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Maayke Schurer's abstract climates

21 November 2009

Kinetic landscapes of beautifully phased movements of weather: Maayke Shurer's video work manipulates layers of aquaria, in which wool and fabric float and spiral, merged together by the camera into a 2D composition. The realism of the work is impressive; as Maayke describes, a background in biology has endowed her with a powerful environmental edge.

Spirits of Wasteland is a mesmerising piece. Your interest in landscapes; which landscapes have inspired you?
Whatever landscape I find myself in inspires me. Lately the semi-urban environments around Glasgow. There are a lot of green spaces with the contradiction of manicured maintenance and litter.

You've mentioned that you want to raise environmental respect. What are some specific environmental concerns you've encountered which triggered this motivation?
There are far too many to be specific.  My background in conservation biology would be a starting point for my immense concern and decision to take action. It was overwhelmingly depressing at first to learn about climate change, destruction of ecosystems and the subsequent global extinction of species- but then I decided to try and be positive and look at the 'here and now' wherever I happen to be at the time. Buddhism has had a fundamental role in transforming my outlook on the situation. I'd like as much as possible to work with a hopeful outlook.

What makes you eschew digital practices? Where has the desire for heightened experimentation with physical materials (you've mentioned wool, water, and 'aquaria') stemmed from?
The human has so much more potential than can be channeled by any single external device. Though a great tool, the computer and specific software effects are also an  immense boundary to the imagination and subsequent output. As a young girl I used to spin. I died my own wool with plants from my backyard and also loved weaving. The endless variations in colours and textures to be found from nature as opposed to synthetic dies and textiles gave me an enhanced awareness of the importance of the initial materials in the final product. Moreover, you wont find two colours in nature that clash. This is not the case with synthetic colours. So I believe strongly in the value of doing things by hand and working in a pure, simple manner. It's quite difficult to get rid of the taste of artificial sweetener in a batch of cookies!

Could you tell us a little about your previous works and how they have evolved?
I really am a painter and a musician.  For me, video is a more a way of putting these two together in a very powerful way. But it is limiting also. I'll get back to painting  eventually I think.

Do you see a harmonious relationship between built structures, with their shapes and forms, and the natural world, and its shapes and forms?
Just like the wasp nest, spider web and snail shell, I see all human-made forms as integral part of nature as opposed to separate. That is why I work the way I do. I want to change the way we look at what we as humans do, as inherently beautiful parts of 'nature'- warts and all, so to speak. In this way I hope we might be able to take
increased ownership for how we effect it.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently undertaking a residency in Holland at KIK: http://www.kik-site.nl/. It's an amazing opportunity. An old milk/cheese factory completely at my disposal. Quite a daunting task.

See Maayke's film in her NEU NOW portfolio  

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