Art Therapy and Ecology 4

January 17, 2018

gallaccio_1 1990_240px_collage_nt_01 100106f1

Photos from Top to Bottom: Anya Gallaccio ‘That Open Space Within”, herman de vries ‘Forest Collage’ and David Nash ‘Ash Dome Drawing’

“Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the life-blood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just material in itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave these processes continue.” (Andy Goldsworthy)

Why Art in Nature? The purpose of art making in nature is to experience the natural environment as an outdoor studio and to work with living art materials. It’s an opportunity to explore working with both found natural materials that make marks (i.e. mud, grass, berries, flowers, and charcoal) and to also investigate working with larger sculptural forms that evoke the idea of shelter within forest habitats. Equally, the acts of walking and collecting can be understood as important artistic practices.

Collected objects from nature can be assembled into displays where textures, colours and patterns are highlighted. Since natural materials gradually decompose photography, sketching and writing can be used to document artworks made in the forest. The nature studio offers many experiences to perceive ecology, and to structure these perspectives into a variety of artworks that will explore lines, shapes, dimensions, and patterns found in the natural world. Land Art is an intriguing form of contemporary art which works within a variety of natural environments, transforming living materials into distinct compositions. Nature is unpredictable and constantly changing – these are also the features of environmental art made outdoors within different kinds of habitats.

“I use the world as I find it…A sculpture I’ve made along the way is a sort of celebration of that place, of me being there at that time in that state of mind. It’s a record of that moment in my life.” (Richard Long)

goldsworthy 0fca2b76f62568a65e336dfb88311de5

Photos: Andy Goldsworthy, ‘Sticks in River’ (Top) David Nash ‘Ash, Branch, Cube’ (Below)

What is Land Art? Land art is usually made in relation to a specific landscape or location, using collections of natural materials found on site. Land art can be left within the landscape, to be affected by the elements, or it can be transported into a studio space or gallery. This form of art is subject to change, it is ephemeral subject to decay and the impact of ecological processes including the effects of weather. Land Art can also incorporate walking, as a way of drawing upon the landscape. Walking artists consider forest paths to be like lines of drawing, a way of making one’s mark by foot, or taking a line for a walk. Walking artists Richard Long and Hamish Fulton use collections of words to illustrate their journeys through landscapes. Long uses the term textworks to describe the way individual words can encapsulate the essence of nature walks.

gold_rowanlevs fulton-300x274   rl__a_line_made_by_walking_1967 16

Photos from top to bottom: Andy Goldsworthy ‘Rowan Leaves with Hole’, Hamish Fulton ‘Rock, Fall, Echo, Dust”, Chris Drury ‘Shimanto River Sphere’, and Richard Long ‘A Line Made By Walking’

I want an intimate physical connection with the earth. I must touch. I take nothing out with me in the way of tools, glue or rope, preferring to explore the natural bonds and tensions that exist within the earth. The season and weather conditions determine to a large extent what I make. I enjoy relying on the seasons to provide new materials. (Andy Goldsworthy)

What Kinds of Natural Materials can be used for Land Art? Charcoal (collected from abandoned campfires), Berries, Grass, Mud, Seed Heads, Leaves, Moss. Pine Cones, Pine Needles, Roots, Weeds, Flowers, Stones, Logs, Bark and Branches

Day-to-Day_SUB-1 childhood-dreams-590

Photos: A Textwork by Richard Long ‘Day to Day’ (Top) and Patrick Dougherty ‘Childhood Dreams’  (Bottom)

I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn. (Andy Goldsworthy)


Vincent 1

Photos of Art Therapy Bundles, Made from Branches, Felt, Fibre Materials



Top Photo: Miguel Angel Blanco, ‘Library of the Forest’, nature collections in wooden “book” boxes that are journals of his walking journeys.

The idea of a book being a collection of objects that are ideas, moments of time, a landscape, and movements held within a box vessel, can be a vital medium of artistic practice within art therapy. A walk can be taken alone or accompanied by others, either can become documented as an art therapy journey that involves the surrounding habitat as living studio.  The words of thought and feeling held within the significance of objects selected, illustrate and enact a psychological quest. This is a language of wandering and finding significance in what is close at hand. The book is an installation that can be handled and read in many ways. Time is contained within the dimensions of the book’s architecture. The composition of the book, reveals itself as a structural building, a home place for an ephemeral story.

