Towards a Central Fire

Eleanora Jaroszynska, Sculpture and Environmental Art

Eleanora Jaroszynska, Winner GSA Sustainability Prize 2017

Environmental Art

“WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING” – Paolo Freire and Myles Davis

Environmental art, ecology and community.

Art can expand out of the gallery and into other spaces, taking on forms that engage with community and environment. As an artist I aim to explore, travel, learn, respond and create. The ‘field excursion’ is a very important part of my practice and takes the form of living life. The boundaries between art and life are blurred, and through personal experience I find my inspiration. I have embarked on journeys such as El Camino across northern Spain – starting on bike from Scotland to reach Santiago on foot; my time in New Mexico on the Land Arts of the American West course exploring the South West through the lens of art, ecology and activism; and local explorations of the Scottish landscape. There is a strong relationship between person and land within my work. As well as metaphoric exploration, I search for inspiration outside the world of art. Such as through a series of ten workshops that I took part in over the last year, called Field of Enquiry 2000m2: A group of thirty Scottish citizens came together for intensive workshops on all aspects of Scottish Agriculture. The purpose of these workshops was to build a body of knowledge to enable the writing of a Citizen’s Agricultural Policy for the Scottish Government. These experiences in interdisciplinary collaboration have been a great source of inspiration, which has informed the way that I make art.

Through my artistic practice, I explore our place within the natural environment and how food is our connection with earth and soil. Bread forms the base of our historical and contemporary diet all over the world, having been present in our diet for at least the last six thousand years. But, the art of baking bread is being forgotten in modern society. I can practice bread baking as an act of empowerment: bread connects us with the soil both historically and culturally – through the grains that we use, the water, the fire, the effort that we make, the community with whom we bake and share, and the microscopic world of the microorganisms that make the bread bubble and sour. When taken out into the natural environment baking bread becomes strongly shaped by time, temperature, weather, terrain, light and fuel. I allow my work to direct its own course and take me on a journey, in an attempt to stay open and to learn. I hope to engage an audience through this learning process, with these journeys and actions that offer it as a potential space to contemplate and reimagine day-to-day life. The journey is further guided and changed through people’s participation. I facilitate, bringing together ingredients, and as with the process of baking bread, I allow it to enrich and grow in the hands of others. I have come to appreciate the value of collective knowledge that empowers through sharing. My work is elemental: it focusses on research, practical work, pedagogical explorations, environment, journey, time and community. Solitary explorations are opened up and shared through engagement with others. I seek to create physical change through my metaphorical journeys within art. I believe in the importance of activating the artist beyond the gallery walls.

Throughout the last year I have embarked on a journey to build a permanent communal brick bread oven in Garnethill Park. This journey has brought me into contact with an extremely diverse range of people who hold a wealth of knowledge, which they have shared with me. It has been a strong learning experience for me and I have come to understand the potential for the artist to engage with the wider society and activate their artistic practice outside their ‘art world’. In our current global climate, I believe that the artist has potential to take a leading role in activating change and bringing new energy into areas of our communities where it may be needed. During my time at the Glasgow School of Art I created several projects, which I feel reflect this intention. Such as Throwawaygourmet, a project that I set up at the end of second year, and which has continued to run at the hands of students in the Art School. The project takes on the form of communal meals held fortnightly in the Art School, which are prepared and shared by the students. All food used to prepare the meals would otherwise go to waste. I learnt a lot through the setting up, running and handing over of the project, and the challenges that arose. My intention was to set up a system that was sustainable and would generate energy and collaboration between the students at the Art School, whilst raising awareness for the food that we waste. A similar theme has appeared in the bread oven project: the attempt to set up a self-sustaining system that generates energy and collaboration within a community. I believe that it is systems like this that steer us in a direction towards a more sustainable society and offer an alternative paradigm in which we can evolve beyond our somewhat lost social systems.

My experiences have helped me to begin to form an artistic practice, which I believe to be sustainable in its application, intention and the energy that it generates. At the end of my four years at GSA I am happy to know which direction I want to follow in art and I am excited to further explore the scope of an expanded artistic practice.