The Wild

Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman

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Saturday 11 July – Saturday 15 August 2009

The Wild, by Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman was commissioned by Crescent Arts, and shown for the first time at Crescent Artspace in the summer of 2009. The artists have since been long-listed for the Northern Art Prize in Leeds for this and other recent work.

The Wild combined several elements which, at first sight, may have seemed rather unlikely. Cacophonous sounds of rock bands filmed and recorded in rehearsal; a reconstruction of the cabin built by the American writer Henri David Thoreau (originally on the banks of Walden Pond in Massachusetts in 1845); a tree-like hoarding construction; leather motorbike jackets painted with animal motifs.

The Wild centred on the work and ideas of the American writer Henri David Thoreau, and his resistance to the increasingly materialistic society of mid-nineteenth century America by constructing and living in a small cabin near Walden Pond – supposedly back to the wilderness, but in fact quite close to home.

Rushton and Tyman reconstructed Thoreau’s cabin in Scarborough earlier in 2009, in the grounds of Wood End, and upcoming rock bands from the area were invited to rehearse inside the cabin. This was filmed and recorded to form part of their installation at Crescent Artspace at Wood End.

Thoreau’s texts, ‘Walden’ and ‘Civil Disobedience’ have been influential on the study of natural history and philosophy and on environmentalists, thus linking to the history of Wood End and its former life as a Natural History Museum. The Wild was installed in what was the conservatory of the Museum, dating back to the original occupancy by the Sitwell family. As a conservatory it brought ‘nature’ of a kind indoors (in this case ‘one of the most flourishing palms in England’), and acted as a habitat for exotic animals and birds. This was mirrored by the tree-like construction which the artists installed in the space and festooned with leather jackets collected from all corners of the globe. Leather jackets with painted animal motifs – bringing to mind and association with their history as iconic symbol and expression of rebellious anti-social behaviour, linked inextricably to popular culture (cinema and music in particular) and agitation for social and political change.