is the culmination of an 8 month project undertaken in the Tamar Valley. Occupied for centuries, particularly during the industrial revolution when it became one of the most excavated landscapes in Europe, the significance of the area’s mining history is recognised in its listing as a World Heritage site. Redevelopment in the 20th century, with much of the land being devoted to forestry has contributed to its designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The transition from the industrialisation of past to the apparent beauty of the present was one of the factors that drew me to the Valley. Walking is an integral part of my practice, spending long periods of time spent alone to achieve states of mind that reveal the subtleties of the sense of place. These walks led me into the dense forest plantations, environments in a continual state of transition both through natural process and human intervention. Although regarded as naturally beautiful, these are anthropogenic landscapes – constructed, shaped, transformed by human activity that continues to alter the ecology of the space.

The forest is an integral part of British culture and one that is arguably engrained in our psyche. It is a meeting place for nature and culture, and not just on a physical level. Forests feature heavily in many of our myths, legends and fairy tales. They are culturally constructed places of magic, mystery and enchantment where beauty can become dark and foreboding. Time alone in the forests of the Tamar Valley in the very early morning and late evening, frequently aroused such feelings of unease. The miles of deserted logging trails and the industrial ruins and disused quarries lurking in the gloom have an eerie quality. Inside the rationally minded adult there remains, it seems, a child who is still unsettled by the supernatural realm of the forest. In Das Unheimlich, The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud refers to the experience of uncertainty, a psychological state rooted in childhood fears of solitude, silence and darkness. Over time this sensation became an integral part of the work, resulting in a personal project that seeks to explore the liminal space between the physical experience of the landscape, and the thoughts, feelings and fears within.

The term Understory defines the underlying layer of vegetation between the canopy and the forest floor, a distinctive ecosystem that evolves under the shade of the trees. This is a project about the forest but also some of the narratives that hide within.

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