Integrating humanity with the environment through art

Integrating humanity with the environment through art

May 31, 2024Tracy Allan

Audrey Anderson, a South African artist now based in Nelson, New Zealand, has developed a unique artistic style that deeply explores the relationship between humans and their environment.

Her work delves into the concept of humans not merely interacting with but being an intrinsic part of the environment. She draws inspiration from Ian McGilchrist's "The Master and His Emissary," which examines the divided brain and its impact on our perception of the world.

Audrey and I quickly connect over our shared curiosity about the human brain—its capacity and limitations.

"We are the environment," Audrey states.

She explains that her landscape artworks often omit elements like the sky, focusing instead on details like footpaths, shadows, and light—emphasising that humans exist within their surroundings.

Throughout her 15-year career, Audrey has experimented with various artistic mediums, including pencil, charcoal, oil paint, bronze casting, and printmaking.

She has, however, gravitated towards ink, a medium that demands presence and precision. This approach reflects her belief that art is an act of mindfulness, requiring the artist to be fully engaged in the moment.

"With ink, you have to be very present—in the moment. You can't mess it up!" she says.

Much like her curiosity about the human/environment connection, Audrey rejects the idea that drawing and painting should be two separate disciplines. "It doesn't make sense!" she exclaims.

Congratulating her on a recent Tasman Art Award (2023), I ask Audrey about other milestones. She quickly suggests, "Being a full-time artist. I can look after myself."

While she has won several art awards, Audrey attributes these recognitions partly to luck.

Audrey's creative process is a blend of discipline and exploration. It begins with simple photographs that spark her imagination, allowing her to play with ideas. "It's simple, really. The wheels start turning. I have to be strict with my time, and sometimes you have to treat it like a job," she explains.

Balancing her art practice with a part-time job at Impressions art supply store in Richmond, Audrey remains disciplined while relishing the creative freedom it brings.

Anderson hopes her work resonates with other artists and audiences, encouraging them to see art as a profound human expression. "The reward is worth it when other people look at it. Discipline interlocks with the reward," she says.

Downplaying her influence, Audrey aims to have a lasting impact on the art world. She believes in the necessity of artists and poets for society’s cultural and emotional richness.

Keep an eye out for a Zine Festival later in the year.

Despite her achievements, she remains grounded, emphasising the importance of art’s role in human experience.