Nurture Your Nature: Edward Burtynsky Corrupted Landscapes


oct1seakelpl2tDear Laura,

We survived our first hurricane evacuation and thankfully had minimal damage to our home.  I am grateful that our neighbors are doing fine as well.  One thing about Charleston, SC is that we all ban together in hard times.  It is a great feeling to be a part of such a wonderful city.

Since I had some down time, I began to think about how artist’s are affected by nature. I watched the video you posted in your last letter about how the landscape inspires artist Norman Ackroyd.  I always enjoy seeing artists process so this was great! Given that nature is the center to much of our artwork,  I would like to delve a little deeper into our human impact on the planet as it stands today.

A week ago I was creating the drawing posted above while listening to a podcast Art & Ideas produced by BBC Radio 3.  The episode is called Free Thinking: Energy and Landscape with Edward Burtynsky (photographer) and Ella Hickson (playwright). As I was drawing the sea kelp (collected when I visited you this summer) I started thinking about how important the arts are to bringing serious topics such as industrial interventions to the earth’s landscape and it’s consequences (intended or unintended).

There is so much to explore on Edward’s WEBSITE.  He tackles oil, water, mines, quarries, China, ship breaking, urban mines, tailings, railcuts, homesteads, and early landscapes.  He has books, documentaries, and a famous TED talk.

His work is a mirror upon what is happening today that we otherwise may not see.  In this time of obnoxious politicians and our current ridiculous presidential election it is easy to lose sight on what is actually happening to our planet right now.  You can’t argue with Edward’s photographs.  People are impacting the earth in massive ways.

Here are some excerpts from The Guardian about his work.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-28-49-amMorenci Mine #1, Clifton, Arizona, USA, 2012        Burtynsky turns romantic notions of landscape painting and photography on their heads, reminding us that nature isn’t eternal, but malleable under the guiding hand of humanity – and perhaps we’re making things worse.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-30-50-amColorado River Delta #10, abandoned shrimp farms, Sonora, Mexico, 2012      In an interview with the Guardian today, the photographer explains his work: ‘We’re at a critical moment in history where we’re starting to hit the thresholds of human expansion and the limits of what this planet can sustain. We’re reaching peak oil, peak fish, peak beef – and the evidence is all there to see in the landscape’

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-34-21-amColorado River Delta #8, Salinas, Baja, Mexico, 2012      In an essay accompanying the new book Essential Elements, William A Ewing writes: ‘While Burtynsky respectfully acknowledges our collective accomplishments, he reminds us of the steep price we pay for unbridled material wealth’.

Perhaps we can all agree to dig a little deeper and pay attention to what our presidential candidates are saying related to the environment.  Our future literally depends on it.




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