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23 Jan 2023

Field Notes: The art of the possible

Self-guided John Muir Award participant, Ruth Bateman, reflects on their journey of achieving the Conserver Award.

Ruth Bateman - Image 1

An artist’s perspective of the world is often a mystery to the observer. What is it that inspires a thread of enquiry? In my instance it is our wonderful landscape. This beautiful canvas, nature’s own painting, acts as my artistic nourishment; it opens up a vortex of emotions and questions leading to exploration and discovery. 

As an artist I NEED to paint. Just like a plant needs water to grow, I need this wilderness and connection in order to articulate and express my voice with painting acting as my visual language.

John Muir was an artist and like me he forged a deep connection with nature. He found solitude in the mountains and inspiration in the expansive vista’s of open plains; a deep sense of belonging interwoven with a wish to protect, conserve, discover and explore. 

 Like John, I thrive on pushing myself beyond my comfortable zone to live and see in a different way. Undertaking expeditions allows me to experience new places and explore myself; they allow me to act as an advocate for change and hopefully, through my paintings,  inspire others to carry on what John started; to discover, protect, conserve and share. 

Ruth Bateman - Image 2

A small selection of paintings in progress, much of my John Muir Award has helped influence the direction of the work on my evolving project to date. 

My proposal for the John Muir Conserver Award was to cycle the length of the Outer Hebrides, to be self-sufficient and to leave as little trace as possible. I wanted to experience the magnificence of the landscape and to push myself physically (I ended up fracturing my collarbone a week before starting but through the power of positive thought and willpower I completed the expedition regardless.) 

 With so many visual resources, the mountains, the peaty moors, coves, long expansive sand dunes, it was an artist’s cornucopia of stimuli. But juxtaposed against this natural beauty, the destruction and desecration of these delicate landscapes by man’s actions could not be ignored. To see this first hand has fuelled my desire to create a body of work that illustrates the truth, increases our awareness and compels us to take responsibility.  I am just a painter but I am one who seeks to fight for our world. I have a bike, a paintbrush and a passion so fierce it won’t be dampened. I firmly believe that we can all follow in John Muir’s quest… it really is the art of the possible. 

Hand and flowers - David Lintern

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