Websites for Inspiration 

  1. Green Museum The Online Museum of Environmental Art
  2. Women’s Eco Artist’s Dialog
  3. Chris Drury
  4. herman de vries 
  5. Richard Long 
  6. Hamish Fulton 
  7. Patrick Dougherty 
  8. Also Search online for Artist Anya Gallaccio

Materials and Preparation List 

Fully charged camera phone or camera for photography

Sketch book or notebook for drawing, for imprints of natural materials, creative writing, and ideas you wish to take away from the workshop

Pencils and pens, graphite, charcoal or pastels for drawing and writing in sketchbook

Tape for attaching foraged items into sketchbook

Containers or bags for foraged items. These materials can be used for artworks after the workshop.



Photos: Collections of nature by artist herman de vries



Photo: A print of a tree trunk and a drawing of a forest walk

16_11_2011_417 16_11_2011_419

Photos: Ecole du cloitre Vic sur Seille, Les Photos de Marc Pouyet


Photo: Kriss MacDonald, “My Botanical Desk – Winter Nature Diary” 

IMG_6279 photo-120 photo-124

Photos: Shelters Made in a Ravensdale Forest, County Louth


Photo: Nils-Udo ‘The Nest’


Photo: Chris Drury ‘Pine Circle, Cone Sphere’

garden1 jarman-3-008

Photo: Derek Jarman photographed by Terry O’Neill (The Guardian)

Derek Jarman (1942-1994) was an English film director, artist, writer, stage designer and gardener. His garden journals, reflections and nature based artworks are profiled in his book Derek Jarman’s GardenWritten before his death the book crusades the proliferation of personality in every garden, rather than codification and regulation. Out of a shore composed of flint and shingle, and near a nuclear power station in Dungeness, Kent, Jarman created a gardening legacy that acts as a stage for not only his own personal experiences, but a catalyst for the pursuits of others who follow his example. An activist opposed to lawns, garden chemicals and the dictation of order, Jarman encouraged a garden’s anarchy and wild abandon. His garden was without borders and conventions, extending in all directions and inwards to meet the realities of landscapes both human and natural. His home, a restored fishing cottage, became his sanctuary and studio for forays into various forms of contemplation and artistic enterprise. The garden is still today infused with the magic of surprise. “I saw it as a therapy and a pharmacopoeia” (Derek Jarman), its essential nature to assist with the experiencing of life cycles.


Photo: Derek Jarman’s Garden

“Derek Jarman gave his garden a certain narrative; perhaps he treated it a bit like a film or theatre set. His films were visionary, eccentric, romantic and rebellious, all of which could also be said about his garden. The plants were distinct players in the action…He put wild with cultivated, made art out of rubbish and declared the garden a gallery where nature played the most important part. He sought refuge in his garden, but chose a setting with no boundaries, where everything is an edge: shingle, sea, sun, wind all shifting and changing…It is a weird and wonderful place, but in many ways humble: a small house, a tiny garden, yet the maker showed us all how wild and brilliant our own spaces can be if we’re prepared to look sympathetically at the landscape around us, to make room for the flotsam and weeds in life as much as the jewels.” (Alys Fowler, “Gardens: Planting on the Edge in Derek Jarman’s Garden”, The Guardian, September, 24, 2014


Photo Source: Gardenista


Photo Source: Kriss MacDonald, Derek Jarman’s Garden


Photo: of Marie Lorenz by San Suzie, C-Monster Website by Carolina A. Miranda

My belief is that uncertainty brings about a heightened awareness of place. When we feel unstable we see more (Marie Lorenz, Artist Statement, MoMA Studio Visit)

Marie Lorenz is an artist who carries people in her water taxi to explore shorelines, tides and currents. She is a waterborne artist offering people the opportunity to float along the shores of New York in a wooden row boat that maneuvers through overlapping realties. Her art is concerned with observation, collection, and navigation. It is about physically entering the environment, being in relationship to oneself, and responding simultaneously to urban and nature based habitats.





