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Where is the Wild?

by James on May 11th, 2016

We had a week in Cornwall at Easter, with crashing waves, seals, gulls, sandy feet, and an overarching sense of the wild. (see my partner, painter Jonathan Mansfield’s Post)


What is it about being in West Cornwall rather than mid Wiltshire that allows me to sense the wildness? Is it because its different? At home do I not really see what is around me because it is there every day?

Pebble and rockIs it because of the rock-hewn and stone constructed nature of where we stayed, and the independently crashing waves and blowing wind that shapes the landscape and resists the control of humans?

Sketchbook on the beach

Whatever it is, when I got home it felt very tame. Where I live is quite heavily farmed, ploughed, controlled. There is wildness in the details, but the overall sense is of a flattened place, simplified and tamed.

I decided to make more of an effort to seek out the wilder elements of my home patch, starting by getting a sense of what happens at night. The night feels less under our control, the lights of my village don’t do much to interrupt it and the animals of the night leave behind their tracks and signs.


I’ve started to use a trailcam/camera trap more regularly and am exploring how to use the imagery in my artwork. So far I’ve ‘caught’ the odd badger, whilst otters and other animals are continuing to evade me, but that’s okay, if it was easy there wouldn’t be the thrill of the chase, the sense that the night is owned by other forms of life, and somehow inherently wild.

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