Deborah Land

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen”
Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac.

“I have a profound and deep connection with my environment, and nowhere more so than when I am amongst the mountains. Ever present in the landscape, they silently bear witness to changes brought about by human activity. Feeling safe amongst their towering buttresses I can lose myself, if only for a moment and just be present.

Viewing the landscape as an ecologist allows me to look beyond the surface, to see the detail of individual flowers, grasses and mosses, but to also read the geology and formation of the mountains. With this comes an appreciation of both the beauty and the degradation of our most precious landscapes.

It is this sense of place, and awareness of our impact on the planet, that drives my passion and inspires me I do all I can to look after this small blue dot. Like many, the global pandemic made me stop long enough to re-evaluate the way I live my life and notice what is really important to me. Beyond my work, two things became overwhelmingly apparent.

My first love was reignited. A lapsed potter, lazy and inconsistent sketcher, I was encouraged to channel some energy back onto the potter’s wheel. From this, I devised a style of ceramics that reflected my passions. My yoga practice, now reduced to a collection of small figures on a screen, kept me grounded and they became a kind of extended family, checking-in 4 to 5 times a week.

It will not be a surprise that my love for the mountains inspires my art. I love the raw nature of pottery. It comes from the earth and is born of fire. The glazes, crushed rocks and minerals, fire to create the impression of snow, ice or an interpretation of the metalliferous mining history of the Lake District. The forms are simple and the decoration minimal.

My Artful Walk took me to a reservoir at the head of a valley, which provided the water to flush out the minerals from the many mines dotted along the flanks of Scope End. The impact of mining on Borrowdale is stark to the knowing eye; this landscape speaks history to those who take the time to slow down long enough to know it, and to listen. Skiddaw, like many of its neighbours stands denuded of trees and stripped of its peat, removed for firing the metal ore furnaces that once surrounded in Keswick.

As the world slowly tiptoes its way back to a form of ‘normality’, I hold hope that the slower and quieter pace of life prevails. That I, like so many, continue to stop long enough to enjoy the sense of place in which I stand, holding on to the knowledge that this land we call home does not exist for us to own and exploit. Climate change presents a huge challenge, but through connection with nature I remain hopeful that this small blue dot will remain beautiful, and we will thrive with it.”

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.

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