Laura Harrington (Wales,1980) is an artist based in the North East of England. Her work operates across mediums – moving image, drawing, installation, printed matter and sound – often in multi-disciplinary research and collaborative ways. She has a specific interest in geomorphology and the field of physical geography to create works which centre around an idea of upstream consciousness. Drawing on artistic fieldwork activities and its discursive material potential to investigate complex relations and interdependencies involved in our experience and understanding of landscape and ecology.
Over recent years Laura has developed dialogues with other artists, ecologists and physical scientists among specific landscapes and these discussions form the bedrock of a process-based enquiry. Recent work developed through a Leverhulme Trust Residency with Jeff Warburton in the Department of Geography at Durham University explored erosion within peat as a means to consider our relationship to seemingly mundane and viscous matter.
Laura has exhibited widely through exhibitions and events in the UK and Europe. Her work and activities have been supported through a range of residencies and commissions funded by arts councils, foundations, cultural and academic institutions, regional arts organisations and environmental agencies. Recent exhibitions and residencies include Projections (Tyneside Cinema), UNIDEE/Cittadellarte (Italy), MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), Hangmen Projects (Stockholm), HIAP (Helsinki International Arts Programme), Durham University (Department of Geography/Leverhulme), Invisible Dust, Woodhorn Museum, BALTIC 39, VARC, AV Festival (UK), and Joya:arte + ecologia (Spain). She is currently an AHRC funded practice-based PhD candidate with BxNU at Northumbria University investigating artists’ fieldwork activities with ‘boggy ecologies’ to generate new ecological, spatial and material understandings.
FIELDWORK Q&A – October 2020
How is fieldwork part of your practice?
Fieldwork is an integral part of my practice – inextricably linked to studio work. For the last ten years I have been working with Moor House Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve in northern England which has a rich history of exploration and research carried out by the fields of physical geography and environmental science. Whether it has involved the making of new work, building a cinema in a bothy, sharing this place with others, collaborating with scientists or camping, my relationship to the notion of fieldwork has evolved from the long-term work that I have developed and presented there. Fieldwork is not a term and a context of negotiation that happens ‘elsewhere’. Rather for me it is a dynamic and changeable creative medium, grounded on negotiation with great discursive material potential.
How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
My work draws from the fields of geomorphology and physical geography, which has led me to remote and isolated places that influence, sustain and effect where the majority of us humans live. Places such as uplands, bogs, mires and peatlands, ‘boggy ecologies’, that help me to consider how we might perceive relationships between humans and environment. For me fieldwork is about being open to noticing it all. Working through the contrasting combinations of my body as artist and the field, seeing and working through how we might come together temporarily as a collective body and what happens in that encounter and space. Whether it is about listening, moving, repeating, boredom, enduring, eating, digesting, walking or staying dry fieldwork is ultimately a relational practice that includes complex and performative acts of engagement.
How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
Currently fieldwork for me manifests through artworks, exhibitions, residencies, live events as well as initiatives that bring together practitioners from the fields of art, science and conservation often in unexpected locations and outside contexts. I also enjoy sharing fieldwork through printed matter (artists books and Risograph prints) as well as through workshops with adults and children, live events and talks. A recent fieldwork sharing was through an artist camp at Moor House NNR, where a group of artists explored collective fieldwork experiences and methods as part of a process of shooting a new moving image work Fieldworking.