Current Project - Bull Island

Wild Things

This project looks at interpretive signage or nature boards found in Irish nature reserves, parks and wetlands. I travelled around the country shooting sections and fragments of the boards over the course of three years. The nature boards exist to show people what animal and plant life they can expect to see in the surrounding area. The signs are hand painted by various regional wildlife artists and I was drawn to the human vision of nature depicted on the signs. I was attracted to the romantic depiction of nature and the contrast between the images and the reality of the surrounding landscapes.

Animal images have been a source of fascination for us throughout history. They were some of the first subjects of art painted on cave walls and have appeared as religious symbols throughout the ages. Today we are surrounded by images of animals. They feature in our illustrations, books, toys, logos, and on our screens.

Our link with the animal world has been ‘warped, faded and distorted over time.’[1] The way we view it has changed significantly. Today we are becoming more and more estranged from the animal world, as we encroach on their habitat at an ever-increasing rate. As this happens, a need to conserve and manage nature grows. Through conservation programmes we manage habitats and control what species thrive and what must be removed. The interpretive elements which now populate the areas where I made these images are testament to the fact that ‘most of us are now excursionists on the landscape rather than natives to it’[2]

 

[1] Philip Kennedy. Animals. http://illustrationchronicles.com/Animals
[2] John Wilson Foster. Nature in Ireland a Scientific and Cultural History. (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1997) p457