Monday, 16 December 2013

The Beauty of Nature

Global warming, climate changes, deforestation, desertification and so many other such concepts are commonly mentioned in the media, although people’s awareness of these issues and their respective causes seems to remain widely untouched.

Patrick Dougherty, born in Oklahoma in 1945 and raised in North Carolina where he still lives, has combined his carpentry skills, his love for Nature and the qualifications he got in Art History and Sculpture from the local university to create the most awesome art works from tree saplings, hoping to raise awareness to and love for the beauty of Nature, therefore contributing to environmental preservation.

Very much in line with the motivation behind the art pieces produced by Rob Mulholland, Cornelia Konrads, Jeff Uitto or Julie Dodd, already featured in our blog, Patrick Dougherty uses sticks, fallen branches and old timber to create tangled webs of natural materials in his creations. Through his skill and artistry, they gradually metamorphose into fantastic sculptures which match and melt into their settings. Since his art works are made of organic matter, they end up disintegrating, breaking down and falling apart, thus becoming part of the landscape again, in a process evoking the impermanent characteristic of everything in Nature and stressing the sculptor’s concerns.

Having built his own home – in which he still lives with his wife and son – with collected fallen branches, rocks and old timber, Dougherty has thereby made a statement of his interest in what Nature has to offer him. This worked as the trigger which set him on his artistic course. From then on, he started to develop his tangled stick sculptures, which are always site-specific, therefore unfolding in quite unpredictable shapes and size, depending on the site itself.

On the other hand, the selection of wood is also a very important part of the process, since different kinds of wood have different characteristics, thus offering the artist multifold choices and alternatives. Maples, for instance, hold their colour and may display in the same branch several shades from reddish to light gray, in gradations that can be used according to Dougherty’s purposes.

Patrick Dougherty’s monumental sculptures, which follow the repetitive patterns found in Nature, vary from art pieces skilfully located within natural environment into which they seem to blend to installations integrating urban surroundings and setting a striking contrast in their intrinsic conspicuousness.

In January this year, Dougherty was involved in the Sarasota project, where he built a site-specific installation for the Sarasota Museum of Art, which provided community members with the opportunity to watch the artist as he worked and witness his creation unfold right before their eyes. As a matter of fact and since he works mainly outside in the open, interaction with the public is quite common.  In fact, passers-by were invited and encouraged to experience and explore the art piece for themselves and to directly interact with it. This offered them a unique chance to wonder and wander through the architectural forms of Dougherty’s dreamlike sculpture.

According to Patrick Dougherty himself, there is magic in his work, for he “turn[s] something inconsequential into something that has some import”. Furthermore, his ephemeral sculptures fully stand for the sculptor’s concerns, as he states that he is “interested in our relationship to the natural world and how the idea of ‘wilderness’ seems to have changed from a concept of ‘man against the elements’ to a discussion of Nature’s fragility in the face of pollution, global warming, loss of species”.

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