Waterloo bridge, Claude Monet 1901.
The Topic of sustainability is quite a popular one in art with many artists taking inspiration from their environments and surroundings. Claude Monet had a very environmental appeal with his work and took a lot of inspiration from a smog covered London in 1901. According to an article from the Guardian (Monet’s obsession with London fog, 2021), Monet had an obsession with how the fog swirled over London and he had paid three visits to watch and paint how the fog rose over London’s sky, he exclaimed “without fog London would not be Beautiful”. he took beauty in such an ugly sight to the average person, in the early 1900’s London wasn’t full of skyscrapers as it is today but massive factories constantly throwing smoke and fog into the air with pollution in each breathe, although compared to 1901 worldwide there are many more factories than before with countries such as China and the USA leading a massive role in supplying these goods worldwide at a vast rate. Only an artist like Monet could take beauty in such a sight but how he carefully captured each whirl of smoke and the hues of grey and brown contrasting from the bright blues and yellows of the sky behind is a marvel to see. The painting attached is my personnel favourite of the series of paintings depicting London and it is a view from the upper floors of the Savoy hotel overlooking Waterloo Bridge.
In my opinion I think this painting is raw and not by any means sugar-coated, you can clearly see the environmental effect of pollution caused by the mass production and over consumption we cause as human beings, while Monet did find beauty in the fog through its constant changing form in the sky, we know that smoke and fog is a very dangerous form of pollution, it causes disease, it burns holes in our Ozone layer, pollutes our water sources and can even stop trees and crops growing sufficiently amongst many more detrimental effects.
According to an article by (Air Pollution and Climate Change, 2021) “Air pollution and climate change are closely related. As well as driving climate change, the main cause of CO2 emissions – the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – is also a major source of air pollutants”. The pollution we throw into out sky is one of the main causes of climate change and its rapidly reducing the sustainability of our planet and with such a fast paced rate of climate change it will be very difficult to ever turn this around and it’s doubtful that we ever will reverse the damage we have been inflicting for Hundreds of years now.
Edith Meusnier is an environmental textile artist who takes a lot of inspiration from her small home village in Picardy France which is surrounded by forests and greenery. Edith states that “My forest environment feeds my imagination and envelops me on a daily basis.”, she takes comfort in the forest around her and uses it as an escape from the outside world of trouble and devastation, she enjoys the natural environment and the calmness around her.
Her art forms come in massive installations and Edith uses the elegance and versatility of textiles to bring her voice within nature she keeps her creations in the open air, exposed to rain, wind, sun, and more showing how the natural world can cause damage through weather and more so in recent years through the ever so dramatic effects of climate change. You can find her installations in forests, ponds, and courtyards they bring more light and colour in a world of light and colour. “I draw ephemeral parentheses in the landscape.”
Edith makes her installations using recycled materials such as threads and fibres and she wraps them carefully around a large sprang creating amazingly intricate geometric loops and shapes throughout her plaiting and intertwining processes. (Attanasio, 2021). Edith explains this as she is adding to the natural landscape with artificial creation she has made and letting both coexist in the natural landscape side by side by bringing her art into the highest form of art, nature itself.
I really enjoy Edith’s work as it works alongside the natural beauty of the world and uses recycled materials but also serves as a reminder to climate change in how the works become weakened by harsh weather. I love how she uses her art as a joyous escape from pollution and climate change while also shedding light on it. Focusing on the natural earth around us is a great inspiration to get ourselves into gear and try and keep intact the integrity and sustainability of our planet, we need to see the beauty in what’s real and stop making and abusing what is fake. The use of the forest in the pieces show the full rich beautiful trees and the art almost magnifying their importance while in contrast so much deforestation is happening globally which is actively ruining our landscapes and cutting off our supply of oxygen slowly but surely. We need to learn to respect our landscapes it’s not all about fossil fuels and carbon emissions it’s much broader than that, we need to be sustainable in every aspect of the word we need to plant more trees, protect our sceneries and stop recklessly cutting forests down. Trees are the lungs of the earth and serve to protect us we shouldn’t use them as a profit to make products from.
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies. 2021. Air Pollution and Climate Change. [online] Available at: <https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/output/dossiers/air-pollution-and-climate-change> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
Attanasio, R., 2021. Edith Meusnier — an environmental artist inspired by forests. [online] The Global Fool. Available at: <https://theglobalfool.com/edith-meusnier-an-environmental-artist-inspired-by-forests/> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
the Guardian. 2021. Monet’s obsession with London fog. [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/feb/19/monets-obsession-with-london-fog-weatherwatch> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
Tate. 2021. Claude Monet 1840–1926 | Tate. [online] Available at: <https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/claude-monet-1652> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
Textile Curator. 2021. Edith Meusnier – Textile Curator. [online] Available at: <https://www.textilecurator.com/home-default/home-2-2/edith-meusnier/> [Accessed 4 May 2021].