Retro-Blog part 9: In Search Of The Enchanted Forest

The Retro-Blog: Looking back at the development of a successful creative project in 2006 and the lessons learned along the way.

Flat BW708/02/06

I am printing out my tree photos and trying to imagine what it is I am going to do with them. I even wonder if the photos are enough in themselves and I shouldn’t be trying to make them into a basis for something else.

I realise that the response the trees evoke in me is not necessarily what others see and to convey that must be my quest. I write,

What I have to do is to learn/find/discover a way to make people see what I see – not just a bare tree on a winter’s morning but a pattern like lace or the interconnections in the human lung…The fascinating complexity of pattern…the individuality of each structure and formation…

My first step is to turn the photos from 3D colour images into flattened, monochrome schematics. I am beginning to realise that I must live with not knowing what comes next and that my trajectory must be one of exploring everything I can possibly come up with to do with my trees.

I feel that there is a huge amount resting on my work in this series and, rather than that putting me off, I am feeling ready for the challenge:

I have been at this crossroads before and I have U-turned rather than face the unknown or the failure of my quest. It is as if I have always needed to be able to go a distance further than I have been able to go and so I have stood on the threshold and thought ‘ I have no map for where I need to go now; no guide or mentor; I am blind and without tools in a hostile territory and I AM AFRAID’…and so I have turned back again and again…but this time I know I have made a kind of bargain with myself – I either go the distance or I give up forever. And since the thought of giving up forever fills me with a pain that is greater even than the fear of going on, I have resolved to continue…Flat BW3

The stupid thing is that what lies in that unknown forest is probably very fulfilling and beautiful and so it is strange that I should be so afraid to enter…It is plainly that my conscious, left-brained, censor does not have a route map for this part of the journey that holds me back. ‘How can we?’ it asks, ‘When we are so ill-equipped for such a journey? When we don’t know where it will lead? When we have no idea what to expect there or how to deal with what we find?’

It occurs to me that,

I am quite fearless when it comes to physical travel and yet this is really no different…Perhaps I have always felt the need to keep moving on because the inner journey I have needed to make I have been unable to and so I have substituted physical travel instead…Part of me must believe – or know – that I AM capable of making this journey or I wouldn’t keep trying to undertake it. It is that is the part of me that keeps setting the journey in motion but every time I falter the other part of me – that doesn’t believe – is there ready with, ‘Hey, don’t look at ME for answers, I told you we couldn’t do it.’

So this time I have got to get it into my head that instead of a haunted forest full of nasty creatures ready to grasp me with clawed fingers, what lies ahead is an enchanted forest full of earthly delights, pretty flowers and magical sprites waiting to befriend me and teach me their spells…

I then begin to think about trying to make my workspace more enticing so it feels more like that enchanted forest I’ve been visualising. I think about warmth, music, a flask of hot tea, a posy of wild flowers picked from the hillside around where I was living…And then, out of the blue, I think about cutting out letters saying ‘Magic Forest’, ‘Tree of Life’, ‘Tree of Knowledge’, ‘Medicine Tree’. I never did make those signs (though I did try to make my room more comfortable) but, although I don’t know it then, I have just formulated the concept that the Tree Series will eventually take …



  1. Cool, Wild Cherries. This is inspiring ME to do some inner exploration. Good luck on your quest in the Land of Trees.

  2. Robyn said

    “Either go the distance or give up for ever”. Thats exactly what got me out of my block! If I don’t do something now I might as well give up and the pain of not doing was greater than the doing so I persisted.

    Your tree scapes are beautiful as they are or taking them as far as you wish to. Black and white treescapes have always appealed to me. Lovely big poster sized treescapes!

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