The Dryad series: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

This post’s about the Dryad series.  They are the seven images that make up almost a quarter of my exhibition – Symmetry – which is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017.  I wanted to explore what happened when I placed a person into my images – rather than finding a Green Man or a fantastical pattern in them. I did that by projecting some images I’d prepared on to Natalie – she’s the dryad in the shoot – as she stood in front of a screen.  When her back’s turned she becomes enigmatic with a big shadow playing across the forest.

Stained Glass Dryad Original

I must say that technically this was really tricky to do.  Fortunately the mirrored organic shapes I’d chosen could be draped down her spine and that was really evocative.  The next picture’s from the exhibition. It shows the filigree of a tree-like skeleton in/on her dryad body.

Dryad

Some time later I decided to mirror the dryad images and construct a triptych.  The two pictures here have the mirrored dryads on either side of the original.

Stained Glass Dryad

Green Dryad

All of the pictures so far have shown a dryad within a scene but I also projected one of my favourite tree images on to her so she became the screen.  In Scarab Dryad I love the way the tree branches burst out of her neck whilst a runic scarab perches on her shoulders.

Scarab Dryad

When I made the runic tree image smaller – so that it just fitted in her back – it makes the curved shape of an angel’s wing.  You can see there’s a wing on the back of each of the mirrored dryads in the Angel Dryad triptych.  The wings reappear as overlays in the original runic tree in the centre.  The contrast of the burning wings on the slender body reminds me strongly of William Blake’s etchings.

Angel Dryad

Lastly I did something quite fantastical.  I made Dryad Fantasy by overlaying the runic tree with the Angel Dryads in a multiplicity of mirrored images.  So it’s a re-composition of the originals: re-imagined shapes with new patterns and forms.

Dryad Fantasy

I wrote about some of these pictures last year when they were still a work in progress. If you are interested there are more pictures and descriptions in these posts.: Triptychs 1: Stained GlassTriptychs 2: The Figure in the ForegroundTriptychs 3: Angel Wings.

The Three Green Men: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

My solo exhibition – Symmetry – is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017. I’ve decided to write a series of posts about the images that are in it so that you can see what it is about.  When you walk into the exhibition you’ll immediately pass by the three green men.  One of them is so striking that I chose it for the poster and advertising.  Here he is.

Äsperöd Green Man Final

It’s an image of a Scots Pine tree (tal in Swedish) deep in the forest near our apartment in Äsperöd, Sweden.  I’ve mirrored it into two and also overlaid the image on itself.  This is the original.

Äsperöd Green Man Original

I took the picture one evening last September (early autumn in Sweden) when the light was soft and diffuse.  That meant I got an image with lots of detail and I could increase the contrast and saturation in post production to give the final picture more impact.

The Green Man is thought to be a pagan symbol of rebirth – that’s according to Wikipedia anyway – and found in architectural motifs right across Europe.  It’s usually a face made of branches, leaves, fruit and vines.  That’s certainly the case with the second green man too.

Göta Green Man Final

This image’s of an oak (ek) tree showing the first autumn colours and I’ve used the identical processes of mirroring and overlay on it.  The foliage is far more dense and so the image is much more richly textured.

Göta Green Man Original

I took the original at lunchtime whilst walking in the nature reserve above the Göta River in Trollhättan.  Once again I made sure that the light was soft and diffuse.  The third green man is a little different.  He’s an artefact made of driftwood in Lars Vilk’s amazing construction called Nimis  located in Skåne.

Nimis Green Man Final

I like the way he just stands there with his arms on his hips.  There’s something oriental, almost samurai-like, about his presence as though he’s covered in armour. Here’s the original picture.  It’s taken with a fish-eye lens from the walkway that tunnels between the towers.

Nimis Green Man Original

It was an overcast, drizzly October day so I managed to get all three images to complement each other nicely in terms of light conditions.

Arena Exhibition at the Festival Gallery: Stendörren Dreamscape

The National Arts Festival sets up the Arena Exhibition as an opportunity to showcase your artwork.  My problem was which piece to decide on.  I settled on this dreamy looking landscape taken late last September at Stendörren Nature Reserve in Sweden.  It’s looking west into the sun (which all camera makers tell you never to do) reflecting over the sea.

Stendörren Dreamscape

I like the tranquility, the curling clouds and the range of blues which make you wonder is it night or day?

The Arena Exhibition opens on Monday 20th June and will end on the last day of Festival, Sunday 10th July 2016.  It’s held at the Festival Gallery on Somerset Street, Grahamstown.

Portals Exhibition: fjord landscapes

I stayed in a delightful, and tiny, cottage at Lindesnäs on a steep hillside above Byfjorden for a number of autumns.  It was a long way from my work in Uddevalla, Sweden, but the tranquility and beautiful landscapes made it a great place for photography.

Cottage at Lindesnäs

Cottage at Lindesnäs

September mornings often brought a thick mist before sunrise and as the sun burnt through there were ethereal views of the trees and shoreline.  When it was very still the reflections and the mist made the trees and islands below the cottage appear to be floating.

Byfjorden in the mist

Byfjorden in the mist

In this picture from the Portals exhibition you are almost pulled along into the waterway between the headlands.  It is one of the earliest of the images I’m showing at this years’s National Arts Festival.

Byfjorden mirror

Byfjorden mirror

 

 

New directions

This past six weeks I’ve been exploring new ideas and finding some new directions in my nature photography.  Since finishing Symmetry in Nature in January I have been full of the urge to create but I was only able to follow this once I got to Sweden and Finland in April and May.  The places I have stayed have been exceptionally beautiful and because I’ve been released from the usual routines then I have let myself go.

You can see from these three pictures that I’ve spent plenty of times in the forests with the trees searching for, and finding, their hidden imagery.

Six of the best: Sweden September 2013

A new compact camera was waiting for me at Willy’s post office in Uddevalla last month. It’s the Pentax WG-3 GPS that I took around with me.  Here are six of my better efforts with the new technology:

  • A sunset from the cliffs above Äsperöd where our apartment is;
  • Black and white leaves and a petal dripping in mist from the Botanic Gardens in Göteborg;
  • The harbour at Strömstad;
  • A snail at Trädgårdsföreningen in Göteborg;
  • A toadstool rising through the earth on the footpath from Dalgången to Tureborg.

One real bonus is that I don’t have to cart around my big heavy Pentax K-5 and so I managed (just) a business trip for four weeks carrying only hand luggage.