“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity…and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of a man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.”
-From a letter from William Blake (1757-1827) to the Reverend John Trusler (1735-1820) in 1777.
Extraordinary trees, especially ancient oaks, cast a spell over me. Their strange gnarly bark and peculiar anatomy awaken an uncontrollable urge to stop and draw. These majestic survivors are a metaphor for all I hold dear: wisdom, family, connection, shelter and resilience and as a reminder of the fleeting nature of our lives in comparison to their lengthy life spans. Trees and forests worldwide are in a relentless confrontation with a warming planet. I can’t help wondering how much longer the oldest trees will be around, with toxins in the air, climate change upsetting the seasons and violent storms ravaging the country?
It is with awe and respect that I try to alter perceptions with my work, reminding all of us of the threats to, and importance of the natural world. I have read extensively about how trees communicate through their root systems using the “wood wide web”1 and look after their families to maintain forest health. They are themselves ecosystems supporting teaming, invisible life in the branches and under the forest floor. Through my work I try to encourage people to take the time to imagine both worlds, one above the ground and the other below, seated in the enduring landscape.