There is an intricate relationship that exists between the human race and nature, which is something Caitlin Hackett understands. What once began as harmonious became severely unbalanced as humans overtook the earth, but many have gone one step further to disassociate themselves from any relationship at all. Caitlin grew up among forests with a father who openly encouraged a respect for the natural world, and she has been lucky enough to develop the bond that many of us have lost. This bond and respect has transferred across to her artwork where she aims to portray an idea of what could have been, by altering the relationship she sees as a physical representation; Her work, breaking down the barriers of disassociation that humans have built against the rest of nature, merges animals with aspects of human figures, creating creatures of deadly beauty and mythical value. These amalgamations bridge the gap between the natural and human world, allowing the viewer to re-evaluate their perception of nature and their relationship with it. In her own words:
‘My hope is to be able to get people to relate and emphathise more with the other animals we share our planet with, animals which so many have worked so hard to separate themselves from. I want my work to serve as a reminder of our own gruesome battle with the natural world, for we are very destructive creatures, and in our ceaseless expansion we have torn apart the natural world [which itself] is not a magical, peaceful realm; animals live often brutal lives, hunting each other to survive, struggling against the elements and in ever decreasing pockets of wilderness…my work is somewhat gruesome, but ultimately so is the world we live in, and so is the wilderness I cherish, beautiful and terrifyingly brutal.’
This idea is clearly visible in Caitlin’s work, which she creates using ball point pens and pencils to make her signature detailed drawings and coloured over the top with watercolour paints. Contrast of emotion is a core aspect of Caitlin’s work. Between the gentle wisps of feather and the delicate flowers lies a dark undertone commenting on the modern world; Pieces can depict savage actions of animals in the hunt and raw wounds, often caused by human instruments, whilst the animals themselves are mutated due to the pollution made by mankind. These images, however, don’t take away from the beauty of the mythical natural world Caitlin creates – this is equally a part of it. She reminds us that nature is powerful and wild, brutal whilst nurturing, ever adaptable – and something to be respected.
Another aspect that makes Caitlin’s work so compelling is her penchant for creating each piece to life-size proportions. As many of her pieces are commissions requested on a smaller scale, numerous works are composed of smaller animals such as birds and mice. An ongoing subject, however, are trees. Winding and twisting within her pictures, the trees themselves represent the very grace and grandeur of nature.
As well as her personal illustrations Caitlin has created commissions such as The Lilac Fairy Book, evolving to have work printed onto tea sets and most recently, her very own t-shirt company Fabled Apparel. To see more of Caitlin’s work, check out her website and her Facebook Page.