With Jon Foreman.
I was fortunate, recently, to spend an hour with Jon Foreman, Land Artist. We talked about his life and work and I thought you might like to share in our conversation.
Tell me about your background, Jon?
I’ve lived in Pembrokeshire since the age of about 7. I went to school in Taskers then came to Milford Haven for sixth form where I studied Art, but I only really got into it when I did an Art and Design Pre BA course (I wasn’t sure about going away for University). On this course I learned and explored, particularly sculpture. I can’t express enough how supportive my tutors at the time were. I’m hoping to meet up with them at some point!
I then did the BA design degree. Since around my second year there, I have feared stopping making things so I very rarely go a day without having made something; be it drawing indoors or creating Land Art on the coast or in the woods. I think the reason I fear stopping is because I lost the flow of working in the first year. The more I make, the more ideas I get.
What does Pembrokeshire mean to you? Do have a favourite place?
Pembrokeshire to me means both beauty and potential. I see potential in the places I visit to create things alongside the natural order of what is already there. My favourite place is probably Lindsway bay, particularly for sand drawing. The sand there is often immaculate and not so many people go down there, which makes it ideal for drawing. I’m trying to find new places really but travel costs money.
What delights you?
What delights me? When ideas work, finding new places to work, working with friends and other artists.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I enjoy it above all else. But also it helps me to get away from the stresses of every day life and its as far from technology as you can get. Everyone knows the feeling of constant texts/notifications/emails. Being away from all that and creating things really reveals a great sense of progress. It’s very therapeutic, particularly working with natural materials and all the while being a part of the landscape itself. All the senses are awakened when you’re out in these environments; hearing the sea, feeling the breeze, seeing the changes in light throughout the day.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by all art. I try to discover as much as I can to help me gain ideas in the field of Land Art. I still feel like there is so much to be done ,because the Land Art community is very small in comparison to other fields of Art. I also get ideas from creating myself, which is another why I’m out making so much.
How do you like to work and where?
I like working in most natural environments; beaches, woodlands, rivers etc. As long as there’s material to work with. In fact not just natural environments, I have also worked in derelict spaces.
Typical sculpture takes up space. My work is part of the landscape and like the landscape it disappears over time. I love that. I particularly like seeing the sea, half way over a drawing in the sand. Being out in nature using what I find is so different from being in a studio.
So you don’t mind that your work will not be around for long?
It’s part of the process. The work evolves and decays. I have a digital record of the process but I don’t have to store a finished piece.
What sort of materials do you look for?
I mostly like to use what is in the immediate environment.The materials are an extension of the place they come from and I very rarely take them from their natural place. Also a brilliant thing about Land Art is it costs nothing. No money is spent on materials. No paint, no paper, no pens or pencils. Just you and nature. The best kind of collaboration.
Tell me about projects you have been involved with?
In my third year of study, I would go into the old Depot in Milford and work with anything I found there, glass, stone leaves. At one point there were so many leaves on the road. I collected them and put them into a square room with peeling walls. I created a spiral that filled the room. Someone came in after I left and burned it all.
Oh that’s awful !
It’s no big deal. Something always takes it away. I went to work with the ash that was left and created a different form.
What else have you done?
Since leaving uni I have had work in galleries, created work at festivals such as: Busan’s Sea Art Festival, South Korea 2015 and Llano Earth Art Festival (LEAF), Texas 2018, Big Retreat Festival, Pembrokeshire 2018.
My favourite experience by far was Llano Earth Art Festival. Here I met so many amazing artists who I knew online and had spoken to. To finally meet them all in one place was an incredible experience. Not only that! I also had the pleasure of collaborating with some of them too! While there we were all made so comfortable by all who were working on the festival, I am very grateful to them for that.
Also, IN 2017, I created work alongside my girlfriend Brioney Mclean . (You should check her work out too) in Edinburgh (Summerhall) in an exhibition called Art of Balance, which had many of the artists I met previously at Llano Earth Art Festivals . This is brilliant for our small community to be getting some limelight.
What are you plans for the future?
Creating non stop as usual, often with Brioney. I will be creating at Timber Festival very soon with James Brunt (one of the artists I met and collaborated with in Texas) and I’m hoping/praying/begging to be able to go to LEAF 2019. I don’t want to miss it!
Tell me about the people who inspire you. Who should aspiring land artists look out for ?
I couldn’t mention every single artist I admire but the following are some of the people I would suggest you look out for.
Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long are the two Land artists every Land Artist will have heard of. You could say we are just continuing what they started.
Michael Grab (Gravity Glue) An incredible stone balancer. I’ve been following his work since I started creating myself.
Richard Shilling . He’s a well established Land Artist who I’ve also been following since I started.
Manu Topic – Another amazing stone balancer from France who’s photography rivals his stone balancing skills. Myself and Brioney worked with Manu at the local Big Retreat Festival.
Sterling Gregory (Sterling Creations or stizzle_fry on Instagram) we met and spent an extra week with him at Llano, He’s got a lot of variation in his work that I love, Land Art, Stone Balancing, Drawing, you name it he’ll nail it.
Travis Williams (the_travelling_man_) A stone balancer and world explorer. This guys free hand stone arches are unrivaled and massive.
James Craig Page – James is the organiser for the Art of Balance Exhibition in Edinburgh and he also organised the European Stone Stacking Championship in Dunbar. I don’t know anyone who creates more freely than James! He also paints!
Tim Anderson (Keystone Balance) Another renowned stone balancer who I met at LEAF. The most encouraging artist I’ve met to date. His balances are as beautiful as his beard.
Sounds a comprehensive list. Thank you Jon. We look forward to hearing much more about your work and your travels. Keeping our fingers crossed that you make it to Leaf 2019.