Stuart Ian Frost is a British artist based in Norway. A sculptor and environmental artist, born in 1960, Stuart has decades of experience working with natural materials. He is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work can be found across the world from Peru to Mexico, Finland, Portugal and beyond.
The notion of “place” stands central in his artistic practice. It functions both as a theoretic and creative starting point. Throughout his artistic career, he has sought out specific places in countries across the world and carried out so-called site-specific projects. He has been searching for characteristics and qualities of each place, such as history, topography, architecture, culture, and specifically raw material. Like searching through ruins, he looks for anything that might be of interest. These relationships are generally the basis for the development of his artwork. He is interested in particularities of landscapes, the physical characteristic of natural objects and exclusiveness to one environment. Their associated culture, myths, and history are a common feature in his production.
Stuart is consistently faithful to the distinctiveness of raw materials and inner characteristics, while at the same time putting them through extensive procedures of transformation. The thought is that this concept will make it possible to see raw materials in a new way. In other words, there is a type of alienating process, which contributes to sharpen ones perceptions. At first glance, what is encountered is not what on further investigation is revealed.
A quote from Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist) can also give an understanding and illustrate this approach:
“There is an anesthetic of familiarity, a sedative of ordinariness, which dulls the senses and hides the wonder of existence…But we can recapture that sense of having just entered in on a life by looking at our own world in unfamiliar ways”
Stuart on Human Nature
My earliest memories of nature were Sunday walks picking blackberries that grew wild on the embankments of disused railway lines. Lines that cut their way through and over the countryside, despite the obstacles in their way. Since those early encounters my exposure and pathway through nature has widened and the obstacles I have encountered have increased, in so many differing ways.
I have travelled through six continents constructing site-specific works from indigenous, locally sourced natural materials. Encountering along the way a wide variety of attitudes, understandings and relationships to the natural world, its plants, animals and minerals.
Using the methods of collection like an archeologist excavates a ruined site I do not discover the past but instead act as a mediator between past and present. I often closely scan the location looking and collecting materials of interest and abundance. Often discovering that common everyday mundane, unsympathetic, time consuming, rough and unsophisticated material, that I often find when least expected, are for me charged with a wealth of potential.
In Peru, I stumbled across a secluded beach covered in literally thousands of Pelican feathers, which I hastily collected to the astonishment of local onlookers. I later learnt that they saw no value in this treasure, the collection of cardboard yielded far greater wealth. What hit me was the realization that I was perhaps the only one who found such a natural “phenomenon” so inspiring. Strange to think in a country whose forbearers worked with the most exuberant, colourful, time consuming and exquisite feather works found now in Archeological museums in South America.
Through my acts, I establish connections, with these materials, working with them, conserving, recording, identifying, and transforming them into a narrative an account, site-specific installations.
My investigations into the make-up of natural materials and natural objects has taught me to respect and admire their unique qualities and to understand why they exist in the forms they do and the importance each and every one of them they play in the natural cycle of things. If we continue the way we are now, in the near future it may no longer be possible for us to enjoy the vital esthetic pleasure of experiencing nature’s wondrous and varied forms.
All too often, we encounter debris, washed up along the shoreline or carelessly dumped on what is most often termed/referred to as waste ground. Can we seriously afford to waste any more ground? These unprovoked acts constantly remind us of the lack of consciousness we humans have for our natural environment and the devastating effects this waste can have on our fragile ecosystem. A single feather possess little strength but when combined with thousands of others it can achieve flight.
Human existence is finely balanced; the survival of the living ecosystem…. all depends upon our relationship to it.