Trees of Marchmont 4

A wounded beech

a beech tree trunk in sunshine

I was on the hunt for ghosts. Not the most obvious of days for a ghost hunt – bright spring sunshine, birds singing their little hearts out and all the greenness getting ready to burst. However, I was excited by the possibilities the day’s light held for photography. I like to take reference photos in both clear sunshine and soft overcast light, as the combination helps me understand the tree’s form, along with drawing as the primary tool. Today was a day for sharp contrasts.

Black and white photograph of cracked beech bark

I’d noticed this beech from the approach road to Marchmont on my first trip but had an injured ankle at the time and frustratingly couldn’t walk to it. With the ankle now healed I made straight for it and wasn’t disappointed. It towered over me, it felt epic to be at its feet.

I spent over an hour with this one tree, examining it very closely. The more carefully I observed, the more marvels I found there, though trying to read its story was difficult. Glacier-like cracked bark at the base indicated earlier stresses and a huge, contorted bundle of wound wood on one side showed the site of an old trauma. There was a marked clockwise twist to the trunk – perhaps its location was a windy one? It was clearly a survivor, standing while many around had fallen during Storm Arwen.

Studio wall at Marchmont Makers Foundation

Looking back at the photos now, I have a feeling it does contain some of the ghosts I’m looking for, which will hopefully reveal themselves through the drawing process to come.

Read the full Marchmont story here.