Chris Drury is a British land artist who “has had a prolific career exploring, shaping and presenting nature with exceptional creativity” (Ross, 2012). Drury was Born in 1948, Colombo, Sri Lanka and studied a Diploma in Art, Design and Sculpture at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London from 1966-1970 (Warrington, 2006). Drury’s bodies of work include ephemeral assemblies of natural materials that he finds around him. He has travelled all over the world to do his artworks and was quite regularly commissioned for his excellent originality and talent. I think Drury’s work is an excellent example of artworks that promote green awareness by connecting nature and people. “Chris Drury concentrates on the interaction between nature and people, fungus and the human body” (Gooding & Furlong, 2002).
In Drury’s Portrayal of Poison Pie he has a hidden meaning. When you look at the artwork from a distance it looks like the underside of a mushroom with carefully drawn lines in white ink. Most people would say, yes cool a mushroom, but it’s just another ephemeral artwork. However when you look closely, only then can one know what strenuous amount of work would have gone into this piece of work and learn of the artworks double meaning. The radiating lines in white ink are in fact a handwritten list of all the poisonous fungi in Britain and their effect on the human body. The fungi names are written in Latin and their biologically correct names. Drury says himself that, “mushrooms are the great recyclers of our ecosystems” (Gooding & Furlong, 2002). They break down dead matter back into soil. They can also get rid of any coliforms from animal excrement (Grover, 2011).
Drury also says “there is nowhere you can go that hasn’t been touched by man, and I think you shouldn’t start from the premise of cutting man out because we are nature, and that’s what interests me” (Gooding & Furlong, 2002). Drury’s work is about correlations in life. He concentrates on encouraging the peaceful association between nature and humans. Drury’s work “makes connections between different phenomena in the world” (Berner, 2011). I think Poison Pie is about promoting mushrooms and their ability to recycle and clean the environment that humans have degraded. I also think the artwork is about how humans and nature are connected.
Drury’s rural upbringing is evident in his works. He often talks about his love for taking time away from the cities where he can contemplate. Drury is fascinated by mushrooms in particular. He would regularly collect rare mushrooms, sit them on a piece of paper and cover them over night. He would then come back and there would be an imprint of the spores on the paper (Gooding & Furlong, 2002). This is what creates the eye manipulating focal point in Poison Pie. The handwriting that radiates from the spore then captures the viewer’s attention drawing them outward and clockwise around the edge (Robert, 2011). Drury has successfully created a positive shape by using the contrast of the black card with the white handwriting. The beautiful texture of the handwriting has also created lines that resemble the underside of a mushroom.
Poison Pie is Chris Drury’s way of communicating his fascination with mushroom and elaborating their role in the environment. He also connects his artwork to humans, which is an interesting angle, but fits in with Drury’s belief that humans are part of nature. “Mushrooms can feed you, kill you or cure you” (Gooding & Furlong, 2002). Poison Pie demonstrates this statement perfectly. Drury has used his “exceptional creativity” (Gooding & Furlong, 2002) to spark the viewer’s curiosity, so that he can successfully communicate that humans and nature are intertwined.
Berner, N. (2011, September 05). Joint blog 1. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from Art Experience: http://nicoleberner.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/joint-blog-1-vanderbilt-university.html
Gooding, M., & Furlong, W. (2002). Artists Land Nature. New York: Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers.
Grover, S. (2011, March 23). How Mushrooms clean up pollution. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from Tree hugger: http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/how-mushrooms-clean-up-pollution-kill-pests-and-recycle-nutrients-video.html
Robert, T. (2011, September 08). Cohen Memorial Hall Fine Arts Gallery: Vanderbilt University. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Art and Poetry: http://teddyrobert.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/cohen-memorial-hall-fine-arts-gallery.html
Ross, T. (2012, June 06). Chris Drury. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from Green Museum: http://www.greenmuseum.org/content/artist_index/artist_id_29.html
Warrington, V. (2006, June 04). Chris Drury Biography. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from Sidney Nolan Trust: http://www.sidneynolantrust.org/pages/documents/ChrisDruryBiography.pdf