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© 2017 John Kiely        john@purlieu.photography             Phone +447736849388

Forest Nation

We share a variety of relationships with forests and woodland.  These can range from the fear created by childhood stories through to the threat to the environment caused by deforestation.  The embedded iconography of the forest is one of a place to fear, an environment to avoid.  How many children’s stories feature the ‘forbidden forest’, or the wolf that ambushes the innocent victim?  This emotion would seem to have been generated by man’s apparent inability to control this part of his environment, without destroying it.


The dark recesses of regimented pine trees evolves from the strict order created by mechanisation to the chaotic regime of trailing brambles, clawing branches and hidden traps beneath soft, lush moss.  Man has regularly invaded and tried to control these worlds with varying, temporary effects.  The longevity of the natural inhabitants inevitably reclaims its world from the brief incursion of man. 


Rather than this being a struggle from two opposing sides a new order is created.  Whatever marks we leave, the natural world will reclaim and adapt.  This can be seen in the way that our forests are peppered with derelict and overgrown buildings, our old quarry workings are now populated by birch and bracken.  Rather than our two worlds being at odds with each other, a natural harmony inevitably rises to the fore.


This can be seen in the way that organisations such as The National Trust, or Wild Ennerdale are reversing some of the scars left by previous generations.  The regimented, geometric forests that were created by our need for timber are now being replaced with the mixed, broad leaf woodlands featuring native varieties.  This visionary process has created two camps of opinions, those that support the schemes, and those that are unhappy with the fact that the result will not be fully appreciated for over a hundred years.  We are a temporary incursion into this environment populated by ancient giants.


In this series of images I am exploring the various aspects of mans relationships with forests and woodland.  This may be delving into the mysticism of the perilous domain, or reacting to the removal of the old order and renewing of the natural disorder.  Additionally I portray the relationship that we share with the natural world after we have scarred and altered it.