Discovering Life at the margins: LTTS Interviews Artist Victoria Lucy Williams

In this interview with Victoria Lucy Williams, we uncover the powerful thoughts and processes behind the artist’s work Betwixt in our current exhibition Intertwine Our Branches. Making visible the non-human and inanimate world, Victoria brings light to the margins, revealing how we are all deeply intertwined with each other and nature.


You can read more about Betwixt in our exhibition here, see more of Victoria’s work here and follow them on Instagram here.




How did you start your practice and what drew you to these multifaceted relations between humans and our environments?

Both stemmed from a fascination for biodiversity from my childhood. During this time I had a book on the Amazon rainforest. Within the front cover of this book, resting in a hollowed-out area, was a detachable magnifying glass. I remember turning page after page of this book, looking. It depicted detailed lush green hand-drawn and painted illustrations of the Amazon rainforest, and there, hidden amongst these forested pages were tiny drawings of the wildlife occupants, with information about the creatures on the following pages.


As the animals were so small, it was a sort of amazement I felt inside as I began to comprehend the idea of the scale and vastness of these regions. You had to look quite carefully to spot them. I carried on this way of looking into the garden and into the woods and all over, observing all those small things hidden amongst the tree bark, grasses and water bodies.


Then later, you begin to understand that the world is really busying away - from the small, the soil, microbes, the not-quite-visible realms, the ecosystems outside and inside of us. They are making thoughts fire off inside us, soon realising that all these interwoven ecosystems, all the minute changes to the environment of the small effect the whole picture and our understanding of the wider world.


The non-human world is so often marginalised, why did you decide to centre it as part of your work Betwixt?

What we have seen throughout history and continuing up until now is that this anthropocentric perspective we sometimes have as humans means placing high regard on some lifeforms and not so much on others. This system of value, usually based on our living conditions and needs solely, takes precedence instead of taking into account other species’ needs and considering what and who we share with.


It seems that this has caused an unmaking of many biodiverse regions on earth, making some inhospitable, even for water. This collapse of vast interconnected systems and land and species die-off strikes me as an area and relationship with land that needs to be tended to.


As with most of us, bearing witness to the recent Australian and ongoing Amazonian fires drew me into this discussion of loss we are having with one another and our non-human families. Sitting with the emotions that arise from that, and thinking of what next to do with them. It is a grief, the layers of that which raised us into beings becoming buried beyond any measure of soil. As this accelerates to such an extent, all is now being revealed in movements made by all species, including humans, into a motion of unprecedented paths and what at times feels like an unfamiliar sudden shift in time.


This collapse of vast interconnected systems and land and species die-off strikes me as an area and relationship with land that needs to be tended to.

We love that you emphasise the power of our bodies coming together as a form of activism. How does your work move towards climate intersectionality?

My work aims to explore areas that overlap and loop, especially the human and non-human worlds. An exploration or thought experiment into thinking about and seeing the way things are interacting all the time, subtle and unsubtle worlds. We see things that happen within nature and then we see other things happen to nature - happenings that are perhaps caused by a certain way we as humans have been doing something. These overlap and interrupt into each other forming new routes, thoughts, meanings, and outcomes.


There is something to being in an environment without knowing and doing. Often we know a lot of what is about to happen in our modern way of life due to patterns as humans we have kept up with for a very long time: the seasons, migrations, down to operations in society, as we exist in fairly controlled environments where our actions are our daily routine... that is, up until now.


When we go to a place, or put our bodies in a place of unpredictability where the air temperature may change or we much have an encounter with a non-human lifeform, we are once again back to where we once were as humans, in our sensing animal bodies, in a place of not being able to predict an outcome.


There is a certain level of comfort to predictability, yet at this moment in time we are overlapped and intertwined into many areas of uncertainty. Unable to predict the future for so many lifeforms is uncertain.


The ants in the film were on a path at the front entrance to what once would have normally been a busy leisure centre, now closed due to the pandemic. Their world had sprung up in what three months ago would have been an impossible region for them to navigate. Due to this reconfiguration of routine, microworlds and other worlds had shifted.


When we go to a place, or put our bodies in a place of unpredictability where the air temperature may change or we much have an encounter with a non-human lifeform, we are once again back to where we once were as humans, in our sensing animal bodies, in a place of not being able to predict an outcome.

What are the injustices that come up in your work, and how do you challenge them?

It is again much like what we see in the non-human world - there are still many events occurring that we do not know or could see the outcome of, but what exactly is the outcome? We can just see the happening, and maybe we think about the outcome more because outcome and product are what we value most in society.


These are practices and thoughts we have obtained and kept over a long time.

Yet, maybe when we stop thinking of outcomes, we will become something else. I think looking and imagining a system of connectivity that is more inclusive of our thought processes without hoping or expecting an imagined outcome could perhaps be a useful tool for navigation. From where we are existing right now, perhaps new paths and areas of connectivity will emerge when we are no longer in a state of hoping for a particular outcome.


I think to challenge injustices we have to be open to new ways of imagining and seeing. I think practices such as trying to imagine the world from the perspective of another being, human and non-human, as well as listening and seeing the stories or narratives of others, are all important. To shift our consciousness into trying to imagine the consciousness of others and how they interject with one another. We can imagine this and tell and share these as stories and art. Opening discussions. Challenging the regular systems of how we normally operate to search for new ways in how to speak and share about our experiences. Much like Louder than the Storm.


I think to challenge injustices we have to be open to new ways of imagining and seeing.

Betwixt creates a powerful sensory environment, how do you think video and immersive artwork can help us reconnect to the environment?


I think immersive artwork allows us to shift our perspective into other ways of feeling and conscious thought, and reminds us that we are in a process of becoming, much like being in the presence of - and engaging with - another living being.


When we are immersed in a piece of art, or a space that ignites our senses and imagination, we are perceiving the body, our body not as separate or as object but engaged and active with what we are encountering; we are embodying images in our imagination and exploring felt experiences. We are of the land, the cartography, within it, we are looking at it and perceiving it through our bodies, and we are nature, it is us.


We are of the land, the cartography, within it, we are looking at it and perceiving it through our bodies, and we are nature, it is us.

For young creatives or anyone wanting to make environmental art, what’s the best way to get started?


I really enjoy keeping a research journal. I found that for me it was a good practice to get into. Your research can come from all over, from many different fields and interests, dreams, memories, interviews, film, etc.


That was the starting point for my practice, collating my research alongside making work. The two may feed into each other – or not at all.


For the work you make or plan to make, you can make notes afterwards reflecting on your own practice-based research.


I find that having things written down allows me to make, see, build on or feel connections between things that I have looked at or have thought about. You can take it with you wherever, make notes or draw. It is a useful process of recording your thoughts, ideas and seeing how they evolve over time.


Victoria was interviewed by Events and Outreach Lead, Mattie O'Callaghan.


#VICTORIA_LUCY_WILLIAMS #MATTIE_OCALLAGHAN

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