Artist Highlight: Christopher Drury
Chris Drury is an environmental artist, creating site-specific nature based sculpture, often referred to as Land Art or Art in Nature. Drury also work in art and Science, making installations inside and creating works on paper. He also works with maps, digital and video art, and works with mushrooms.
Dury’s work creates connections between different phenomena in the world, specifically between Nature and Culture, Inner and Outer and Microcosm and Macrocosm. He collaborates with scientists and technicians from a broad spectrum of disciplines and uses whatever visual means, technologies and materials best suit the situation.
Tell us a little about your background as an artist.
I trained as figurative artist at Camberwell School of Art in London in the 60’s. I made a living for a while making portrait heads in Bronze of CEO’s.
In the 70’s I met Hamish Fulton (a British walking artists, who has created works based on the experience of walks. He translated his walks into a variety of media, including photography, illustrations, and wall texts) through my dentist, and started walking with him in the Rockies. This really started my thinking about making art solely about nature and experiences of and in nature.
Where are you based now and how would you describe what you do?
I live near Lewes in Sussex, UK – south of London. I make art about nature. Sometimes this means going to a place and responding to a brief – responding to the place and making something in that place with materials easily available. Or I might work with a scientist on a shared interest – astronomy, physics, climate change, biodiversity, complexity etc. I will then use whatever means and material, best suited for that context. This could be as diverse as a video, a work on paper, a digital photo work – whatever is appropriate. These works end up being shown in exhibitions, while the former remain in place. The advantage of the former is that you have nothing to store and are paid at the point of design or making. You can do without the dealer and middleman.
Describe the technical process you use to create your work.
With the works outside it always depends on what it is, but usually there is a design phase, then when that is agreed I put together a team of professionals – such as landscape gardeners or dry stone wall builders. Sometimes the design and construction is all rolled into one, so there is no site visit and I often get a day or so to decide what to make. In both cases I use intuition, then experience and know-how kicks in to understand how to realise an emerging idea. With works on paper, videos and installations I experiment in a studio. Then go to professionals to help me make the final works
You describe yourself as an environmental artist? What is the relationship between your work and nature?
Other people put those labels on me, I don’t start with that premise, I start with where I am, a human being in nature, with a relationship to that nature. So really what I do is to explore my relationship to nature outside and my own nature inside.
Would you say that your art is purpose-driven? If so, what do you aim to accomplish through your creative expression?
John Cage described the purposefulness of purposelessness. I would agree with that; my work has no purpose than to be what it is.
What do you hope you art communicates to those who come into contact with it?
If you start with context, using your intuition allow that place or whatever, to suggest a form and material. Then a way to work with those things becomes apparent, if it is also driven by care for the environment and a love and connection to nature then you make something, which has harmony. In which case a work of art need not set out to communicate anything, rather it has a life and language of its own.
Which environmental issues and causes are you most passionate about?
Our connection to other species and how we treat them and all people. The use of fossil fuels and its effect on a warming planet. Of course all these things are interrelated, so really I am most concerned with humans disconnect to nature.
Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions that you’d like to share with us?
I am planning a work in Sri Lanka and then there are a number of projects for which I am waiting on final agreements.