Zweig Memorial Travel Scholarship
As part of my degree in Marine and Natural History Photography, my main focus of study is within flora, and specific flora to an environment. My past studies have been focused on the sub tropical plant species in Cornwall and the classical Cornish ravine gardens that adorn our south coastline. I am also interested in the plant life that takes hold on the fringes of the north coast of Cornwall, where it is hard to survive as any plant of shrub. This study has fascinated me for years, and will in no doubt carry on to catch my attention.
But for now my focus is on trees, not just any trees, the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). My addiction with this tree started a few years ago on a visit to a local arboretum where this tree just rises out of the ground, and takes on a whole being, it is so big, so grand that it has a real sense of being, its presence is so intense it would be near on impossible to miss it! A true celebration of stature and majesty. So after visiting this tree on many occasions throughout the year, in daylight, nightlight, rain, and sun its presence and life story just took a hold of me and still has not let me go!
Last year, a copy of National Geographic made its way into my post box, on the front cover, an image of Steve Sillet climbing an old growth redwood in California. As you go onto to explore the issue and Mike Fays redwood transect you will come to a pull out image of a coast redwood, a (much) extended image of the front cover! This image has inspired me, not because I think I could even be technically capable of taking an image like this yet, but through the ideas oh how long one of these trees has been in existence and how long it took to create an image like this. Its such a strong living image, and image with so much power to be able to tell a story of this tree, not in terms of human history but ecological history. I love the way it explores the canopy, the ‘forests in the sky’ and its study of how the tree is such a life support system for so many other beings, both flora and fauna.
In Febuary of this year (2010) I decided to apply for the Zweig memorial scholarship through the university. I proposed to visit these trees following a journey much like Mike Fays (however, sadly not enough time to do it on foot!), to explore the ecological journey of these trees from southern most coast redwood in the central coast of California, to the northern most of trees in the parks on the borders of California and Oregon. And to study the cultural and social status that these trees have, why people are drawn to them, what makes them stay and what makes them create from the landscape surrounding them.
I will be visiting the Humboldt State University Library where much of the original images are kept of the first logging and lumber companies in the Humboldt county. From there I will be meeting a scultpor who creates pieces from redwood that has fallen, or is made from deadwood, and a few other meetings in various places.
I will of course, be recording my journey photographically and through film and sound recordings, and journals I keep on my travels. This will form the main parts to my exhibition as I wanted to create a journey piece, about socio cultural influence landscape has on man. However, this could all change…who knows!!
So for now, I leave on Monday morning to LA where the adventure will begin! So exciting!
I have included a small reading list of some of the best books that I have read regarding these amazing trees.
Wild Trees – Richard Preston
Redwood Classic – Ralph W Andrews