The local woodlands, trees and fungi are the inspiration for my initial project. Quarry Park is the place I visit most, it was originally a sand quarry and it later was developed into a Park with quite a large open grassy area with exercise equipment for adults and three play areas for children ranging from toddlers to teenagers. Trees were planted approximately 40 years ago to create a now mature wood with lots of pathways for people to exercise their dogs. Hatfield Moors Nature Reserve, owned by Natural England, is a drained peatland area where new growth developed from the rotting ancient trees. There are lots of waterlogged areas, lakes and woodland walks to explore. It is particularly good for bird watchers, with a good variety of birds, and Bird Hides interspersed along the pathways. The site is inhabited by deer, and care must be taken, especially with dogs, as there are also Adders.
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben has introduced me to a world I had no idea existed. Wohlleben explains how trees are like human families, who look after one another, and live together like parents and children. To do so, trees communicate in many ways, they use scent messages on the breeze, and if their leaves are attacked by an insect, they produce toxic substances to rid them of the problem. Trees pass electric waves through their root system to warn nearby trees of impending danger from predators. Tree roots spread over an area double the size of their crown, and with their mutually compatible relationship with Fungi, they play an important role in the underground woodland network. Pikes Pool Lane is another very attractive area to walk, especially in early spring, with an abundance of snowdrops around the pool and surrounding fields. Daffodils and bluebells also have their season in the woods, so there are always plenty of subjects to paint.
I am currently reading Enchanted Life by Merlin Sheldrake which gives a fascinating insight into the world of fungi and how important it is to our existence in the world. This book is an important part of my plan to read in depth. The question is, how can organisms with no apparent brain, solve so many problems. Fungi is important in the production of medicines, it can digest materials such as plastic, explosives, pesticides, and rid us of crude oil slicks. Fungi are the largest organisms ever recorded, it has been proved that they can survive unprotected in space, and also radiation. Fungi enabled the first life on land and all live relies on them to safeguard the planet’s future.
My research will be based on observation, reading, photography, video recordings, en plein air sketches and studies of found woodland materials, trees, wood, fungi and plants. I am attracted the textures of tree bark, reflections in water, glass, and mirrors. I collect photographs to work from, when unable to be in the open air, of the beautiful fungi found on rotting trees, in nooks, and crannies and fairy circles of fungi. Recording the four seasons in my work will be a major part to focus on.
The exhibition review in 1a is about mushrooms, some of the Contemporary artist’s work in 1b include nature and woodlands. My initial proposal for a research project 1c is also studying the natural environment of the woods which includes trees, plants and fungi, so each of the sections are linked.
Drawing, painting and the play of light, shadows, reflections and bright colours are my main interests. I plan to continue experimenting with different compositions and painting mediums to find the most appropriate to use for my project.
Fig. 1 Reflections at Sandal Beat
Fig. 2 Reflections at Quarry Park
Fig. 3 Fungi on rotting wood
Fig. 4 Family of Fungi
Wohlleben, P. (2017) The Hidden Life of Trees. London: William Collins
Sheldrake, M. (2020) Entangled Life London: Penguin