My name is Rachel Lane, I am an artist who lives near Sherwood Forest in the UK, I have lived my whole life amongst these trees and we have a very special relationship.
This very intimate bond I share with the trees began as a very small child when the woods by my grandparents home were my playground. They were my climbing frames, swings, wildlife classroom, guardians and teachers, I knew them all, and I knew them by name, as beings in their own right. They were as distinct and individual as anyone else I’ve met, having very distinct personalities and energies, preferences and dislikes. Some liked to be climbed, some liked to look after and offer shelter to animals and birds, others disliked being disturbed or used as housing. Each made itself, it’s likes and dislikes clearly known and I loved and respected them all, and they always responded in kind. As I grew older, they became my closest confidants, they listened to all my teenage woes with love and patience, I began to develop and they evolved with me, I learned to listen but not with my ears, I learned to see but not with my eyes and I learned to feel, not with my hands but with my whole being, and they were my teachers and guides.
I knew I wanted to be an artist from about the age of 4 or 5, it was my first love and obsession and it was nature that I drew, my tree friends and all that lived with, in and amongst them. For a very long time I was particularly fascinated and challenged to reproduce as accurate a representation of what I saw as I could, that was my goal and focus, and for a long time that sufficed and satisfied me and my need to keep and develop my connection with the world I lived in. Gradually however this kind of perfection seeking began to feel like it was lacking or missing something, something fundamental, it was limiting my progression but I couldn’t work out why or where it was I was actually trying to get to.
My breakthrough came many years later when out in Sherwood doing some plein air sketching, I realised that the reason I was drawing was no longer for the technical challenge, skill acquisition or perfection of realism, but was actually because of ‘the place’ I went to when creating. It was such a subtle shift in consciousness I hadn’t even fully realised what I was doing until this moment, but once realised, it changed everything. My work, although it is still figurative and strongly grounded in the physical, is actually about something far more ephemeral and intuitive. When drawing the trees, I found that I was using their physical silhouette as a kind of grounding form, but once this was set, my mind moved to the presence of the tree, how they felt, how they made me feel. Some had very strong identities and characters, some drew identity from their relationship with their environment or close neighbour, and it was these more subtle energies I was picking up on and depicting in my work. This totally fascinates me and has opened up a whole new depth and level for me to explore on and the trees helped me all the way.
For the past 4 years I have been working on developing and strengthening this connection and process as well as my skills to give them a better voice and presence. The bond I have with trees has been central to not only my art but my spiritual understanding as well, and the melding of these 2 aspects have enriched and fulfilled my life in more ways than I could have imagined, they feed each other endlessly. I continue to develop this work as well as take it in different areas such as the tree wisdom and Ogham project I have planned for release next spring, using my process and connection with the actual trees as it’s basis to experience it in a very visceral as well as narrative way.
Trees are very special, unique entities, they hold a crucial link in life both as a physical and spiritual form. My relationship with them is intimate and strong but not unique, many people can identify similar feelings and experiences and I encourage everyone to just go and be truly present with a tree, you know which one is calling to you, and just be fully present, open up and feel, listen, they all have so much to share and teach us as individuals and as a race. I choose to celebrate and share my relationship with our arboreal friends in the hopes that others will feel them, remember that special bond and return to an attitude of love and respect.
Find Rachel here: www.rachellaneart.com