Photos: Row Boot and Roots (Artist Marie Lorenz, Tide and Current Taxi Project)

Article: “All the Fun of the Fair” by Julie Belcove, The Financial Times, Saturday, May 3, 2014

Her water taxi has become a performative art work, a way to meet people and transport them to new places. The view from the water allows the imagination to wander, it is a moving encounter with skylines and shorelines. It is foremost a time out, a launching into a different kind of space that encourages reverie and suspended action.

In 2012 Marie Lorenz led boat trips to discover derelict pieces of materials floating and gathering along shorelines. Her tours were a discovery of “wrecked things or places left to waste” ( A search for nature littered with debris, a connection between what pollutes, and what has become polluted. A situation made by currents and tides collecting and bringing together opposing realties, a layering of what has been lost, discarded and outcast.

When the water rises during a storm and pulls objects into the harbour, the tide acts like a giant centrifuge, reorganizing things according to their shape and density. I collect and record the objects as another way to collaborate with the tide. I want to preserve the mystery of each discovery, like beachcombing, or finding a hidden treasure (Marie Lorenz, Artist Statement,

Working along the margins of different realities is a vital aspect of art therapy. A searching for what has been thrown away (or what has floated adrift) within the currents that compose a life. Art therapy collects partial objects and unbinds situations where there are layers of unwanted things. It is a means of sorting and identifying the value of what has been entangled in the ebb and flow of time.


Photo: New York Today: An Island of Art, New York Times City Room Blog


Tide and Current Taxi

Marie Lorenz




The Drawing of a Journey

February 22, 2014


Photo: The Walking Piece, Matthias Sperling and Siobhan Davies Studios, London


Photo: Practice Ireland, Day Away for Artists Working with Children, Masking Tape Workshop, Map of Encounters

map = picture, sketch, design, plan, print, drawing, tracing, portrayal, depiction, projection, delineation, diagram, arrangement

Drawing upon a journey documents passages across both familiar and unfamiliar places, encountering geography, landmarks and people along the way. Tracking and marking one’s travels can become a record of activity and a personal reflection.  A map can depict investigations of personal and social spaces meeting and implicating each other. The act of mapping can also sketch out the performative aspect of walking, the interrogation of mind, body and situation through intentional rites and rituals.


Illustration: Finding a Way Around, Poetry Map, Ravensdale Forest, County Louth, Ireland

Sketches of geography can become a personal archive of walks. Combined with words they become examples of visual poetry that transcribe experiences into drawn lines of travel. The depiction of a path does not map out a destination, but portrays what you think about as you trace over a byway. Words accompany steps, and paths are the accumulation of many people’s routes through landscapes that define walking trails and a history of footsteps.


Photo: Katie Holten, It Started On the C Train

Usually I’m on the move, and I started to crochet on the subway making circular shapes that were like a drawing accompanying my journey. I collected a bundle of crochet doodles, all made from a simple chain stitch and connected them together. The bundles of crocheted ‘maps’ can be displayed and assembled in different ways (Katie Holten, It Started on the C Train, Irish Museum of Modern Art)


Photo: Letter from Poland, Photo by Clare Moloney

A pedestrian’s language can speaks about rights of way, getting lost, and finding something by chance.

Making one’s way through streets and landscape can mark time and map lines of encounter. It can involve familiarity, deviation, and wandering around in circles. The drawing of a map can be instinctual, not so much a fact, but a kind of imaginative possibility. Mapping is plotting lines of habit and discovering new situations.

Getting lost is not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind who you are, who others think you are. (Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost)


Photo: Nobutaka Aozaki, Here to There, Hand Drawn Maps of New York

Mapping journeys and drawing upon space can be an evocative way of sharing stories in art therapy. Lines marking land or noting the surfaces of pavement and urban spaces represent the meeting of identity and context. Personal maps, as part of a journal, record ordinary life and departures from the everyday. They mark out patterns of movement and spur of the moment impulses, together encompassing the diversity of an individual trying to find their way in life.


Photo: Fiona Robinson, Mapping Space


Photo: Kathy Prendergast, City Drawings, London


Katie Holten,

Walking and Art: A Blog About the Uses of Walking in Art

Walk of the Week: Walking Through Modern and Contemporary Art Practice

Karen O’Rourke, Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost