Common is the ground we stand on, and perhaps what is now taking place is a shift in our own aesthetics, based on that common knowledge that is helping us to see and appreciate our landscape through subtly different filters. Increasingly gone are the clipped landscapes and instead here are the swathes of wildness along with a new appreciation for the interconnectedness of soil and plant; the seen and the unseen. That material has become in a word, more beautiful, or perhaps our sense of beauty has been opened up to it, we have learned to love a different idyll.
The value of art as an advocate for Nature was central to the work of Common Ground, the pioneering art and environmental charity that is also a touchstone for this exhibition. Established in 1983 by Roger Deakin, Sue Clifford and Angela King, it attempted to sound the klaxon about where our negligence was leading, long before most people cared. The mission of the organisation was to work closely with artists, writers, poets, playwrights and music-makers – bringing together art and science in a way that is now widely promulgated, but in those days seemed almost anarchic.
The artists presented in this show – Hannah Brown, Chris Drury, Laurence Edwards, Shaun Fraser, Lydia Halcrow, Tyga Helme, Kurt Jackson, Chrystel Lebas, Yan Wang Preston, Stephen Turner and Antony Williams – share the interconnectedness of art and the landscape and its relevance today. In so doing, they extend the legacy of Common Ground and are arguing, in turn, for a new way of seeing in landscape art – a genre once nearly declassified from contemporary relevance.