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Return to: Martin Prothero

Artist Statement


"Understanding is not come by passively, nor is imparted simply in the showing and the telling of what one claims to know. To know the taste of a pear you must change it by eating". Mao

Martin Prothero's practice is informed by a pressing awareness that the ecological crisis we are in is a direct result of the way we, in the West, perceive our separation from the natural world. He tries to make work that allows nature to document itself, temporarily side-stepping the dominant human-centric view.

Martin Prothero is perhaps best known for Carbon Light Life, a body of work that records the passing of wild creatures over the land. Plates of carbon-covered glass are laid out overnight in locations where, through his research, the animals are known to frequent. Their footprints leave marks of their presence on the glass, which can be read as beautiful abstract drawings, and as a narrative of a specific place. They record the point in time where the creature's life and the artist's were connected.

His current work for the RANE research group at University College Falmouth (Research in Art, Nature and Environment) is more strongly process-led and experiential. Through learning to track animals during Carbon, Light, Life, he learned to see and read the indexical signs left by animals in the landscape all around us. From this he learned more about their co-existence, interactions and habits. More recently he has begun sitting for long-durations of 12 and 24 hours in the natural environment, researching the multi-sensuous language of the natural world in great detail. The next stage of this process of learning from the land involves living in one place for a longer duration, from a few days, to weeks. Becoming resident, part of the ecology, eating, sleeping and breathing the environment in one location. Processing a place both physically and mentally and being completely part of it.

Out of this process, Martin is exploring his personal relationship to the natural world and at the same time pointing to a process that we can all share, if we choose to. As an artist he is developing several new concepts for bodies of work, including pinhole photos using naturally occurring apertures; and tree shadow photographs, recording the images of leaves projected onto the ground.

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