Ariadna Dane on Organic Wreaths and Imitating Nature
Meet Ariadna Dane, UK based artist and winner of Zealous Stories Mixed Media. Through her upbringing in Siberia, Ariadna has discovered a deep-rooted connection to nature that is fundamental to her ever-evolving practice. Ariadna creates organic forms that are reminiscent of celestial structures, coral wreaths and woodland. Each element is entirely unique and cannot be repeated.
Hi Ariadna, congratulations on winning Zealous Stories Mixed Media! Your winning body of work, Organic Wreaths involves experimentation to imitate and amplify nature. Could you explain the creative process used to achieve this visual connection?
My creative process has a lot to do with the choice of materials and techniques. To be able to create organic textures and shapes, I am using materials that can evolve on their own, with me being able to direct, but never fully control them. The process of creation is akin to a dialogue between the medium and myself, where each of us constantly responds to the movements of the other.
This has a two-way significance: first, this allows me to create elements with natural qualities, unlike anything that I would have been able to produce only by my own actions. Each element is completely unique and cannot be repeated, just like in nature. Secondly, I feel that the choice of materials and the process is symbolic of nature’s qualities, being uncontrolled and unpredictable.
When I paint, my imagination creates all sorts of textures and forms, which although influenced by nature, are not necessarily anything I have seen before. Sometimes it feels like the things I create could be otherworldly creatures or plants that lie beneath the ocean and have not yet been discovered. This instills a sense of wonder that I hope to communicate to the viewer. The same sense of wonder that you feel when you truly connect with nature, or when you see something beautiful for the first time.
I also work more figuratively, purposefully trying to replicate a texture I have seen in nature. You can often find me taking close-up photos of stones, moss, tree bark or shells for future reference.
You describe your travels and upbringing in Siberia as inherent to your practice. Could you tell us a little more about how these experiences shaped Organic Wreaths?
I think part of it is subconscious and outside of my awareness. Someone recently suggested that the white space I leave is connected to the vast snowy area of Siberia.
Growing up in a place where the temperatures plunge to below minus 40 has made me both respect nature, and at the same time appreciate just how powerful and merciless it can be. There, unlike anywhere else I have been, I felt vulnerable in the face of its manifestations.
Travelling has allowed me to experience the diversity of nature and the different ways in which it shapes and influences us, our culture and our way of life. It is this interconnectedness of everything in nature, including us humans, that comes through in the Organic Wreaths.
A wreath is a shape where each element is connected to the other. You may notice that sometimes my wreaths contain a gap, which is not a coincidence, it is symbolic of the disconnect that exists to a certain extent between humans and nature.
The element of chance plays a large part in the outcome of the celestial forms. Is this lack of control over the final composition a significant part of your creative process?
As I touched upon earlier, it helps me achieve more organic forms and textures. Additionally, it is in our nature to want to control everything. The prospect of losing control is terrifying, so making work that I can’t quite control is a very therapeutic experience. I relinquish control and it is ok – in fact it can be wonderful… Plus, there is always an element of surprise that is fun and playful. I feel there is not enough of playfulness in our lives.
Your other body of work Basal Elements draws inspiration from fossils, minerals and organic cells. Are a lot of your influences embedded within science?
It is more about the idea of basic life forms. I wanted to create work reminiscent of the more basic, primitive life forms. An allusion to something that takes roots in the past and is connected to the source of life. Hence a limited choice of colour palette and shapes. My compositions create an illusion of movement, an emphasis on change, progress and evolution.
It would be great to hear a little more about the materials and techniques that you work with. How do you decide which ink is best suited to your process?
I have chosen the materials through experimentation. Organic Wreaths are made with alcohol-based ink and Basal Elements are made in India ink.
For the latter, I create puddles of water on paper and then repeatedly dip ink and soap in a puddle. The two react by producing curious looking textures that I can never quite control. This technique is influenced by Suminagashi, an ancient Japanese paper marbling technique. It is a very meditative process.
In addition to what I touched upon earlier, I like alcohol ink as it is a relatively new and under-appreciated material and I feel that there is a lot of scope for experimentation and finding new ways of working with it. On the other hand, India ink has existed for thousands of years, which again comes back to the idea of the roots and the basics – the underlying theme of the Basal Elements.
I noticed that you have written about the impact of motherhood on your identity. What advice would you give to other artists who are trying to create a balance between family and finding the time to be productive?
I still have not quite figured it out myself. My daughter is one and it has been the most wonderful and challenging year – not least because motherhood is unrelenting, and it is difficult to find time for anything else. Being an artist, you often need time and space to really immerse yourself in your work and you also need to be very self-motivated. When you have a small baby, it can get difficult.
What I am striving to achieve is being kinder and more forgiving to myself, making a habit out of doing something creative, however small, each day and appreciating every moment.
Do you have any plans to pursue a new body of work in 2019?
I look forward to experimenting with new ways of using alcohol inks and taking my work to new scales, both in terms of size and substance. I have only recently become a professional artist, having previously had another career.
2019 will be the year were I continue to establish my practice and find new platforms to exhibit my work. It is also the year to find ways to use social media in a sustainable and meaningful way.
Winning Zealous Stories was a wonderful start to the year and I hope it will continue on the same note.
Ariadna’s work, Organic Wreaths was selected by industry guest judges from Artists’ Collecting Society, Leyden Gallery, BEERS London, Surface Gallery and The Biscuit Factory.
Ariadna also won a £50 Voucher for Jackson’s Acrylics and Acrylic Mediums, an annual magazine subscription and a National Art Pass.