Fergus Drennan

Fergus is a wild-food experimenter and educator. He’s appeared on TV (exploring extreme food alternatives), writes on foraging and is one half of the Foraged Book Project

How does making from the landscape connect us to the landscape?

One of the greatest threats to biodiversity is habitat loss; one of the greatest causes of habitat loss is a (human) lack of connection to and hence valuing of those habitats. Mindfully, gently, simply, and creatively making use of wildings for food, arts and crafts, shelter building, and clothing helps us develop a grounded sense of place and connection to our local surroundings. In turn our appreciation and valuing deepens in respect not just to the apparent external world, but also with respect to our inter-personal relations and personal sense of integrated well-being. In other words, there are juicy ripe blackberries in the hedgerow; I’m gonna eat some, might even make some jam………

What are your thoughts on the relationship between art and nature?

All and everything is in relationship, in connection, in changing, unfolding, becoming. Art is human perception, a separating out of figure from ground. It can be a deep, still and meditative contemplation, an aesthetic appreciation of both the perceived and of perception itself; more tactilely engaged and dynamic, art as a way of being, actively plays with the creation. Recently I painted fallen autumnal yellow gingko leaves on wild crafted mushroom paper using a yellow pigment produced entirely from the autumnal yellow leaves themselves, and bound with seaweed extracts. Painting from life, “Where”, I asked myself, “do authentic beauty, art, magic and alchemy lie…..in the created – the existing, perfectly formed gingko leaf itself, or in the process and manner of its reproduction; in both or in neither? What exactly is the relationship between art and nature?” Answers came there none, only pleasure in the moment, from moment to moment……

Wherein lies the beauty of foraging ?

My love of foraging is both vast and orchestrally nuanced, in other words, that love is complex, at times intensely sweet, delicious, and harmoniously melodic, the rhythms of heart and nature beating in time; on other occasions it’s a chaotic jarring cacophony of anxieties, contradictions and obsessions. And yet that in itself is what I love; that the radical grounding of a life orientated towards a respect, reverence, awe and playful engagement with the wild realms, with the natural world, can hold the existential and ontological uncertainties of being. At its sensual, intellectual, emotional and dynamically flowing best, foraging offers a unique opportunity for deep connection both within and without.

For more on Fergus visit http://fergustheforager.co.uk/

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