Zoe Benbow’s paintings aim to communicate a sense of awe and enjoyment in landscape, as a means of questioning our cultural construct of wilderness and our relationship to the natural world. The images are developed from drawings made ‘in the field’, yet by an intense engagement with the processes of painting and studio practice, the resulting canvases become as much a meditation on geology of association and memory as of an actual place.
Benbow’s experience of walking and drawing in landscape is that everything – light, wind, vegetation and stones – are shifting, sliding, moving with every moment. Contrary to the quest for achieving long distance or summit she enjoys meandering, searching, looking and often bizarrely napping and dreaming in protected hollows. Exploring a micro–macro dynamic, she is interested in the experience of landscape as intimate and surrounding as opposed to distancing and remote.
FIELDWORK Q&A – March 2016
How is fieldwork part of your practice?
I love to take the opportunity to walk and draw in landscape, it’s an enjoyable thing to do – to be alone – to contemplate our ‘natural’ environment and our relationship to it. Being from the UK, my understanding is intrinsically shaped by western cultural attitudes and experience, but at a time of environmental crisis it feels important to challenge basic assumptions and look again at the way in which we interact with the world about us.
How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
Drawing in the landscape is a way of slowing down, stopping, searching, a way of being still – much as I imagine the appeal of fishing! Drawing becomes a record of our experience in real time and involves an editorial process not possible in photography. I delight in drama and densely folded knots in the landscape, ravines, rocks and cliffs and the consequent drawings are analytical and highly structured. Time is implied through the rhythm of the drawn line trailing the eye across the contours of the landscape.
How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
Fieldwork gathered informs paintings made in the studio and work is disseminated through exhibitions and online.