Visual Narrative #029-The Arbutus Tree

VN #029: The Arbutus Tree
Posted June 2, 2024


The Arbutus Tree

Photographing the ‘interior’ from the ‘interior’


Arbutus trees don’t grow up on the central Plateau of British Columbia where I live, so when I was walking to the beach on Gabriola Island to photograph sandstone patterns, the extraordinary bark of an Arbutus tree instantly caught my eye. Its deep red-orange colour seemed intertwined with greens and yellows; it’s as if the bark peeled itself open to reveal its colours to me.

Warm evening light reveals the extraordinary beauty of an Arbutus tree.

On days gone by, I might have made the above representational image and then moved on to where I had planned to photograph. Not so today, as a newly developed toolkit has opened a door to artistic expression. What might have been the only image I made of the arbutus tree is now only the beginning of the much deeper visual exploration.

As the bark peels open, I enter the trees ‘interior’.

Because art comes from one’s ‘interior’, I realized as I purposefully explored the tree’s outer cover, I was entering not only my own ‘interior’, but also that of the tree’s.

Arbutus interior I

Arbutus interior II

Arbutus spirit land I

Arbutus spirit land II

Within two hours of stimulating exploration and discovery, I had, through photography, made a deep connection with an arbutus tree. Ever since this experience, whenever I see an arbutus tree, I have a deeper understanding of both myself and the arbutus.



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