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Coates' practice questions how we perceive human nature through imagined non-human situations. An extensive knowledge and understanding of British wildlife has led him to create interpretations of the natural world and its evolving relationship with society. An aspect of Coates' recent work sees him as a 'useful social agent' or problem solver. Through self-designed rituals informed by traditional cultures he consults a nonconscious world of animals and birds to seek relevant information.