade Wood.