Coffee Sacks

Coffee Sacks

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, 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 lead to the least environmental disruption. 

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 hoped to grow 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 a 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. From experimentation to the final outcome. 

Furthermore, to avoid the production of new material, a collaboration was formed between Studley and 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 so as 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 more 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 20m 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 through 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 of 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

Ingredient list

Coffee sacks, steel, natural linen thread, soil, clay, straw, grass

Maker

Kate Studley

References

Horizons "Arts-Nature" en Sancy - Once used, once taken par Kate Studley (Video)
Art and nature on the hazel path (La Bourboule 63) (Article)

Photo credits

L'Office de Tourisme et la Communauté de Communes du Massif du Sancy, KaffeeKollektiv Aroma Zapatista Hamburg, Contigo Fairtade GmbH Göttingen