Christopher J. Castle
I am a British-born environmental artist and have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985.
I have exhibited widely in the U.S and Europe and my work is represented in major public collections such as the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, National Museums of Scotland and Wales, the Achenbach Foundation and many others.
The goal of my art is to express a deep sensibility to the subtle aspects of our experience of nature and the land. Through paintings, drawings and prints, and in public art works, murals and community collaborations, I explore nature and the perceptual aspects of holistic environmental awareness. The source of my work lies in my early exposure to the ancient landscape, archaeology, patterns and traditions of my native Britain and Europe.
Soil drawings and other recent work
My current work is an ongoing series of drawings using soil samples from specific sites in cartographically-based drawings. The series aims to show the quality of "Li", the ancient Chinese concept for the dynamic pattern underlying natural form, present in the land. I make use of contour maps of the land to bring out the identifying Li at specific places and tell the story beneath the form of the landscape. Using the soil itself as the medium, I explore qualities of the locale that are subtle and the influences on our sense of place that go unnoticed. Reference is often made to the ancient and shamanic patterns of neolithic European sites and artifacts. Most recently this includes a growing body of work resulting from stays as artist in residence in a village in Romania where I have been studying the ancient Cucuteni culture and the painted monasteries.
I apply this mode of drawing on local distinctiveness also to my public art works. Recent works include a collection of ceramic tiles for a local elementary school. The tiles depict patterns drawn from cultures around the world, each one expressing something of the qualities of the geography, light and rhythms inherent in that culture and place.
My mural painting work is similarly informed by the specifics of the work's location, most recently in two works for the City of Martinez, CA, the first depicting John Muir welcoming a parade of indigenous animals set in the watershed of the local creek. The second, completed in July 2013, also based on John Muir and his legacy includes a range of maps of his travels combined with landscape and nature elements.
The murals are part of my continuing project “Mapping the Soul of the City” that has been conducted in several Bay Area communities including Point Reyes Station, Sausalito, Richmond and Berkeley.
Alongside my work as an individual artist, I teach environmental art classes as an Artist in the Schools for several organizations including the Richmond Art Center and Kala Art Institute.
Christopher Castle 2013