The relationship between humanity and the natural world is at the core of my practice, the co-dependency and interactions between the two create an unpredictable and ever-changing dialogue that I explore in my work. In the age of the Anthropocene, whereby no part of the Earth or surrounding atmosphere has been untouched by human activity, I believe engaging in conversations about environmental issues is vitally important, as well as considering how contemporary art relates to those discourses. Materiality is an intrinsic aspect of my artistic practice and is made tangible through my use of contrasting materials. By combining tactile industrial and ecological materials, I directly engage with relationships between humanity, industry, technology and nature. This questions the layers and dynamic complexities of our physical environment in relation to both our own existence and where humanity’s importance lies within this. Through the use of materials and objects such as concrete, clay, plants, wood and compost, my sculptures and installations explore the balance between the organic and non-organic, between human and nonhuman living objects, showing various degrees of coherency and decay. Dialogues between materials, objects the spaces they are situated in is a recurring theme within my work, the way objects have their own agency and can change how a space is perceived and navigated is something I consciously activate in my work.

In a recent work, I created a composition of concrete pillars, compost and cress grown from seed, combining the industrial with the living. The inanimate, static qualities of the conventionally industrial material of concrete, against the energy of the organic and living cress not only contrast, but opened up a dialogue, questioning the layered complexities of our physical environment and the shifting interactions humanity has with the natural world and how the natural world is both perceived and expected to be. Using plants within an installation can often have conflictions, with this piece the cress was evolving as time went on and demanded care and attention. Grown from seed, at first it cannot be seen but then grows and establishes itself, as the piece evolves further the cress is harvested and eaten, as it would have been in its primary function in society, but in this case, you are ingesting the artwork itself.

Ecological philosophy informs my practice, theories that question how we think about nature in relation to humanity and how nature can be idealised and fetishized, help me to contextualise the use of ‘nature’ in a contemporary art setting. Ecological philosopher Timothy Morton challenges how we think about nature and reflects on how we can transition into a new way of thinking, about how nature is perceived. Morton believes that once we realise that everything in interconnected, the concept of a ‘thing over there’ called ‘nature’ can no longer be utilised.

Within my sculptures, how objects can relate and engage with each other is a significant concept. The philosophical movement Object Orientated Ontology, founded by Graham Harman, is a contemporary philosophical movement that is grounded in the rejection of human existence having entitlement over nonhuman objects. This thought process inspired me to research objects themselves, looking at how these objects can exist independently to human perception. This has given me a greater understanding of how objects then interact and communicate with each other and the correlation between thought and being, thus creating a new dialogue within my sculptures and installations.

Throughout my practice I aim to convey the complex relationships and connections humanity has developed, surrounding nature and the natural world therefore questioning our preconceived notions of what nature is and how it should act. Whilst engaging with contemporary philosophical movements to further explore interconnections humanity has with nature and objects, the attention that these objects demand and the tensions that occur.

India Paparestis-Stacey, London