Our Nature (2011)

There is a belief that nature and human activity are separate and different. Nature is immutable, culture – a man made thing. However, since mankind is part of the natural world, does it not follow that the activities of the human brain are a phenomenon of nature. It is a function of our DNA, our evolved instincts for survival that makes us creative and social beings, in the same way as animal brains instinctively help them to survive. We swarm over the planet like insects, building, burrowing, taking flight, crossing oceans, and all the while consuming everything in our path. Perhaps ‘virus’ would be a more fitting description.
I have taken the opportunity presented by the invitation to exhibit at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, to explore aspects of the conflict and conjunctions between nature and culture. In maps, we see how nature, in the form of rivers and mountain ranges affect human settlement patterns, lines of conquest and territorial borders. Culture grows and evolves, like plants – the word ‘culture’ relates to the world of cultivation and growth. Languages develop like plant-life; words grow from seeds of inspiration into poetry, irregular, uncontrolled and then ‘cultivated’. Drawing is the same, partly spontaneous, wild, unconscious, partly ‘cultivated’.
Human attempts to control nature may be an aberration of our species, but it is nonetheless arguable that it is in itself ‘natural’. Research suggests that the propensity for religious belief is a function of the brain, hardwired into our DNA. The intellect develops ‘explanations’ for nature in the form of spirits and deities, and the Judeo-Christian religion encourages the notion of man as being created to master nature. Are these constructs of belief ‘of nature’ as much as ‘of man’… or do these classifications, nature/culture ultimately mean the same thing?