Sunday, 05 December 2021

Photographer captures sheer majesty of trees

Photographer captures sheer majesty of trees

A PHOTOGRAPHER is staging an exhibition about trees.

Rachel Wallace has loved trees ever since she used to climb them as a child and wants to promote their beauty as well as their benefits.

Hymn to Woods & Forests is being held at No 3 Turville Studios and features about 20 photographs taken in black and white.

Rachel, who lives in Frieth, took the images over a 14-year period at a variety of locations, from the woods and common land close to home to the tropics of Grenada, Puerto Rico and Thailand.

She said: “I am a great lover of trees and the environment and this exhibition, my first since lockdown, represents and expresses my awe and love of them. These are my favourite images taken for their grace, delicacy, individuality and variety and cover all seasons.

“The way I have printed them gives them an etching-like quality and they are all printed in monochrome, which I believe creates a more immersive experience. When you come to the studio it will be like walking in among trees.

“The majority of the pictures are taken around Frieth, where I live, and other local commons and woodland. I have lived in this area for 30 years so I have got to know individual trees and the way they look across the seasons.

“When I go on holiday or go and see a friend I always to go out for a walk and find some trees to take pictures of.”

Visitors to the gallery will see a “forest wall” and birdsong and forest sounds are played to recreate a peaceful setting within which to view the photographs.

On an opposite side of the gallery there is a green painted wall on which items are displayed that have been gathered from walks.

Rachel said she uses monochrome images because she feels it is better to appreciate the trees on an emotional as well as a visual level. She said: “In monochrome you get to see the textures and layers such as the bark and the patterns and shapes of leaves and the shafts of light that come through them and the feeling that brings.

“From the delicate tracery of fine leaves providing their own decorative theme, to snow-covered trunks, in far harsher blocks of monochrome majesty, the images capture one’s attention.

“There is a belief that if we attend closely and carefully toward something, then we are unlikely to act selfishly towards it. Our forests and trees need our selfless care, so nature has indeed been done a favour here.

“Each tree is individual, no two trees are the same, so I can’t really say what my ideal tree is. It is a bit like saying who is my favourite person, they are all so different — they are so majestic or beautiful, even the most stunted of trees have energy.

“I do want the exhibition to promote trees and the understanding of trees and hopefully get more people to walk and see them and understand things like an oak tree creates enough oxygen for a person to live for a year. That’s what I want people to take away from it as well as the appreciation and the feeling that I get from them.”

Rachel, who uses a variety of cameras and techniques, shares Turville Studios with other artists with each having their own space. She has been a professional photographer for 25 years and won a silver medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2019.

She is also a commercial photographer, specialising in lifestyle and equine commissions.

Hymn to Woods & Forests runs from Tuesday to Thursday, from next week to early September, from noon to 5pm.

• Artist Helena Levett, who specialises in painting horses in strong, colourful acrylic inks and paints, is exhibiting at the Old Fire Station Gallery in Henley until Tuesday (August 3).

She lives in Burghfield, near Reading, but previously spent nine years working as an art therapist at Headway Thames Valley in Greys Road.

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