Once used, once taken
The artist began investigating the biodegradable properties of jute burlap after relocating to Aachen, Germany in 2018.
After exploring the aesthetic capabilities of wax modelling in previous years, Kate Studley aimed to recreate a similar organic aesthetic without the toxic and destructive effects of paraffin and microcrystalline extraction. Therefore, she began experimenting with different natural and recycled fabrics, which are the least environmentally disruptive.
Several smaller sculptures and experiments were created between the years 2018 and 2020 as Studley became to fully understand the material properties of sisal and jute. This involved creating a series of site-specific pieces which she grew in their specific natural locations. In this way, the artist hoped to understand the abilities to grow local plant life such as grass, ivy and mushrooms within the coffee sack material. By presenting an ecological diary of transformation between regenerative states the artist intended to show an alternative concept to contemporary art.
Following the land artists of the 1960s and 70s movement, this development in art practice hopes to question the importance of understanding art as a process rather than a fixed object or art piece. The artwork solely focuses on the use of biodegradable and recycled materials, the artist hopes to demonstrate to the audience an alternative way of exhibiting and creating artworks. In a society where the lifetime of objects exceeds their intended use, as seen with single-use plastics, the artist hopes to create installations which don’t lead to waste and environmental destruction.
To avoid the production of new material, Studley collaborated with several fair trade coffee foundations in Germany. This common understanding between herself and her supplier allowed her to make connections with coffee traders and farmers. This was important in order to contextualise the material, and to understand the fair trade systems and the processes behind the coffee trade. The artist, therefore, began to feel more connected to her artistic medium on a global scale as the production of such coffee sacks spans from South America, Asia and Africa, which are to be used in Europe.
Inspired by the organic aesthetic of fungi and natural growths which occur in woodland areas, the artist looked to create a site-specific art piece in a forest. After being chosen by L'Office de Tourisme et la Communauté de Communes du Massif du Sancy for the site-specific art exhibition; Horizons 2020 in Puy de Sancy, France, Studley began creating a 20-foot long large-scale installation to be exhibited for 3 months from June 2020 - September 2020. The installation included grass seeds and foraged moss from the local area. Throughout the exhibition, the grass prospered and mushrooms began to grow from the foraged moss, which had been chosen intentionally next to mushroom-rich woodlands in the area.
With coronavirus causing havoc in the art world during 2020, Studley was very grateful to receive her biggest commission yet, through this art project. As the galleries were unable to open, it allowed for more opportunities for outdoor artists to show their alternatives to commercial, sellable art. The site-specific work was exhibited over the three months and gradually became part of the landscape as it decayed into the forest. After the 3 months, the work was buried underground to decay further and return to the earth on which it was created. The installation hoped to demonstrate the usage of natural materials within art, to then be gradually returned back to the earth. 'Once used, once taken' highlights the wastage of materials in the art world, to argue that often once the materials are used and taken from the earth they should be returned naturally, rather than contributing to toxic waste or plastic pollution
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Coffee sacks, steel, natural linen thread, soil, clay, straw, grass
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab