Toxic Terrain by Paige Middleton
Inspired by the concept of anthropocene and evolving through discursive collaboration UK graduating photographic artist Paige Middleton has created a contemporary, abstracted body of work to highlight the human ecological impact on our surroundings.
Tell us more about yourself and your practice.
I’m a final year BA (Hons) Photography undergraduate at Coventry University, having recently returned from a year studying a multimedia course in Madrid, Spain. I have a particular interest in the natural environment and exploring environmental issues within these spaces, which I think probably stems from having lived in a coastal town for the majority of my life. Despite studying in the middle of England in a concrete jungle for three years, I still find myself being drawn back to the coastal environment in my projects.
What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?
The project is very experimental - in the initial stages it was a case of trial and error with multiple processes; abstract and representational, digital and analogue. Reading around the subject of the anthropocene and receiving regular feedback in response to my images also greatly influenced the direction that I have taken. I find myself intrigued by the element of the unknown, in that on first glance the viewer is not entirely sure of the subject matter. This can be used as a strategy to entice a wider audience into the photograph’s space, in an attempt to understand the subject matter.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
I’ve always been intrigued by the work of Edward Burtynsky, in both my photography and theoretical work about the visual communication of environmental issues. Burtynsky’s work could be considered the visual opposite to Toxic Terrain however, the motives behind my work are similar, to ‘stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival; something we often take for granted—until it’s gone’ – EB. The series Aomori by Alexander Mourant has also recently got me thinking more in depth about colour and it’s representation within my work.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
The series is predominantly abstract, but I can’t say I’ve been directly influenced by any specific art movements, perhaps I have unknowingly!
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
I’m aware that my project is not going to have mass environmental impact, but I’d like to think that the series is thought provoking and will make viewers consider their actions and the impact these will have towards the natural land.
Toxic Terrain is a very abstract series. Despite the very beautiful abstract imagery there are some very serious morals and ideas behind the work. Can you tell us more about how you came about creating work to highlight the human ecological impact?
In the initial stages, it was a case of exploring a range of possible visualisations of the issue of marine pollution and examining the public’s response to these, which led to my current point in the project. The photographs could be considered a dystopian representation of what mankind will face if the natural land continues to be exploited.
Any words for aspiring artists?
Don’t shy away from asking for regular feedback on your work, even when it’s not what you consider ‘exhibition ready’, whether it is from those visually educated or just your friends and family. All feedback can be considered positive feedback!
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
Toxic Terrain (working title) is on going and the development of the series will be exhibited at Perspective, Coventry University BA (Hons) Photography Degree Show, 16-25th May 2018 (venue TBC). You can keep up to date with the project on my Instagram: @paigemiddphoto.
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