Worlds Beyond View

The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum in Rome, the soil beneath our feet … The last of this list sits strangely with the other great achievements of humankind. However, according to writer and environmental activist George Monbiot, it has just as much right to be claimed as a Wonder of the World, if not more, as “an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of our imagination.” Soil provides 99% of our food and yet we see it as mysterious – unknown to us. Society has never been less connected with land than we are today. We log onto websites, choose food on screens, and have it delivered to us as if by magic, wrapped in plastic. With the year-round availability of imported foodstuffs, there is no longer a need to understand and properly identify crops, weather patterns or species. But, disillusioned by the spoils of capitalism, many artists are seeking to bridge the gap through creativity.

The idea of hinterlands – the land away from the coast or the banks of a river – is at the core of BALTIC’s new show, which explores what lies beyond the visible or known, attempting to use art to bring us closer to nature. The exhibition, which centres the North East of England as its starting point, considers place as a complex layering of relationships. A range of artistic approaches is taken, from an opera inspired by the River Tyne, to a photographic sculpture meditating on the “more than human” and large-scale textiles that consider the intersection of spiritual traditions, storytelling and rituals rooted in landscape. Elsewhere, Dawn Felicia Knox considers the removal of toxic residues – installing live ferns within the gallery. | Until 30 April

Image Credits:
1. Dawn Felicia Knox, Felling, Ferns 2022. Film still. Courtesy the artist.
2. Alexandra Hughes, Seep (Pool), 2021. Lightbox with mixed media. Courtesy the artist.