I am currently working on a series of large scale drawings of flowering plants that live in the wild. Drawing loosely in charcoal, I aim to capture the plant's life and movement and its passage through time as the plant begins to wilt and die over the duration of the drawing. The plants are often drawn with soil encrusted, exposed roots, revealing their source of life and energy but also, paradoxically, their vulnerability and fragility.
I work in charcoal as my preferred medium because it enables a more emotional response, allowing smudges and underdrawings to be part of the description. As a medium, it reflects the fragility of the plants as charcoal itself is crumbly and turns to dust over time. Also, charcoal is derived from plant carbon and so might be seen to represent both the past and the future of the plants under study. Paper is also derived from cellulose, a plant based material. And so there is a kind of circularity to the drawings which becomes part of the process itself.
I began the series directly in response to seeing a drawing by Jennifer Packer at the Serpentine gallery in 2021 (an untitled charcoal drawing of a man on another man’s shoulders). I was struck by how sensitively she expressed the moment with so few lines and selective detail. I admire Egon Schiele’s emotive sunflower paintings: they appear to resemble his portraits, perhaps reflecting his state of mind and self.
I am drawing the wildflowers larger than life, looking to celebrate the majestic and to foreground smaller plants and less prized plants and weeds. I wish to highlight their importance as much as their fragility and to consider our human relationship with plants and the natural world.