Creating a Sense of Place

When I first started writing for the blog I published a post called “A Sense of Place” which you can find here. In it, I describe a location that I often visit and explain that it holds a special meaning for me. My understanding of having a “sense of place” is that it is the combining of the physical characteristics of a landscape with memory, history, art, stories, and the emotions that certain places bring which linger in our minds and create a sense of wellbeing and of connectivity. An interweaving of human experience with the landscape. My interest in this is largely what drives me to make work, and I can’t think of a more fulfilling way to build a relationship with a place than through walking, exploration and art.

Since writing that post I’ve been searching for my own particular way of working that does justice to my experiences in the landscape – Something that goes beyond simple visual representation. Hindsight is a funny thing. I suppose back then I thought I might rock up to a place with my sketchbook, paints and camera and create all these wonderful engaging expressions, which I’d then rustle up into some epic emotional landscapes back in the studio. But things are never as easy as that, and I’m glad that they aren’t. All through life we constantly discover things that weren’t known to us before, we live with uncertainties and progress as best we can. We make mistakes, learn from them and try again, and so it is with creativity.

This year I’ve been grappling with various processes that I use in the studio and when working outdoors and have made some changes to help me to progress. One of my favourite sayings is “If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got!”, so I try to be mindful of that, even though it can be difficult to step out of our comfort zones sometimes. It is important to me that a piece of work is an expression of authentic experience and that the significance of that moment in place and time is somehow contained within the image. Previously I thought that I’d produce this simply by being engaged in authentic experience, and perhaps to an extent you can recognise this in some of the sketchbooks and photographs. Now I really need to bring this authentic experience back into the studio, where I’ve begun to work differently with my sketchbooks and images. There has been some progress through August and September, and I’m excited about making new work.

I am always interested in reading your comments or answering your questions. Please share your thoughts with me using the form below.

Here is some new work from my experiences exploring the coast and limestone country near my home.

Approaching Hail Storm, Oil on Paper, 26x28cm
Light and Reflections at Low Tide, Oil on Panel
Lost Buoy at Sunset – Photograph
Summer Storm, Oil on Panel, 30x30cm
Four Trees, oil on cradled panel, 30x35cm

 

Standing Stones after a Storm – Photograph

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Hello Debbie,

    I share that striving for a sense of place in my photography as well, and often of late find myself traveling some of the same roads to see if there is something I missed or if there is something that stands out in a new light.

    The weather looks especially dynamic in your sense of place. Enjoy all of the changes and emotions and lightings, they are great to ponder upon through your paintings and photography.

    I wish you good fortune with bringing your thoughts and feelings from your wanderings back into the studio to recreate them from memories with your wonderful talents…

    the weather looks so dynamic there…

    – paul

    • Hi Paul,
      It is good to hear from you. Yes, it gets a bit blustery here on the west coast and brings lots of exciting weather with amazing clouds and light. I will never tire of sky watching whilst wandering along the coast here.
      Thanks for all your encouraging words. I’ll pop over to your web pages and have a look at what you’ve been up to 🙂
      Debbie

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