Mark Welland – Perihelion

2 minute read
Mark Welland – Symmetree-40

My name is Mark Welland, I live rurally in the heart of Kent. I’m an artist and designer who works in different mediums with a passion for fusing digital technology and traditional artistic techniques. 

I’ve been working on the project for about 5 years now, around a single oak tree and the sun. The photos were taken at Perihelion, the time of year the sun is closest to the earth, deep in the Northern Hemisphere’s winter time. 

After nearly 300 years of growth, the tree was toppled by Storm Katie in the spring of 2016. This event hasn’t stopped me working on the project. Sections of the tree have seasoned and are being applied in the artwork. The applications range in form including sculpting, framing and charring (Shou Sugi Ban). Other processes also allow me to create work which is set in resin. These include making charcoal, chipping and making different colour oak pigments .

Mark Welland – Symmetree-20



What is Perihelion?

Each body in our solar system takes an elliptical journey around the sun. This path is offset, meaning the sun is not in the centre. This offset means that each year as a body like the earth orbits its star, it has one point furthest away from the sun (aphelion) and one point closest, known as perihelion.

Perihelion for the earth is generally around the 3rd January. In the northern hemisphere this coincides with our winter, which as you’ve probably guessed, has proven to be my favourite time to capture the architecture of the Symmetree Oak.

‘Symmetree – Approaching Perihelion’ has been created from a single photograph taken with a low sun emerging through the mist. The photograph was composed by placing the sun to one side of the frame. By duplicating and flipping the image in two directions and putting the sun in the centre of the finished piece, it creates a dynamic relationship between the tree and the sun.

The importance of this relationship cannot be understated. It has been one of the major contributors for both allowing life on Earth to flourish and a cornerstone of our own technology. Knowing that there have been annual rhythmic cycles for millions of years could perhaps make us feel complacent about the ability of the earth to carry on its journey forever.

Perihelion may only happen once a year, and will pass without you neccessarily experiencing it. So make the most of any day with sunshine by stepping outside and finding the shade of a tree. Then take a look up through the branches and consider in awe, one of the spectacular natural cycles that have created our beautiful but fragile home.

Find Mark here: