Living Pandemic Nature Masks
Artist Bio and Inspiration: Through her practice Estelle Woolley often explores ways that we work with or against nature; how we react and intervene, and how nature responds back at a domestic level and beyond. Through a minimal and poetic use of materials, which are often very fragile, she questions possible narratives and layers of meaning. By subtle manipulation, she hopes to renew a sense of curiosity, while always highlighting the beauty inherent in the forms used.
Over lockdown, she has produced a series of photographic self portraits wearing facemasks composed of delicate and ephemeral natural materials. These have been collected from her daily walks, where she has been homing in on her immediate surroundings, paying close attention to the plant life as it comes in and out of season.
Spending lockdown in the Cheshire countryside on her parent’s farm, Estelle has been immersed in the changing seasons. Rainbow Meadow was created in late Spring, when many different coloured wild flowers and grasses began to emerge in the hedgerows, such as pink campions, buttercups, bluebells and forget me nots. As one of her earlier masks in the series, Rainbow Meadow was made during a time when every Thursday evening the country went outside to clap and show their support for the NHS. The rainbow became a symbol of this support, which inspired the thinking behind the mixed colour palette.
Sneeze, was created from fragile dandelion clocks, aptly titled, as we imagine these seed heads gently blowing around in the wind, spreading innocently and invisibly, like a virus. Dandelions are also a symbol of emotional healing and represent overcoming challenges, which we have all risen to this year, on a global scale.
The natural world provides a lot of our medicines and remedies yet these are far removed from a clinical setting, juxtaposed with a surgical mask; a sight with which we are all so familiar with in the current climate. The plants act as a natural filter; they give us oxygen so that we can breathe through them; they give us life. The masks also aim to question whether the spread of the virus is nature’s way of retaliating and teaching us to care for our environment more, to slow down and pay attention to the world.
Estelle Woolley gained her Degree and Masters in Fine Art from The University of Chester, UK. She recently gained highly commended in the Sustainability First Art Prize with her moss mask self portrait ‘Breathe’, was picked up as axis art highlight of the week with her foxglove mask ‘Poison’, featured in the Wales Arts Review, the New York Magazine, and the front cover of the Ty Pawb Open with her image ‘Rainbow Meadow’.
Estelle Woolley is one of many talented artists that are showcasing their work on fuconomy.com. If you found this work inspiring and want to see more pandemic art, head to the pandemic artwork page, or try work from another artist, Ruben Chavez. Or if you want to share your own work and have fuconomy showcase it, please complete the submission form.