Living in an urban centre, I am constantly reminded of a desire to be in nature. Realizing that nature is something we create within ourselves and within our city limits (and outside of them with park lands and resorts etc.) allows me to find a sense of harmony and relief with my daily routine and activities. I cannot say that I am fed only by the immediacy of the world around, it is difficult to say; history must be a huge part of it, holding as much relevance and influence as my environment. It is, without question though, that I am encouraged to comment about the human experience within the urban centre, the city in a constant state of flux and the struggle between city and nature.

As an observer, I am passive and do at times need to consciously inhabit an observational position, stepping back to take it all in. I feel I become an active participant when back in the studio expressing my views through my work. While sitting on concrete steps in the park near my studio, I am often overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine from the waterfall, the orange caps of used needles that become part of the springtime flower beds, the acidic smell of urine coming from the undergrowth by the benches. Dogs and kids play here. People sit and have lunch as another shoots up under a nearby willow tree. The grieving man under the weeping willow tree is as real as is my response to his suffering. The water is real but the chlorine makes it un-drinkable. The grass is real but it is sprayed with toxins. The ironic sense of beauty here effects me deeply. My sense of nature is a distorted one, but agonizingly beautiful in its own right. This parody of nature is not a parody after all, but ironically true to itself. I find harmony and balance in my work when exploring these opposing and conflicting elements.

Fuzzy plants, rose bushes, junkies’ maps, roadways and waterfalls; The energy of the place has a serene quality, peaceful enough for ducks to swim beside fake rocks in the shallow end of the pool where graffiti artists were present the night before. I cannot separate myself from my surroundings and visit my self in this park every day. This is my landscape, my nature, my fascination, my inspiration. My attempt to pull this information into my work is a statement of the importance of capturing truthful moments.

Photo © Julia Brandreth


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