Gallery | Landmarks

Landmarks is a body of work created for ‘Calder Wood: Contemporary perspectives on an ancient woodland’, a group show about a small but precious woodland in West Lothian. Seven trees with different characters are celebrated here in charcoal for all their strangeness and beauty.

Choosing Landmarks

A place as varied as Calder Wood presented many creative choices, so for this body of work I decided to focus on what I think of as ‘landmarks’. These are the striking trees which I use to navigate by, which have unique features or seem to embody stories. Some are still living, others I have known through the years and watched as they disappear.

In these drawings I have approached each landmark tree in a way which suits its particular character. Their muscular trunks, delicate twiggery, dynamic forms and lost fragments are represented in different ways, highlighting their individual qualities. What connects them is the landscape they are part of and the medium of charcoal, that most ancient of drawing mediums.

Calder Wood

The first time I crossed the bridge into Calder Wood, where the Linhouse and Murieston Waters meet, I was immediately struck by the richness and variety. It felt like entering a rare island of wildness in an otherwise urban, industrialised landscape – this was clearly a special ancient woodland.

I’ve since learned that its story is complex. It has been a gathering place for drovers passing through and a former shale mining area. Beeches were planted to enhance the views, hazel coppiced in distant times and oaks felled in wartime. These layers of history can still be read in the landscape, vegetation and animal life.

Artist talk

Watch the recorded Artist Talk on the ‘Landmarks’ and the trees in Calder Wood which inspired them.