I was first introduced to Bideford Black by artist Pete Ward, who I met in 2013, to explore and find naturally occurring minerals on the shore line of the North Devon coast at Fremington Quay. Pete demonstrated how to gather and use raw materials in a creative and free way connecting us to our very origins.
Pete had researched the history of this geologically unique mineral here; http://bidefordblack.blogspot.com/p/history.html.
The history of this material is fascinating and worth learning about, the use of Bideford Black as camouflage equipment during the war and Max Factor making mascara for example.
Nearly ten years later, the genesis of an approach has now grown to be part of my established practice. I still have jars of raw mineral pigments such as Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, White Clay and Grey that I have used in larger works.
The act of walking to a site to draw is just the beginning of a work. A crucial element is to sit and observe with all the senses, taking in the landscape and the changes the seasons have made. In making a visual dialogue with the landscape I have walked to the same spots on many occasions, meeting inquisitive walkers sometimes or enjoying the solitude of time and place.
This process of walking, observing and the initiation of a drawing with what is found at my feet, really does give me a connection to a place. The small sketches I make act like a conduit for bringing “the moment” back to the studio with me.
There are also materials that I have gathered that are site specific and which are used as tools.
Having made some sketches and gathered any materials that I may wish to continue using in my studio. I often make a small natural intervention to honour Mother Nature’s simple kindness.
Then it is time to return to the studio and continue the visual journey.