Seeing the Wood from the Trees: BA Fine Art Students from York St John University create artworks in response to Marton Wood

Understory by Sam Gargett, Lily Horton, Hannah Lukins and Ally Pulleyn

Seeing the Wood from the Trees was a York St John University Second Year BA Fine Art project in partnership with Chrysalis Arts Development. In April and May of this year we invited the students to visit and engage with Marton Wood.

‘Walking through the Wood and listening to the experts I was shown a new way of looking at a landscape I thought I was used to. Seeing what it needs to thrive and survive, the nature that lives within it, and what can disturb its progress and growth and survival and I wanted to show through my art a new way of looking at the wood, as this was my response to it to this I use adobe and isolate details of the wood and enlarge and edit them to bring attention back to the little details people miss as well as bringing attention to the invisible issues we face of air pollution.’

Artwork and statement by Shauna Morland

The project was led by David Haley, ecological artist, researcher, eco-pedagogue facilitated alongside our CPD Manager Carolyn Thompson and featured visits and talks with Ecologist Mark Hewitt and Artist Rebecca Chesney.

During the project students were asked to respond creatively to Marton Wood and to consider their artistic practice in the context of ecological issues. As a final outcome, they worked collaboratively in groups to create and contribute a digital work as a part of Chrysalis Arts’ broader Marton Wood project.

‘Collectively, what sparked our initial interest in the bluebells at Marton Wood above all else was their vibrancy and the way their heavily saturated pallet contrasted with the earth tones in the rest of the environment.

What solidified our interest in them, following this, was when we were informed on how easily British Bluebells breed out of existence. The Spanish Bluebell, we were told, is much more popular and consequently is the most commonly planted in gardens. However, the seeds of the Spanish bluebell easily hybridise with its British relative and consequently, the large body of solely British bluebells’

Art work and statement by Grace Blewitt, Jess Elsayghe and Vanshika Sonigra

Zine by Lucy Cole, Faith Malton, Isobel Pitts, Phoebe Harris Moore, Kate Jackson

Artwork by Mia Davies

Hues of Martonwood by Ella Scriven, Faith Noblet, Molly Owen. April Long, Tilly Jackson, Moya Mcgowan

‘For my piece of work for this project, I decided I wanted to keep it simplistic because when I took the trip to the wood, I found myself thinking how it was so peaceful and doesn’t connect to the chaos we see every day. By this, I am referring to the complexities of technology and unnatural things.’

Bronte Teal Manning

Artwork by Bronte Teal Manning

'Marton Wood provided an excellent location for students to compare and contrast life on a city campus with rural North Yorkshire. The students responded well to the challenges of working collaboratively in groups, with some exchanging and adapting their practices in response. The project was greatly invigorated by guest environmental artist, Rebecca Chesney and underpinned by Chrysalis’s Carolyn Thompson. As the project lead, I learned a lot from the students about their ‘post-COVID’ inter-communication and project coordination strategies, so the concept of ecology expanded from Mark Hewitt’s rich and enthusiastic introduction to the wood and the students’ social interactions. Their online projects present a great testament to their creativity and provide an excellent resource for the Marton Wood programme to build on.'

David Haley, Project Leader

Read more and view all of the artworks created on our Marton Wood project page and blog.

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