Laura Harrington (b 1980 Mid Wales) is a North East based artist who is inspired by the natural world and how humans understand and interact with it. Working in multiple mediums, including film, drawing and installations Harrington puts a deep engagement with ecology and landscape at the heart of her practice and will often develop work in collaboration with organisations and individuals from specialist fields. Through her work Harrington seeks to open a dialogue with the viewer around our relationship with nature, our place in the world’s ecosystem and environmental issues. Her collaborators have included Jeff Warburton, Sarah Bouttell, Lee Patterson, Kaffe Matthews, Deborah Bower, Josephine Dickinson and Chris Watson.
In recent years works have developed from residency opportunities and working closely with conservation organisations and scientists, these include; a Leverhulme Trust Artist Residency with Dr Jeff Warburton in the Department of Geography at Durham University, Environment Agency, The North Pennines AONB Partnership, ISIS Arts, Joya:arte + ecologia. Recent exhibitions and commissions include works for; Woodhorn Museum, BALTIC 39, CIRCA Projects, Invisible Dust, VARC and AV Festival. She is currently undertaking a practice led PhD with the University of Northumbria.
FIELDWORK Q&A – November 2015
How is fieldwork part of your practice?
Spending time in the field has become an integral part of my practice – inextricably linked to studio work. It is where thoughts occur, where my mind wanders, where connections and understanding of process, land and landscape takes place. Sensory observations, recordings, documentation and field notes are taken. It is where I become part of the landscape for a period of time. Likewise the journey to the field is an important element – carrying different rhythms, terrains, sounds, feelings and moments and pauses.
Integral to my field work and research over the last few years has been the fortunate opportunity of working alongside experts who analyse and understand the landscape in question. The study of land through science enables a greater understanding beyond what is visually present and this knowledge is transformative, re-calibrating the aesthetic values and conceptual frame of a landscape. Field work allows opportunity for interesting exchanges and conversations, stimulated by immediate surroundings to take place.
Another important element is spending time in the field with other artists or collaborators. This typically happens once a project idea has been developed and an invitation to work with others takes place. Over the years this has involved extensive work with sound recordists – thinking about the physicality of sound from the landscape can be realised into something new.
How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
Early starts, long days, cold, warm, snowy, midge heavy, tiring, elongated, addictive, fun, challenging, cleansing, transient, changeable, inwards, intense, open minded, free flowing – being comfortable with the idea of getting lost (not geographically but in thought), focussed, visually intense.
How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
Through developing thoughts and work developed in the field into new work. The process of sharing my work in complex and unusual settings. Places that typically demand a commitment from the viewer – for example work has been shown in an upland bothy, a subterranean Norman chapel and a disused ventilation shaft in an old mine. Field work is integral – the work would not be the work without the field work. When talking about the work, field work is often discussed.
Layerscape (peat bogs)