Archaeology

Castle’s early work derived from deep studies of ancient archaeological sites and artifacts in his native Britain, and in Europe. These led to an awareness of the universal yet locally inspired natural laws by which people once organized their ways of living in harmony with their locale. This understanding is important in redefining our own culture’s interaction with the environment. Currently he is deeply engaged with the 6,000 year-old Cucuteni culture in Romania, exploring the consciousness embedded in artifacts that emerge from archaeological investigation of sites. His paintings, etchings and drawings are explorations of the meaning of the material and a perform the role of a psychological and spiritual archaeology, expressed through multi-layered imagery, marks and patterns.

 

Soil drawing

A branch of Castle‘s recent work explores the subtle energies of nature through mapping and drawing with soil samples gathered at particular places. These works reflect the inner nature of place in the use of maps, energetic patterns experienced on the spot, together with soil samples, often of varied color, gathered from the actual locale.


Musical Cartography

Musical composition is a further extension of this expression of place. Castle’s visual explorations of landscapes and other natural forms and patterns in nature become musical scores.  Musical lines are developed from precise measurement of the visible forms.

His musical works have been performed as part of the collaborative productions of Anima Mundi Dance Company. Over 15 years the company performed at many Bay Area theaters and many other venues ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and The Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, to La MaMa Theatre, New York, and the Copenhagen European Cultural Capital Festival.

 

Icons

During his travels in Eastern Europe researching local traditions, Castle encountered the well-known image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland. His subsequent studies in London with Guillem Ramos Poqui gave him insights and expertise in the practice of egg tempera painting which, it turns out, is a medium, although devised within a strict canonical setting of Orthodox Christianity, that draws on a powerful alchemical and mystical world-view. The practice of egg tempera painting based in this iconographic tradition has become an important part of the background conceptual and technical base of his work generally. He has painted a number of icons, commissioned for individuals and for churches. He also teaches courses in traditional icon painting.


Community Arts Projects

Castle’s public art work is directly related to and springs from the discoveries he makes in his own working process described above. Alongside this work as an individual artist he works with community groups and schools to create art that enables individuals to express their stories concerning their own community and environment. Cultural fragmentation is addressed through this holistic approach.

In 2008 and 2009 he created “The World Pattern,” a series of ceramic tiles with patterns from cultures around the world for the Anna Yates Elementary School in Emeryville, California, and a mural based on John Muir and his local watershed in Martinez, a collaboration with students of the Environmental Studies Academy in Martinez, California. His recent project focusing on water is “Mapping the Soul of the City” in which city residents from diverse communities employ mapping as a means of telling their personal stories about their neighborhoods and their relationship to nature.

This project has resulted in several large scale collaborative works including a 100-foot long mural based on the cultural and natural history of Wildcat Creek at Richmond High School, a collaborative wall-hanging map entitled “Water in Richmond” created with artists at the National Institute of Art and Disabilities, together with numerous smaller projects. In 2013 Castle with the New Leaf Academy in Martinez completed a second major mural based on the life and work of John Muir.

 

Teaching

His teaching experience is broad ranging from college level painting and printmaking to children’s classes.  As an artist in the schools for Kala Art Institute he currently teaches environmental art courses at Willard, Longfellow and Martin Luther King Middle Schools in Berkeley. Previously he taught at Verde, Mira Vista and Stege Elementary schools in Richmond and Markham Elementary School, Oakland. He works with kindergarten through 12th-grade students, but also has many years experience teaching college level art students. He also offers regular classes in his studio. He often gives lectures and courses on his work with archaeology and the sense of the sacred in the land.

 

Support

As well as commissioned work and selling his art to individual patrons and public collections, Castle’s work is supported by grants and residencies. He has received individual artists‘ grants from The British Council, The Arts Council of Great Britain, The Marin Arts Council and several private Foundations, and has attended artists‘ residencies at the Djerassi Foundation, Esalen Institute and Druid Heights Artists‘ Residency, and most recently at Valeni artists residency in Romania. Recent commissions include three traditional Byzantine icons for churches in Romania.

 

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Christopher Castle

Christopher Castle is a multimedia environmental artist. His visual and musical works focus on traditional earth-based cosmologies bringing a new awareness to ways of relating human culture to nature and to the specifics of place and local distinctiveness. His extensive travels and research into ancient and indigenous cultures have informed the conceptual basis of his work.  He believes there is much to be learned from the past yet his art has a strong contemporary significance.