This piece was inspired by a request from a tree brother of Dartmoor who has been planting trees across the moors for more than a quarter of a century. He is someone Tolkein describes as a Tree Shepherd. Nick this one is for you.
I was very aware of the level sensitivity this piece would need and it took 6months to bring into this world. It started bubbling in my mind at Ostara (April 2020) with the promise of new life and was completed at Samhain (October/November 2020) when we honour our dead. The circle of life and death a reflection of nature.
So with the wild spirits calling me I walked the moor and with each wander more of my inner sight cleared and the picture built layer after layer. A Birch tree near Spitchwich a Rowan from Scorhill, for new life and new beginnings. A calm pool in the river Dart for peace and connection. To the recently felled Ash in Hembury wood, in honour of a dying species. Even as a few individuals will live on to start a new disease resistant species for the future, we still mourn the loss of so many from our landscape.
I wanted this piece to represent this beautiful dance of life, death and rebirth of nature, forever inspiring awe and humility. In the distance in the middle of the river is great grandfather Oak connecting above and below and all around, a grand life giver. Crow and owl connect us to those across the veil and remind us to honour our loved and lost.
In the middle of the pool is his majesty, the heart of our forests, moorlands and all wild places, stag in all his glory, crowned with the leaves of the royal Oak. In the foreground are two branches from a grove of oak trees growing near Hound Tor, reaching out blanketed in moss carrying a myriad of plants and animals. Oak is the most supreme example of one species supporting whole eco systems and also reminds us that the little ones are just as important as the grand giants. The beetle, the butterfly, the gnat, snail, mouse and vole all play their own crucial role in maintaining healthy biodiverse eco systems.
So I welcome you to go exploring in this picture and follow my steps among the woodlands of Dartmoor and hope it helps you ground and connect with nature. I invite you to listen to the wild spirits calling and be tree shepherds of our world.