Drawing and painting is one way I connect to the landscape, the other, more primal way is to pee in it. In spring and summer of 2013 I did both.
I explored rural South Northamptonshire to find places to sketch. I’d needed to get out of the studio, it was a way of trying to come to terms with my husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
When I paint I’m not illustrating an image, I’m searching for it. My paintings are mostly abstract looking and many themes for them have been in response to nature, not necessarily raw nature, but a nature filtered through social and cultural landscapes. Even so, a direct connection to nature is a way to be refreshed. This time the paintings were to appear less abstract than usual.
After I’d chosen a place to sketch in the landscape I’d check in Google maps to learn more about where I had been, with the new perspective I was inspired me to return to explore the additional things I had seen in satellite pictures. Going back to the same place meant I discovered new and often small things that make up a bigger picture, seasonal things that are so easily missed.
Hours spent sketching rural beauty was eventually interrupted by the need to pee. Not wanting to give up my too transient stake in the landscape just for a call of nature, I started to realise that peeing in the landscape is a more significant and strangely liberating experience.
Sensations of release and the relief of letting go felt close to being a mystical experience, as if the watery flow connected my body to the earth and the earth to my body in a very different way to any other. The term ‘call of nature’ took on new meaning; to pee was to leave my mark by merging my DNA with a specific location.
Peeing is one of the major ways some animals use to mark their territory to warn other animals away. If I was marking territory it wasn’t to warn others off; it was to connect, similar to making a mark on paper or canvas.
In the studio the coordinates for each landscape’s location were painted on to the canvas and became quickly hidden by layers of paint secret information, a cover-up of the exact location of my relief, my connection, and my call of nature.
Revealing the coordinates in the deliberately rough-hewn un-painting of that sector of the landscape was my final deed in each Call of Nature painting.
My husband died in January 2018.
Call of Nature journey paintings are acrylic paint on canvas.
Linda Sgoluppi – Call of Nature #1