This season we look to the natural world, seeking our own inner connection and response to the wild that surrounds us.
To celebrate this, we invited you to share your responses to our seasonal theme, Rewilding, through a piece of artwork or photograph. We saw a range of wonderful, creative works that captured the push and pull of nature or were inspired by the living world.
The winning entry came from London-based artist Zena Holloway. Zena captured her fascinating root sculptures in ethereal photographs. Below, she gives further insight into her winning work, which will be displayed in the window of a TOAST shop. We also talk to the two runners-up, Vivienne Schadinsky and Carmel Lousada, about the inspiration behind their pieces, which will also be displayed. Then, there are words from three of our finalists.
Zena Holloway - Winner
In 2018 I grew the first root test with grass seed and I’ve been growing roots ever since; I’m currently on planting test number 98. It takes just 12 days for the wheat grass seed to grow long enough to be harvested into structures and wearables. The ingredients are just seed, water and a little time. Water run-off is captured and reused so water consumption is kept to a minimum. There are no pollutants during the process and all the ingredients are 100% natural and compostable.
I’m a self-taught London artist and photographer generally found working in underwater environments. My photographic practice focuses on environmental issues that connect people to oceans, rivers and lakes. While roots nourish and sustain plants and trees on land, coral reefs do the same for the oceans, providing an ecosystem that supports a quarter of all marine life. I use biomimicry to grow coral shapes and textures in a bid to champion ocean conservation and expose the beauty and vulnerability of coral in light of recent bleaching events. I hope it will inspire us to rewild our oceans.
Vivienne Schadinsky - Runner Up
The complexity of the environmental crisis challenges me to find my voice and depict the familiar flowers and plants that might be soon lost forever. Once I have observed and researched the flora, I like to use Japanese sumi ink. I like that I can evoke the feeling that the plants are fading. The environmental topic has an urgency.
I painted the white truffles in my North London studio as a part of my project looking at endangered plants in our food chain, titled Magic Hour. They can’t be cultivated and have become very rare and are in some places already extinct. They only grow in a few regions in Italy and central Europe and the main reason for their decline is climate change. Without fungi, nutrients would not cycle through the ecosystem, causing the breakdown of the entire food chain. If my work manages to help reconnect us with the natural world, then we might become a bit closer to realising that the health of our planet should be our first concern.
Carmel Lousada - Runner Up
As a hobbyist tree grower, I often think about how the tree saplings will re-forest a piece of land, and what it will look like in years to come. Walking through London I was inspired by how someone had made a flower haven on their balcony, that the act of transformation can happen anywhere. I submitted this photo as it was eye opening for me to see rewilding in the depth of a city. I live in south-west England, with tree nurseries in Bristol and Cornwall. Working in communications for a cooperative, I love exploring how to share the stories of people and landscapes getting to know each other again.
Daniel Farò - Finalist (Above left)
I’m a freelance photographer with Italian and German roots. I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Sicily and I currently call Berlin my home. Through my work I want to show the viewers an insight into a life through a dream-like lens, almost like a cinematic experience of my existence and my view of the world.
The image was taken at Bagni di San Filippo in the Orcia Valley, Tuscany. During a road trip with friends we relaxed in the warm waters of the natural springs. The limestone in the water that cascade down the hills forms limestone formations where algae and shadows of the trees create beautiful abstract paintings. Nature in its untouched form is an inspiration for humankind. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be surrounded by it.
Janie George - Finalist (Above right)
I have a bright studio in an old carriage works, looking over a lively area of Bristol, England. From my window I see the city below and the Somerset hills in the distance. I can hear ambulance and police sirens, locals and students partying, and at the same time I can see the weather blow in across the sky. Weekends in the winter are very quiet and these are my favourite days to work, as the shadows lengthen.
I’m lucky that I had a childhood roaming the woods and fields of the West Country. Wild flowers, butterflies and stones are the first things I remember drawing. A painting often starts with a strong sense of a colour and a feeling that goes with it. Blue is a signifier of deep calm and a dream state. The softness and low frequency of blue is in itself a rewilding of the spirit. The idea of a moth in the evening in all its mystery and the hidden and delicate power of pollination have always been a strong inspiration.
Anya Wilding - Finalist
Nature is the most significant component to all the creative work I produce. Focusing on capturing diverse texture and colour through photography with a fine art background has been a really interesting route to explore. As I often use my own photos as references for paintings and sculpture, capturing detail that flows through a single frame in a way that creates a narrative is very important. Although originally based in Hampshire, England, I travel a lot in my van to seek new landscapes, rivers to swim in and hidden coves filled with rich coastal textures. I have now moved to Cornwall to study photography.
In response to the theme of rewilding I focused on seaweed, the vivid yellows and oranges that were strewn across dark volcanic rocks where swell lapped at the grey sands of Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye. Seaweed is also responsible for sequestering around 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide globally each year and seems to be overlooked as a way to help mitigate climate change through regenerating seaweed forests and farms. There is so much potential with this wonderful plant, and I hope to explore more into this area of marine biology to accompany my creative work inspired by it.
Zena's winning entry was selected from a thoughtful and creative collection of artworks and photographs. Thank you to all of you who entered and shared your images and inspiration with us.