Toxic Landscapes: Artwork by Kate Shaw

One of the many reasons I created Where the Wild Grows, was to bring awareness to our growing disconnect with the natural world. When I discovered Kate Shaw’s work, I was unaware of its underlying context. I found her landscapes stunning and was intrigued by their cautionary nature. Upon further inspection, I found the intention of her work to be quite similar to mine. Kate Shaw says, “I am concurrently exploring the sublime in nature whilst imbuing a sense of toxicity and artificiality in this depiction. The intention is to reflect upon the contradiction between our inherent connection to the natural world and continual distancing from it.”  I knew that anyone dedicating their time and work to such themes, was someone I had to feature on my website.

Shaw, who studied in Melbourne, has shown work in countless group and solo exhibits all over the world. Her process employs the use of acrylic paint and ink pours, allowing the materials to move of their own accord. The resulting movement of the paint begins to mimic phenomena in the natural world such as lava flow and landslides. From the dried paint, Shaw cuts and collages pieces resembling nature. She then finishes the work with an airbrush and resin.

The outcome of this process is a collection of mesmerizing and expansive landscapes that explore ideas of beauty and toxicity as they relate to our environment. The sludge-like movement and aesthetic of the paint is haunting and reminiscent of both natural disasters and events such as toxic spills.

Kate Shaw’s most recent work involves video. Shaw discusses this work on her website:

“The small-scale video work I have created aims to be an updated Claude Glass, combining video of disasters from YouTube and footage of the poured paint I use in the collage paintings. In 18th century landscape painting a small black convex mirror known as a Claude Glass was used to frame and condense a landscape, and create a tinted reflection reminiscent of a Claude Lorain painting. Recent natural disasters of the 21st Century such as the Boxing Day Tsunami, 2009 Bushfires and volcanic eruptions in Iceland, are disseminated through grainy video shot on cell phones and posted on You Tube as small-scale video. I am interested in the way that these devices effect the consumption of spectacular natural events.”

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