Arboretum Virtualis | Introduction
Some of my happiest times have been hiking the peripheral forests of Prince George, British Columbia in my adolescence. One of the most admired natural aspects of BC are its snow-peaked mountains but you can’t see those when you live in the center of that Canadian province. For me, the next most spectacular feature of BC is its trees, and the city of Prince George has long staked claim to the title “Spruce Capital of the World”.
I’m not just hooked on spruce; however, or even just BC’s trees. Without being an environmentalist, naturalist, arborist or anything related I’ve been fascinated with trees in general for all of my existence.
Long before I had ever heard of Clyde Butcher, I had a thought to produce a collection of tree landscapes. I wanted to make images of trees that stood out in my mind as having remarkable character, almost as though each were sentient. Like any artist, although I knew that I would enjoy the endeavour, I wasn’t sure that anyone else would actually care about my pictures of trees. I wasn’t convinced that I had a hope of using such images to remind people of the importance of trees in our lives without being preachy, and goodness gracious, who hasn’t already taken on a tree photography project? Seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to Butcher’s tree dominated landscapes of the Florida Everglades, however, I was motivated to press on.
That’s when I discovered my next paralyzing fear. For years I was heavily concerned that I would be seen as a Butcher copycat, and I really didn’t think that I could source a landscape that was more than or even equally as interesting as Florida’s to shoot, with all of its remarkable buttress root trees. I am a science fiction illustrator, however, and it was my limited amateur studies in botany and horticulture for my effort to dream up astrobiological flora for a fictitious world that opened my eyes to the possibilities of seeing the trees of Earth differently to how I love seeing them in Clyde Butcher’s pictures. My vision of tree portraits was becoming more refined, and I finally began my artistic arboreal photography experiments in January of 2008.
I very much enjoy photographing the great outdoors but I have a particular interest in focusing on nature’s profound importance on urban living. So, most of these tree landscapes and portraits deliberately have subtle indications of the presence of people. I aim to make a classy and unique series that can impact others with a new found and lasting respect for our planet.
Pieces in this series so far include: