forest series

Forest has been a preoccupation in my work for a long time. I am fascinated by the layers of significance placed on forest through our cultural history, from places inhabited by wolves and shadowy beings in fairy tales, to its cultural significance in German myths and literature. I am drawn to the visual complexity of forest, as well its various forms, from wild and ancient (which is hard to find in Europe today) to the cultivated monocultures so common around the world. These farmed forests have something uncanny about them. Often conifers, there is a sombre darkness among the trunks, all the same width, and without leaves or indeed any undergrowth. The Dickicht series (thickets) were painted mostly during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. They reference the impenetrability of undergrowth, the complexity of plant growth and mirror a particular psychological sensibility, a feeling that the way forward is denied, difficult, arduous. In 2021 and 2022 I also started work that began as reaction to the disastrous bushfires in Australia and elsewhere in the summer 2019/2020. The images of smoky red skies and burnt forests were mesmerizing and deeply disturbing. I wanted to paint these scenes, but at the same time add an element of hope. The plants that swim in the foreground are moss (one of the first plants to return after a fire), small otherwise unobtrusive species , or plants typically found in a forest. As my focus and experience is now with European forests, these are the places I draw on.