Richard Dawson – The Tree Drawing Machine

2 minute read

I am a visual artist living in t’North of England who’s practice includes sculpture, installation and interactive works mainly focused on Humankinds relationship to the Natural World and the era of the Anthropocene.

I make art to understand the world around me and to engage people with the things I am passionate and/or concerned about, mainly encouraging appreciation and close observation of the Natural World (I am also particularly fond of invertebrates).

What inspired your drawing machine?

The fact that I don’t really use drawing as an outcome in my practice led me to explore etching as a technique and I had previously built some microprocessor controlled drawing machines. My interest in trees as living at a different temporal scale to humans following a video based on tree movement led me to explore how I could engage with trees directly to create work and led to creation of the Tree Drawing Machine. It’s also a great excuse to hang out and make art outside in beautiful locations.

Have you allowed an Oak to draw?

Each piece is named for the tree that created it using it’s Latin name and it’s location, hence Quercus 53.532070 -1.981170 150917 was made by a young Oak tree at Dovestone Reservoir in Greenfield.

What can tree teach us about creativity?

We can learn a lot from trees about many things and throughout human history wood (the bones of trees) has been a fount of creativity from Willaim Blake’s “I can look at the knot in a piece of wood until it frightens me” through to David Nash’s brilliant sculptures that are so sympathetic to each tree he uses. I am interested in the movement and activities of living trees as inspiration.

What’s you favourite tree?

I like Oak for it’s majesty and the fact it can support more different species of life than any other tree but also love the muscular form and movement of the many huge Beech trees in the woods at Dovestone reservoir.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that everyone should go outside and observe a tree from as many different perspectives as possible; close up detail, overall form, movement and sound, and also watch how the tree changes through the seasons. With luck your chosen tree will out live you.

Also, I saw Jacqui Symons work on your website, do you know her?

Jacqui Symons is my partner and fellow tree botherer, we occasionally collaborate and at some point the Tree Drawing Machine will be used by trees from which she is leaf printing – hopefully for a joint exhibition. Jacqui has contributed a post in the edition, here: Oak Leaf Mono prints.

Find Richard here: