Shona Wilson: Collaborations with Nature

I first discovered artist Shona Wilson’s work on Instagram and became instantly transfixed by the body of work she’s compiled under the hashtag #collaborationswithnature. Each ephemeral image captures something of the truth and richness of the natural world, heightened ever so gracefully by Shona’s gentle touch. ‘Hmm, Shona seems like my kind of woman’, I thought to myself. I wanted to find out more, so I did.

#collaborationswithnature | Day 125 | 'Winged Wedge', feathers and borrowed landscape
#collaborationswithnature | Day 84 | 'Prised', twigs and agave attenuata

Shona is a visual artist who lives on the NSW mid north coast. A desire to explore and connect with the wonder of nature has fuelled Shona’s art practice over the last 25 years. ‘I have had a persistent conscious and unconscious desire all my life to find a sense of peace that is active and playful – a calm curiosity’, she says.

Nature, clearly, is Shona’s muse. ‘Nature’s materials are storehouses of knowledge, information and energy and have become like a ‘set of keys’ for me, unlocking doors to memory, science, history, imagination and spirit’, she says. ‘I have discovered the extraordinary in the ordinary, the magic in the everyday, and ultimately the immaterial in the material.’

After producing commercial/exhibition work for many years (Shona is represented by Arthouse Gallery in Sydney and Mossgreen Gallery in Melbourne), two years ago Shona returned to the idea of creating ephemeral artworks; borne of a desire to open up creatively and spiritually. She began a practice of producing one ephemeral artwork per day, with no real idea of where it would take her – Collaborations with Nature was born.

‘It all grew rather organically. I enjoyed the freedom of the process so much that I decided to make it a three month project. It then grew to one year, after I came up with some parameters to keep it achievable.’

This was the construct for Shona’s Collaborations with Nature project:

One ephemeral artwork a day for one year
Rain or shine
Tired or inspired
5 mins or 50
A daily practice….

Shona has since completed a full year of colour images posted daily on her Instagram account, and is currently at day 151 of her 2nd year, focusing on black and white rather than colour photography.

#collaborationswithnature | Day 50 | 'Galaxy', Casuarina needles on rock
#collaborationswithnature |Day 90 | 'Threaded, Woven', Monstera leaf and button grass

I asked Shona to explain more about her Collaborations with Nature project and her words are so lovely that I can’t edit them! Here they are:

‘I have learnt that for me, no-one or thing creates with more diversity, elegance or imagination than Nature, it is my teacher and muse and is infinitely inspiring! This is not romanticism, its reality. All that we know and are comes from the natural world.

Creating with and within Nature brings me moments of feeling whole, closer to experiencing a potent peace. I have made up a word for this state of being called pressence – experiencing the essence of the present moment or thing. This may sound very esoteric, but it is made simple by the practice. When working/playing with my hands it’s easier for my mind rest or float free.

I have learnt that my process and experience while making the work is really the work. Which brings me back to the concept of desire. Didn’t the Buddha say that desire is the root of suffering?

What I’ve been able to grasp when I’m making an ephemeral sculpture is a movement towards desirelessness – a freedom from attachments to outcomes, and an opening to new configurations and perspectives. Desirelessness allows me to learn from, or have a dialogue with, nature so that I may understand and appreciate it more fully – to expand my awareness/sensitivity, and to become present. My art has become my meditation practice. This has been such an unexpected gift!’

All of this brings me to one important point: Shona is doing a Collaborations with Nature workshop at Glenmore House on the 22nd of August. It sounds like a wonderful day of creative exploration, making art, eating, sharing, and connecting. Find out more info about Shona’s Glenmore House workshop HERE.

Check out this little vid about the Collaborations with Nature workshop concept by Shona:


#collaborationswithnature | Day 14 | 'Disappear', rocks and fern
#collaborationswithnature | Day 139 | 'Splayed Fan', Casuarina needles and borrowed landscape
#collaborationswithnature | Day 108 | 'Tunnel', Eucalyptus leaves and railway sleeper
#collaborationswithnature | Day 29 | 'Portal', twig and borrowed landscape