These photos I took on an expedition down onto the Somerset levels searching for Willow Broom to make some natural inks from. The link to Roger Deakon’s book Wildwood is the language he uses talking about the trees that struck me one day. He described ‘meeting’ the tree which made me sit up – because after this visit to the levels I wrote in my sketchbook ‘met old grandmother willow’. It made me think how people think differently about trees and how they can be quite powerful in the way they can connect people with nature. The book elaborates on all manner of thing relating to trees and wood in a beautiful, poetic way. There is so much in the book that strikes a cord with me, along with the people and places he visits. There are a number of artists he visits, including Nash, Goldsworthy and Randall-Page, but new to me is JohnWolseley, an artist born in Somerset, but now living and working in Australia. He works in the landscape, but what first caught my attention was the way he ‘collaborates’ with it to make work- he describes being in the outback after a forest fire, what remains of the trees have become like stumps of charcoal, he will take large sheets of paper, hold it up and allow the wind to carry it though this charred wood so that the forces of nature act in bringing the paper into contact with parts of the landscape creating marks reflective of this. Sometimes he will allow it to blow around for weeks before retrieving it. These pieces full of gestural marks from the charred wood he may then over work with beautifully observed watercolours based on drawings of the flora and fauna he will have made in that same landscape. There is a sense that the work encapsulates many aspects of the landscape, some he is able to control and others he isn’t. In this video of him speaking about his work you realise his thoughts also extend further into science, literature and poetry. It was interesting to see also images of work in progress where he has used organic material placed on the paper surrounded in what looks like water colour which I imagine will be allowed to dry and leave an imprint. I felt quite inspired looking at his work.
Deakon, Roger (2007) Wildwood- A journey through trees. Penguin Books Ltd, London.