"The fact is”, says Professor Richard Weston, “that nature is the earth’s greatest living artist. Always has been. Always will be.”
We have a deep rooted appreciation and instinctive response to nature, he reckons, that is more profound and ubiquitous than much man-made art. In fact, much “man-made” art originates in, and gets its power from, nature.
Artists and artisans, designers and manufacturers, “mimic” nature often without knowing it, and that’s one of the things that Biomimicry studies: how man mimics nature in art, product design and functional processes. What’s more, often the best “man-made” art, products and processes actually closely follow nature.
Indeed, the power of nature seems deeply embedded inside our heads in ways we are often not aware. Take colour and pattern: why do we like that one and not another? Why do we find that restful, and that disturbing? Why does that make us feel better and that not?
“What mankind first worshipped, and believed in, was the power of nature – and our ancestors invested power in particular places, rocks, trees, animals etc as animists do today. So we have a history of such beliefs, and if you believe in the efficacy of something enough, then it can produce ‘miracles’.
“Precious stones have always been seen to have particular power as well as beauty, and over time that power became shared and eventually transferred to the colour of those minerals, so it was not just opal that had power, but Opal Green, not just Turquoise but Turquoise Blue. Our responses over the generations have been transferred to those natural colours just as our brains recognise the patterns in minerals – banded agates etc – and respond to them as well”.
So it’s not a surprise, reckons Weston, that some mineral images stimulate such powerful and instinctive responses in us, and why everything that Weston does respects nature and its artistic talents!