Extracts from information on display during ArtWeeks 2021 @artsHUB
Growing up and living most of my life in the countryside, this enquiry relates to my lifelong connection with nature, and is an extension of key principles I live by: take all single-use plastics out of the system and don’t produce any more; stop using fossil-fuels and don’t extract any more; and zero-waste: reuse, recycle, repurpose, rethink, reimagine….
I’m involved with my local climate action group, and, as one part of our ‘Green Plan’ with the local environment group, we are conducting a local parish hedgerow survey. A diverse team of 12 volunteers go out for a couple of hours every weekend and record the relevant data; how ‘wide-high-long’, what species, assess the health and note the gaps. Based on initial data gained from existing maps, the parish has 46km of hedges and we’re ‘ground-truthing’ this.
For example hawthorn berries in autumn yield orange, yet the berries and the leaves brewed together give a bright orangey red. Within my cataloguing process, I name the plant, the plant part(s) used, the date foraged, the date brewed and the precise location of where the plant was foraged from. I have been brewing in seasonal batches and have a collection of autumn, winter and spring inks.
I keep the ink fresh by freezing it straight away. The idea to freeze the inks, however, came from my initial research into hedges when I came across the curious phenomenon of Cuckoo Pens. They reportedly date back to the Iron Age and were found predominantly in Oxfordshire along the path of the ancient Icknield Way which runs through the parish. They comprised of a group of trees surrounded by a circular hedge and were used for communication and, most probably, were ancient sacred sites of ritual. Evidence of circular hedges was found at Stonehenge. They are also thought to have become hiding places for the ancient Britons when the Vikings invaded.
I use the lake pigment process to create ‘shelf-stable’ solid pigment. This involves using non-toxic aluminium sulphate (alum) and sodium carbonate (soda ash, either from washing soda or wood ash solution). The aluminium metal particles attach themselves to the colour pigment in the ink and the soda ash separates the particles from the water. This is filtered and it leaves a paste which is rinsed and dried to give the solid pigment.
Jules Bishop is an artist who wants a society with a caring operating system and a planet with a future. Her versatile, intersectional practice embodies sculpture, video art, performance, ‘happenings’, print, drawing, dialogue and natural pigments. Jules raises awareness and facilitates depth of community engagement by means of poetic activism.