For the last twenty years Australia-based artist Shona Wilson has intimately collaborated with nature by building sculptural assemblages that incorporate a myriad of found organic specimens. In her 2016 body of work, Offering, she formed mandala-like pieces from objects such as seedpods, twigs, and bones that were intended as gestures of gratitude to her practice’s source—nature.
“I hope these Offerings resonate as healing or therapeutic objects in their own right,” Wilson explained in the press release for her solo exhibition at Arthouse Gallery in New South Wales, Australia. “They are embedded with the vibrational patterns and tones of the natural world, of the very materials they are made from, and thus they emit the frequencies of the materials within them.”
Artmaking typically sees the artist utilizing man-made materials to create something that comments on the natural world and its’ inhabitants. Artist Shona Wilson consciously inverts this process by using objects sourced in her environment as a commentary on our growing disconnection from nature. Wilson brings together objects that would often be overlooked, or remain completely unseen, and through intricate construction creates beautiful sculptures that both respond and integrate into the natural environment.
Based on the mid north coast of NSW, Wilson has gathered materials from her surroundings for more than two decades and it is this collection that she draws from to create her impossibly elaborate assemblages.
Conscious of promoting a sustainable art practice Wilson does not take anything ‘new’ for her artworks preferring to rely on a treasure trove of twigs, driftwood, insect wings, feathers, seedpods, crustacean shells and, for one work in this exhibition, the wonderfully sculptural quills of an echidna. These (often minuscule) components are ordered and arranged to form mandala-like forms that expertly speak of the cycle of life. As Wilson explains “the smaller the object the more precious it seems… fragility and care are implied and this sets up a very direct emotional response for the viewer.”
Wilson hosts a series of Ephemeral Art Workshops that invite participants to engage with the natural environment in creative and playful ways. You can learn more about her collaborations with nature, and sign up for a class on her website.