When the British artist, Justin Bateman, visited Chiang Ma, a city in mountainous northern Thailand, little did he know that he will get stuck there due to the pandemic, But a true artist seeks art in anything and everything, and he found it in pebbles while in that city. He started experimenting with stones and pebbles to create what he calls ‘land art’ and continues doing so to date.
The ‘land art’ of this outstanding artist is nothing but arranging pebbles into incredible mosaics. For this, he himself collects all stones and pebbles and puts them together into images. And he deliberately places his creations outdoors and not in any confined space for he agrees with artist Robert Smithson’s belief that a work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge and becomes a portable object or surface disengaged from the outside world.
Creating art with pebbles is nothing unique, but what is unique in Bateman’s art is its impermanence and, therefore, its non-salability. Just imagine this artist chooses to let his stunning artworks perish rather than conserve them. And he does so deliberately in stark contrast to most artists who strive to preserve their works for posterity. He gets his inspiration from meditation and also the monks who spend many hours creating sand mandalas, only to blow them away once complete. Impermanence is an important feature of his work and he calls pebbles are his pixels.
Those who wander around Chiang Ma or follow various forest trails on the outskirts of the city are certain to stumble across Bateman’s stone art at unexpected places. The size of his pieces may vary from one to five square meters. One look at them and it becomes obvious what a painstaking process it can be. It comes as no surprise that a typical stone art takes him anywhere between a day to weeks to create, depending upon its size and complexity. He plans to create far larger pieces in the future.
Bateman either creates his works in situ or in his studio from where he carries them to the site and reassembles them.
He records his artworks as pictures that he snaps and leaves the actual artwork at the mercy of nature, thereby leaving no physical trace of its presence.
Justin Bateman’s pebble art has featured on BBC radio, ITV, and Reddit Arts, amongst other international news outlets.