Steve Sutton is the second in a series of artists we are asking to give short responses about their work and how it might relate to climate change. Sutton is a member of Castlefield Gallery Associates, and one of the artists who has just completed the second year of our bOlder Programme.
Castlefield Gallery: In what ways do you feel your work might relate to issues of climate change and sustainability, in the content of the work, its narrative, conceptually or theoretically. How might it speak to or challenge public discourse.
Steve Sutton: My art practice is wholeheartedly concerned with issues of climate change and sustainability. There is a huge range of related factors here- my work addresses some of them directly, e.g. the critical role of flora (trees) to achieve carbon capture. The visual narrative in all my work 2D or 3D communicates the warning signs to humanity of the dangers if current climatic trends are ignored. Any viewer’s conscience will be alerted by the content and meaning of art like mine.
With regards the materials, processes and techniques you use to produce your work, are there any practical decisions you make with regards climate change and sustainability?
I am always concerned with the fact that I use materials which are evidently natural resources. When I use a piece of wood I most certainly have an impact on the existence of other living creatures. We are constant consumers; we buy art materials which are then consumed often without questioning their source or manufacturing process. Most of the raw material I use is not processed, it is usually in a raw state so hopefully my working methods are relatively low-tech, energy efficient and cost effective. New trees can be planted too!
In general, how do you feel galleries, art spaces, artworks and artists, might be able to contribute, what if any role do you feel they can play in a progressive conversation?
I believe that galleries etc. have an important responsibility to set an example for a new world order of sustainability- after all, the public are going to be influenced by what they see and experience through actual gallery visits or virtually through the internet. Artists have a prime role to play here, maybe a new art movement will be tagged with a new eco/climate title. The conceptual /narrative content of new art needs to reflect and comment on this new reality.
Are there any tips or advice, anything you have learnt you might want to share with other artists or our audiences?
Artists face a massive challenge to take on a new awareness. My particular art practice is all about communicating climate related issues with anyone and everyone no matter what their field of expertise is… and I still have much to learn. Maybe the medium is the message here.
May 2021: Steve Sutton
Steve Sutton is on Instagram: @sculpturejourney
Image: Steve Sutton, Life Support-Raised Bed (2021). Pen Drawing. Design for three-dimensional installation. Photo courtesy Jane Andrews.