Realising Landscape with Forest + Found
Interview and Photographs Sam Walton
For their current show, artist-makers Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth explore the relationship between material and maker…
It’s hard to explain what Forest + Found are, exactly. Straddling the fine line between art and craft, Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth produce pieces that reveal an intimate knowledge of material.
But, as they told us at the launch of their latest show, Realising Landscape at Caro’s The Space (which runs until 27 April), it’s a very specific sort of wisdom. ‘I’ve built up a peculiar knowledge of wood,’ says Bainbridge. ‘I wouldn’t know how to break down a log into a piece of sawn timber; I know nothing about cabinetry or joinery. But I know how a large section of end grain sweet chestnut is going to behave if it’s been cut for four weeks, or four months: you start to learn the minute details of how a piece of wood can be worked.’ Sometimes working through trial and error and embracing happy accidents, Bainbridge admits to having ‘built up a dossier of unpredictability’.
Booth’s speciality is equally exact. ‘I work in raw calico; my knowledge doesn’t extend to wool, silk or other textiles,’ she says. ‘The fact that this fabric has a direct relationship to painting, there’s not the need for me to explore past the artist’s canvas. Once you strip back all the natural oils and starch from that cloth – by boiling it in order to impregnate it with colour and pigment – and you remove those oils, you’re creating a texture that previously wouldn’t have been there. The more you soak it in wood, iron, and earth it takes on a physical weight and structure that no longer becomes cloth, it becomes a far more structural object.’
Booth raves about searching in the landscape for traces of the raw materials used in her work: ‘If you see a stream running red, you know that earth is going to be rich in iron or ochre,’ she says. ‘I’ve always got my trowel with me – if I notice something on my walks I can dig a little up.’
‘That sense of place and understanding of where the material is coming from is so important to my process,’ agrees Bainbridge. ‘Every piece I’ve made I have that connection to a place.’ It is this understanding that informs everything they do and is the inspiration for their show. But Booth adds a friendly word of warning: ‘Once you’ve touched the earth, it’s difficult to go back,’ she says. ‘You have to be careful you’re not sucked in too far…!’
Realising Landscape is at The Space at Caro, Grove Alley, Quaperlake Street, Bruton until 27 April