James Brunt creates elaborate ephemeral artworks using the natural materials he finds in forests, parks, and beaches near his home in Yorkshire, England. This form of land art involves detailed patterns, textures, and shapes formed using multiples of one kind of material. Brunt collects twigs, rocks, and leaves and arranges them in mandala-like spirals, geometric patterns and concentric circles. He photographs his finished work to document it before nature once again takes hold of his materials.
We talk to James about geometry, nature and the future of Islamic art.
What made you interested in sacred geometric patterns?
My interest has always been with nature, and how the seasons present opportunities for me to intervene. I don’t set out with specific ideas or patterns in mind but often find the process of repetition bring out geometric patterns and forms naturally. I like that even without consideration, these geometric forms find a way of emerging.
What was your journey to specializing in land art?
I studied Fine Art in the 1990’s, it took me 20 years more to realise that I could combine my two passions, art and nature. I haven’t looked back since and have the creative journey that I will continue for the rest of my life.
You use natural materials to create eye-catching ephemeral art, from stone spirals to mandalas made of sticks and leaves. Can you tell us more about your process?
My process is really simple, I don’t want difficult designs to impair my enjoyment and relationship with the natural environment. Spirals for example is very simple, once start you know exactly where the next thing goes. I don’t see myself as making pictures, I like to find an immersive state with the location where the rearrangement of matter is at one with everything around me, the birds singing, the flora growing etc.
Your work is incredibly detailed, how long does it take you to create an installation?
I work within the timescales I have, that could be as long 6 hours or as short as half an hour, works will fit within these times. As I’ve said before the details element of my work comes through the repetition of a simple process.
You are very considerate of the environment and take none of the materials outside of their natural habitat. Does your work aim to raise awareness of environmental issues?
I hope my work, promotes the beauty of our natural world. People’s awareness, understanding and respect will come through their own experiences and learning, like how my own journey has defined what I am happy and not happy to do when creating work.
How do you come up with your concepts and compositions?
I don’t pre plan anything, I don’t draw ideas or designs beforehand. The majority of my work is inspired by what I find on the day. I always explain this by saying “how can I pre plan a work of art when I don’t know what I will find to work with”.
What has been the most challenging work you have created to date?
The most challenging works are the ones that I don’t get a feeling for, whether my head is in the wrong place or external pressures fill my head. Otherwise, unexpected changes to the weather can bring challenges to the working process. But mostly the challenge is focus, working over a long period of time, repeating the same action requires a mental focus.
What do you hope audiences feel or think when they encounter your work?
This may sound selfish, but my main focus is how my work affects me, my work is so intrinsically linked to my own wellbeing and wellness. I don’t really make work with other people in mind. The fact that many people seem to take pleasure from it is very humbling and welcome.
Is there a spiritual element to your work?
Not intentionally but yes, to dedicate so much of your life to a practice it becomes a spiritual practice to you.
What does the future of Islamic art look like to you?
Like anything, the future of everything is in the hands of the younger generations, as it should be. Art in all it’s genres will be pushed by new views, new influences and global events, lead and those who seek to challenge, change, find peace through creativity.
For more information check out https://www.jamesbruntartist.co.uk
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