An artist’s perspective on our forests


in Love Trees

Since Save Our Woods asked me to write a post a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been struggling. What could I write that would be a useful contribution? Among all the knowledgeable experts on forestry and eco-systems, economics and politics, I’m just an artist who paints trees!

Then I heard Helen Goodman MP speak so passionately during the live parliamentary debate on Wednesday, using phrases like ‘free spirits’ and referring to inspiration, folklore, and physical, mental and spiritual freedom. I realized that pushed into the background by the current obsession with monetary profit, market forces and measurable assets, there are these ‘lovely intangibles’ that remain vital for our well being and valid for our argument.

How can we quantify the feeling of looking up through light-dappled leaves, that lifting of the spirits, which at the same time brings tears to our eyes? It is not only with our physical senses that we revel in the scent of damp earth, the soaring trunks, the sighing of the wind through branches. Is beauty measurable?  What price do we dare to put on imagination, creativity or sense of place? And what material gain could possibly be worth the dulling of our conscience?

There is an ancient symbolism in trees and forests that runs through history. It flows through our literature, our art, our popular culture, and it is inextricably linked with freedom and justice. That is one of the reasons we are so passionately opposed to the unfair and unnecessary proposals to sell off our forests.

Ingrid Sylvestre

Do you love trees, woodlands and forests?

Do you have a favourite tree?

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dev tarun February 10, 2011 at 09:54

Lots of great information and inspiration, which we all need! I really appreciate the efforts made by you for this. Well Done! Thanks for sharing the information with us.

Roderick Leslie March 21, 2011 at 18:43

Dear Ingrid,

Its people like you we need to hear from, its not about forestry facts and hard cash figures – almost everyone who has stood up for the forests will, I suspect, have done it for emotional reasons – because they love a particular place and like you say it is those unquantifiable moments that really matter. I think what we saw is the growing reaction against the hard concrete of urban life – not that we are going to change it, but as the alternative where we can relax and unwind. My dream is to bring the new forests we created in places like Thames Gateway and the North West closer to where more and more people live so ‘doorstep woods’ can become part of even more everyday lives.

Ingrid Sylvestre March 21, 2011 at 21:00

Hello Roderick

Thank you for this comment, it is encouraging to know that our emotions and love for the unquantifiable aspects of our forests are an important voice for the campaign.

And how strongly I agree about the importance of ‘doorstep woods’! Places close by to home and work, where we can step so swiftly and easily into a woodland environment to be refreshed and invigorated. What immeasurable value to us and what a wonderful dream to share.

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