Leave No Trace

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It is often commented upon that I never include human figures in my work. In notebooks, I sketch people as part of a visual diary, but they never appear in finished works.

The answer is very simple – I do not want to have people in my paintings.

My work is about my relationship with the landscape – it is not a topographical record or a snapshot of a day on the beach. When human intervention or impact on the landscape is included in my work, it is there for a very specific reason.

I find reassurance, for example, in the way that nature reclaims our assaults on the landscapes – roads, buildings and walls need only be neglected for a brief while by us before nature starts its inexorable reclamation. Foliage growing over and through old walls, with cracks, smoothing or even collapse caused by natural weathering.

It is interesting how our predecessors chose locations for homesteads that avoided the worst excesses of weather – tucked into hillsides or nestled in dips, away from the winds. These become part of the landscape. Dry stone walls define the contours of the land. All built at a time when we lived in synchrony with the world around us.

What lessons we have failed to learn.

February, 2019Johanna Ashby