The Resilience of the Wild
The work in this exhibition included new and recent work from Mike Collier, most of which had been made since 2011 and not shown in the North East of England before. It was based primarily around two large-scale walking projects as well as work produced with Dove Cottage (the Wordsworth Trust).
Much of Mike Collier's work is based around his ‘practice’ of walking, or more properly, meandering, with a group of people, often led by a natural historian. Moving slowly (or meandering), through an environment affects our experience in ways that are not immediately apparent. It allows the walker time to stop whenever and wherever they find something interesting to ‘explore’; and time to respond to the weather patterns and soundscapes of an environment. For Mike, the relationship between walking and artistic practice is a complex one, involving collaboration, participation and conversational exchange. Meandering in a group seems to encourage discussion that 'meanders' across natural history, social history, politics and philosophy. Each walk is different; sometimes (if along the same route) repeatable, but never replicable; the vagaries of weather, group dynamic and seasonal patterns ensuring this. These shared experiences with fellow walkers generate new knowledge of species and plant-life encountered during the walk.
Both before and after each meander, Mike explores the history of the place he walks through. He then takes the research gathered whilst on these meanders into his studio, and assimilates it whilst, in the process, making a series of abstract images and integrating various elements of text into these images. Text and colour are important in the architecture of his work; a record of flora and fauna seen or heard, the familiar unfamiliarity of vernacular names, dialects of birds and plants once known but fleetingly remembered, hinting back to the specificity of places and their ecological frameworks.
I worked on seven pieces in collaboration with Mike Collier working on typography, digitisation of hand rendered art work, colour, finish and print.
24 Birds of Fisherman's Walk
6 Birds of the Coquet Valley
16 Birds of Durham
16 Birds of the Ullswater Valley
Song of the Curlew