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Meet artist Liz Elton

‘Harvest’, Vegetable Dyes from Food Waste and Food Colouring on Compostable Cornstarch Food Recycling Bag Material, with Silk, St Saviour’s, Highbury, 2018

Liz Elton is an artist who makes work on compostable cornstarch, the material used to make food waste recycling bags, to think about our relationship with landscape, time passing, and the potential embedded in waste. This material is made from crops such as corn or potatoes, and she uses it not just because of its connections to land use, food and waste, but also because it is fragile and ethereal and floats like parachute silk with the movement of the air around it, which can be quite meditative to watch (links to videos of installed works are at the end of this post).

Recent works 'One Hundred Harvests' and ‘Harvest’, refer to research discussing how intensive agricultural methods have compromised the fertility of our soil so that it may only support a further one hundred harvests. Similar works look at landscape related themes further using vegetable dyes from food waste and food colouring as well as watercolours, earth pigments, food supplements, seeds and grains.

‘Hill’, Vegetable Dyes from Food Waste, Food Colouring, Water Miscible Oil, Silk, Cornstarch, Seeds from Native Medicinal Plants, shown in Yield at 163 Gallery 2019

‘Hill’ was shown in ‘Yield’ at 163 Gallery in Herne Hill in 2019 and was inspired by the bicentennial of the birth of Victorian art critic John Ruskin who lived in the Herne Hill area for over 40 years. Starting with a Google Earth image looking down on the many houses and gardens of Herne Hill, Liz constructed ‘Hill’ using compostable cornstarch food recycling bags coloured with vegetable dyes, food colouring and food supplements sewn together with silk, and impregnated the work with the seeds of native plants with medicinal qualities such as chamomile, yarrow and feverfew.

‘Hill’, Vegetable Dyes from Food Waste, Food Colouring, Water Miscible Oil, Silk, Cornstarch, Seeds from Native Medicinal Plants, shown in Yield at 163 Gallery 2019

Lockdown meant that Liz thought about her practice in a more intimate way, rooted in cooking, growing vegetables, making compost, giving plants away. She started a lockdown diary, photographing kitchen waste on its way to the compost bin - onion skins from a rescue box bought when the local market re-opened, flowers brought back from a funeral when they couldn’t be given away. There are twelve images in the diary at the moment, and they will continue to be added to.

Selected Images (12 images can be seen on Liz’s website) from an ongoing diary photographing kitchen waste on its way to compost. Archival quality pigment prints on Hahnemuhle, 2020, each 19x14.5cm, edition of 30.

You can see more of Liz’s work on her website lizelton.com or her Instagram account @liz_elton

All images copyright Liz Elton