CATALINA CHRISTENSEN is an artist, a gatherer of pigments, and pigment-maker based in London, England. She gathers earth pigments in Columbia and combines indigo and metal powders to make new pigments in her studio/lab. She says the following of her work:
I have always felt powerfully connected to the natural world; ever since I can remember I have been attracted to and collected rocks and fossils, often wondering about all the stories they could tell.
As I grew older and travelled, I felt the need to see for myself wild locations, where nature is most visibly powerful and overwhelming; places like Antarctica, the Atacama Desert and the Arctic. Such places always profoundly affect me, fill me with joy and impress upon me the need to protect them, and to express to others their sublime beauty and the importance of preserving them.
In 2015, during my second year at City and Guilds Art School in London, while in Colombia, I visited the desert area where I used to collect fossils as a child and came across a site of ancient rock paintings and colorful rocks. I have always felt a very strong connection to the Earth and the pre-Columbian peoples that inhabited this area, and have always wondered about the need for humans to be creative and leave traces. This was a liminal moment; from then on I haven’t stopped collecting rocks to process my own pigments, which are used in my paintings and 3D pieces, and I have also started experimenting with flowers, fruits and vegetables to create colours. Thereafter, due to environmental concerns, I switched from oil painting to egg tempera painting and try to use natural materials to have a practice as environmentally neutral as possible.
I do believe that rocks/pigments are intrinsically linked with humans; it is a primal relationship, but most people are too busy and distant from nature to connect. That is why I always display my raw pigments, not just because they are beautiful in themselves, but also because I want people to connect with the Earth. It is quite incredible how people react! They are immediately drawn to these displays, and I like to think that for a moment they really reconnect with the pigments and the Earth. In my solo shows I particularly like to set up a working station for the earth pigments and metal pigments, to show the processes involved in making them.
The Wilderness Art Collective came about from the desire of Sam Gare, Luke Walker and myself to create a non-profit organization where artists, writers, poets, explores, etc. who are interested and inspired by the natural world, could collaborate and discuss our interaction with the environment, while encouraging preservation and re-engagement with the natural landscape. We are all volunteers and we hope to create awareness and inspire people to realise the value of and importance of preserving our natural environment.
Our first group exhibition “Landlines” will take place at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in September 2020. In conjunction with the exhibition, we have organized and event “Voices for the Wild” with inspirational speakers about personal experiences in nature and transformations in the wild. Both in aid of The Wilderness Foundation UK, which helps vulnerable young people, transform their lives through the power of wilderness.