Anyone who has followed my work for any length of time will have noticed that trees feature pretty heavily.
I have always loved trees – the older and gnarlier the better. My phone is full of tree photos that I’ve taken when I’m out and about, some of which end up in paintings. My very first tree piece was this one from about 8 years ago when I was first starting to experiment with combining photography with paint.
It was a freezing but crystal clear day in Glasgow Green and my kids – younger then – were bundled up in coats and scarves playing in the playpark. I turned to the right and saw this single tree with its beautiful stark skeletal lines etched against the white-blue sky and took a quick photo. This started a bit of an obsession, and I now have literally hundreds of tree photos trapped in my phone, in severe need of a bit of arboreal editing which I never seem to get around to…
Since ancient times, trees have been used as symbols of strength, resilience and wisdom. They have appeared in poetry, legends, art and literature for millennia. We humans seem to be fascinated by them, and it’s easy to see why. For a start they are bigger and stronger than us. They put down roots and stand there, unapologetically, whilst quietly nurturing the creatures which live in their branches and providing all of us with oxygen, food and shade.
They exude a calmness which maybe comes from the fact that they can afford to live life unhurriedly – an oak tree after all can live for hundreds of years. They are there for generations before us and still there for generations after, connecting us to the past and the future which is a good feeling. You can see why many GPs now ‘prescribe’ time around trees and nature to help with a range of issues including stress, anxiety and high blood pressure.
I love being around trees at all times of the year. Nothing represents the changing seasons and passing of time quite as clearly as trees – the pale new leaves unfurling in spring, the warm dappled light through the foliage in summer and the fiery reds and golds of autumn. But my favourite time of year for photographing them is in winter – it’s as if their bare scaffolds are exposed before being hidden again during the summer months. I love the patterns and negative shapes that the leafless branches make against an icy sky.
I have made over a hundred tree pieces since that first one eight years ago, and my latest ones are pictured below. They range in size from 23x23cm to 42x42cm and are currently available online from the Fotheringham Gallery here:https://fotheringhamgallery.co.uk/artists/claire-kennedy/
Any more tree huggers out there??