I have spent many hours with a lone silver birch tree. I was drawn to its slender frame, its fragility yet tenacity, and the fact that without fail each spring its bright and delicate leaves unfurl. The image below shows the shape and form of the tree illuminated by a torch after dark.
In the early days of my PhD, I returned to the tree, and it was on one occasion in a howling gale that I became aware of the Being of another. While I was struggling to maintain contact with terra firma, while keeping a tight hold on my camera and tripod, I realised this was what Being a tree meant. Most days, this tree was subjected to extreme weather, in the shadow of the Cuillin. Its life was spent clinging to a rocky outcrop, standing tall and sheltering grateful photographers.
After this realisation, I began work on a period of practice “Among Trees”. This work, turned out to be significant, providing many insights about my practice which led me to investigate the hidden life of trees, their means of communication and the communities they nurture. And also, to consider the underground networks of mycelium, and how they represent the entanglement of Being that I hoped to represent through my photography. This work also led to me learning new skills – intentional camera movement, combing multiple exposures in the camera – and engaging in deep practice such that I could work intuitively with my camera in different ways. But it also led me to think about the forest in new ways too. I began to realise that I did not want to be an observer looking in or out from the forest but wanted to capture the interiority of the forest and the deep entanglement of species. The images below show the development of my work over a six-month period before the trees were felled.
More recently, I returned to the lone tree and worked with multiple exposures and slow shutter speeds.
Trees have played a significant part in my PhD journey and have allowed me to develop my skills, as well as providing me with a number of insights along the way. . .