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Q&A with Niels Burger

Niels Burger is a founding member of Musa Collective. For the exhibition, Take A Line For A Walk, Niels invited artist Alison Judd; both artists draw from nature, using layers and line to convey the complexity and impermanence of our natural world. We delve deeper into Niels' practice here with four questions that we've posed to each artist in the exhibition.


1) How do you begin a drawing?

I like to make series of drawings to explore variations of a theme. Often I will start by doing some studies in the woods. Once I have figured out issues like paper size and ink color I will walk around the woods and look for a location that has interesting tree structures. When I find a composition I like I will sit down and start drawing it with ink and no preliminary sketches. I think of my drawings as improvisations. I’m interested in seeing how I will respond to the woods through direct observation and simple drawing tools.

"Mount Misery 1"

2) Tell us about the drawings in the show?

These drawings were made at Mount Misery, in Lincoln Mass. I normally make my drawings at Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont

but Habitat was closed to the public as part of the general lockdown. I had recently gone for a walk at Mount Misery with my family to get out of our house and stretch our legs. As often happens when I walk in the woods, I was struck by its beauty and how peaceful it felt while walking through the trees. I decided to come back and draw there. Also, I love the name.

"Mount Misery 2"

In the past I have made monochromatic drawing series using blue ink or red ink. Primarily colors feel primal and loaded with metaphor. I felt a need to try the last primary color, yellow, to reflect the great change affecting our world but yellow is so light it hardly registers on white paper. I decided to try combining yellow with black ink. I feel that these two colors together have a strong visual impact and evoke a sense of emergency like highway signs or police tape at crime scenes.

"Mount Misery 3" from Take A Line For A Walk

3) How has your practice been affected in the last few months?

I have become obsessed with concern for the climate and ecological emergency. Recently, as part of the climate group Extinction Rebellion, I have focused more time making protest art than my own art. It feels hard for me to focus on my personal vision when the world is in such trouble. In many ways my protest art is influencing my personal art.

4)Where does drawing take you?

Drawing takes me into the woods.

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