Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky …

The United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness and strenghthen the suistainable management of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.  Some key facts are: 

 Forests cover 31 percent of total global land area.   
 Forests store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon.  
 Over 1.6 billion people’s livelihoods depend on forests. 
 Trade in forest products was estimated at $327 billion in 2004. 
 Forests are home to 80 percent of terrestrial biodiversity. 
 30 percent of forests are used for production of wood and non-wood products. 
 Forests are home to 300 million people around the world. 
 Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. 

For me, trees have long been a visual and emotional inspiration for my photography, this series of images explores the relationship between the natural and constructed world.

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
 Kahlil Gibran

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I AM in Taree, art and storytelling workshop.

I am  looking forward to working with students from the Taree Public School on the I AM arts and storytelling project next week. This project explores visual literacy, oracy, active listening, cultural awareness,  risk-taking, self esteem building, co-operative behaviour, reflective practice, experimentation, persistence, imaginative thought,  improvisation, spontaneity and self expression!  

I don’t know if you have ever observed this strange thing, the self.

I think that ultimately all art is about the self. As I am working through my backlog of photographs, I realise that all images are about me.  Exploring my archive of photos allows me to find different aspects of myself.  The photo of that old man is me, the image of that landscape is me, the framing of this shot is me …..

I am currently also reading ‘Soul Mountain’ by Gao Xingjian and have found my thoughts on the self reflected in his writing:

 

‘ I don’t know if you have ever observed this strange thing, the self.  Often the more you look the more it isn’t it.  It’s just like when one is lying on the grass and staring at a cloud – at first it’s just like a camel, then like a women, and when you look again it becomes an old man with a long beard, but this doesn’t last because clouds are transformed every instant. Gao p.150

Looking at my images, as a reflection of my self,  they are clouds which are ever changing and it seems pointless trying to grasp them. 

Gao Xingjian, 2000, Soul Mountain, Harper Collins, Sydney, Australia

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All things change, and we change with them.

This project explores the changing space of the urban environment in Chinese cities. The photographs investigate the role of memory, culture and personal space as part of a person’s identity.  China’s current urban expansion offers an ideal opportunity to document the destruction and rebuilding of old and new memories.   I started this series of images in Beijing prior to the 2008 Olympics and continued in Shanghai, preceding the World Expo.   

In both cities large urban living spaces were eradicated and replaced by modern housing blocks, roads or commercial spaces.  In the process, thousands of people were relocated from their traditional dwellings into mostly high-rise buildings.  This action not only changes the living space for the mostly poor inhabitants, but it also irreversibly changes the culture of this urban landscape.  In the build-up to the Shanghai World Expo it is estimated that 20,000 people have been relocated to make room for new development. 

In other parts of China the situation is no different, where redevelopment plans run into billions of dollars.  According to the International Herald Tribune (29 April 2010)  A single city, Chongquin, plans to invest 1 trillion renminbi or 146.4 billion USD in 323 redevelopment projects in the next few years.

My photos explore what has been left behind. This includes images of old buildings that still bear witness to their former life, people living in a state of flux and objects that contain cultural and personal memories.

‘All things change, and we change with them.’ Chinese proverb

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I dwell in the green mountain

Yesterday was a wonderful clear, but cold spring day in Switzerland.  I took the opportunity and went on a five hour hike.  Armed with my new camera, I  sought to capture the emotion of the day. 

You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men. 
Li Bai (701 – 762)

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