'Remains', Isabel Young

Painting in green tones of an indistint animal and a fish

Oil on canvas, 117 x 162.5 cm

When wilderness only exists in the deepest recesses of the ocean and outer space, my work focuses on our increasingly estranged relationship with nature, posing the question: what is contemporary landscape? In our post-industrial world we have inherited a highly contrived landscape littered with man-made elements. It appears to tell us more about civilisation than nature, and although it may be unfair to describe it as pure artifice, neither can it be termed raw nature.

Above all, my work explores the age-old conflict between nature and civilisation. It speaks of the human desire to impose order on earth while reminding us that we are not exempt from the laws of nature. We are reminded, also, of the temporary quality of the man-made, and the ability of nature to reclaim its territory wherever, and whenever, it desires.

Remains examines the lethal power of nature by depicting the world transformed by a catastrophic flood. The painting draws us into an alien underwater world, with remnants of man-made structures: a world inhabited solely by nature.

We forget that our survival depends on nature, believing instead that nature exists to serve humanity. My paintings present the terrifying prospect that nature is stronger than we are. We are faced with the grim assurance of nature’s supreme indifference to mankind.


Isabel Young was born in Cheltenham in 1976. She studied at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education 1995-96, University of Wales Institute Cardiff 1996-99 and the Royal College of Art 2000-2. Her exhibitions include Clean Slate Centre for Visual Arts and UWIC Cardiff 1999, The Discerning Eye Mall Galleries London 2002, Rising Tides (one-person) and Vaguely Romantic both at Rosy Wilde Gallery London 2003, and Snow Transition Gallery London 2003.