It’s only a tree.
While out walking the other day a nearby tree that I had frequently past for years suddenly caught my eye. Standing as it has done for hundreds of years in its own private little plot, silent yet majestic in the middle of a vast open field. Its giant trunk anchored firmly to the ground by a maze of entangled roots, living tentacles mirroring its immense bulk, burrowed deep into the ground constantly clawing at the soil seeking out its nourishment, unseen and yet crucial to its survival.
Its huge branch’s like giant limbs gracefully bowing to the floor playing host to an entanglement of other smaller twigs covered with a plethora of individual delicately coloured autumnal leaves in shades of green, brown, yellow, orange and red, with the sun sitting low in the sky highlighting and illuminating every detail of its form as it stands statuesque against the landscape.
As I gazed upon it, I wondered, why have I never noticed it before? I have passed this way many times. In fact, more than I can remember and yet never before had it demanded my attention. Yet, in that moment, there I was, stopped dead in my tracks, mesmerised, inspired and feeling a huge need to capture the image and commit it to something more lasting so that I could possess it and keep it forever.
However almost immediately afterwards, and completely out of nowhere I thought WHY? Why do I need to possess it, what is it that makes me want to own the moment. Can I not just enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is today? Tomorrow the tree will still be there and there will be a different picture for me to see, and different emotions for me to feel as with the passage of time, all things change.
As I continued on I began to think about art. Is art really about the moment, an impulse, a sudden flash of inspiration, a eureka moment if you like. The moment when the sun hits the leaves and the tree explodes into colour, demanding your immediate attention and triggering a multitude of thoughts and emotions in the subconscious that initiates the desire to want to capture and possess it so that it will never be forgotten.
Or is art more about preconceived ideas, planned conscious decisions executed in meticulous detail by the artist. The privilege that allows the artist to carefully choose and manipulate their subjects and then through exacting technique and use of colour and perspective, present them in a way that suggests to us what they really are and how we should see them. The artist’s way to stop us in our tracks and demand our immediate attention, forcing us to question our own perspective of the piece.
This is a tree. It’s only a tree??