2020 was the tercentenary of the birth of British naturalist Gilbert White. To mark this, Pallant House Gallery planned an exhibition of artworks connected to White’s The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne alongside new commissions by contemporary artists.
I was delighted to be one of the artists invited by Simon Martin, director of Pallant House, to produce a new work in response to White’s book. The exhibition was titled ‘Drawn to Nature: Gilbert White and the Artists’.
As part of the commission I considered what Gilbert White would make of where we are today. I live on the low-lying Norfolk coast with little hope of holding back the sea from these flat lands. Much of the work I make addresses this key concern. It is a narrative that draws upon the past, the present, and considers the future. Norfolk is a fragile place; its temporality is magnified when considering the impact of climate change, rising sea levels and loss of coastal communities.
If Gilbert White was here today, the Attenborough of his time, he would mourn the predicted loss of the bumble bee, birds, the impact of climate change, loss of habitat, biodiversity, and would be in tears for what is now only beginning to dawn upon us. Gilbert White is more relevant now than ever…