WILDING is a body of work that was begun in 2020. It is a response to the Knepp rewilding site in West Sussex, and takes its name from the book Wilding by Isabella Tree, which tells the story of the Knepp project.
Living in a technologically advanced, 21st-century culture, I am sheltered in a home, within a city; I make a phone call and meals appear at my door. I am removed from the natural environment and the survival of my body is not a daily preoccupation. My economic circumstances are the framework for my safety. Living in the wild, I must shelter myself from extremes of heat and cold; find water and food; I see my breath on the cold air, I am soaked to the skin, frozen stiff, the wind blows through me and the sun beats down on me. The elements persecute me and I risk expiration. I am close to a corpse. I need shelter, I need a plan and I need my own kind. I separate myself from the wild to protect myself from death. I need borders, physical and psychological, and so begins in culture, a separation from wilderness, but also from the body, as the primary locus of our own wildness.
Wild is an expression of freedom, it animates the natural world, it is high winds and high spirits, unpredictable and shapeshifting; we rise to meet it with fear, and definitions of the wild describe our lack of control over it. Wild is the un-discovered land, the un-cultivated plant, the un-tamed animal. So the wild becomes other, but I resist this being at odds with the wild. My own wildness is in the body and the imagination, it is close by; not beyond, but within.