Nature - Our Outer Skin / by Jeannine Cook

Flying high above the coastal flatlands of Georgia or the arid mountains of central Spain put me in mind of a statement I read recently.  David Nash, the British sculptor who is currently exhibiting his tree-derived sculptures at Kew Gardens in England, remarked that, "Nature is our outer skin and we are utterly dependent on it." 

Cork Dome, 2012, David Nash at Kew Gardens
Detail of Cork Dome,2012, David Nash

These two images are an eloquent example of David Nash's optic, for the cork oak bark, the outer skin, is not only protection for the wonderful cork oak tree, but also for us, for wine bottles and in many other remarkable ways.

On the wider issue of Nature being our outer protective skin, science and our life experiences confirm this on a daily basis. Even though we all are more and more aware of Nature's ferocity in the storms, heat waves, floods and general weather extremes, our existence utterly depends on the well being of our planet.  Watching the land unfurl below as a plane flies over is a sobering reminder of our dependence on the land and nature in general.  It is often very obvious from aerial views when man has abused, through erosion, contamination, bad stewardship or other reasons; the results are never good for mankind's future.

As artists, we can all draw attention to facets of this interdependence on Nature.  David Nash does it wonderfully in one way, both in wood and bronze.

Bronze Tree Trunk, David Nash

There are so many remarkable artists celebrating Nature today in different ways.  Each image highlights the importance of one facet or another of our planet.  Even images taken via SEMs (scanning electron microscopes) become works of art that remind us of our "outer skin".  Look at what Japanese microscopist  Susuma Nishinaga creates as an image from a mushroom.

Mushroom Gills, Susuma Nishinaga.  Image courtesy of the artist.

The patterns and order of each part of the whole spectrum of our natural world, let alone that beyond our planet, are elegant and coherent.  Artists seem to respond readily to those patterns - I know that I do.  A great number of my recent drawings, mainly in metalpoint but also in graphite, fall into this category.

Worlds within Worlds, 2012, graphite, Jeannine Cook

Even decaying oak trees are part of our outer skin.  Something to think about!