‘There is only one way to see things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.‘
How are the mighty fallen? | Mixed Media | 2021
The quotation ‘How are the mighty fallen?’ is from David’s lament in the Old Testament’s second book of Samuel. David mourns the loss of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, both who have fallen in battle. The comparison between fallen trees and those fallen in combat may seem over dramatic, and morphing sap into blood, over sentimental. However, trees are such a vital part of our environment, that dramatic stop lights are required to draw attention to the frequent carnage of tree felling on building sites or on land destined for cash crops. The callous disregard toward trees, over thousands of years, has led to the de-forestation of Britain, and more recently, the Amazon — with worldwide consequences for climate change. There’s a danger in anthropomorphism – whether talking to trees or hugging them — however, they live in supportive communities, communicate with and feed one another and deserve to be treated as the sophisticated eco-system that they are.
As well as being victims of the chainsaw, the reasons why trees fall are many. Old age, disease, storms, wildfires and flooding, to name a few. However, ‘death by natural causes’ is all too rare. Soil erosion on our uplands and the frequent swelling of rivers is loosening tree roots and making them more vulnerable to storms. Also, the increase in tree diseases is due largely to human interference with respect to land use.
So the question ‘How are the mighty fallen?’ needs an answer whenever we come across a fallen tree.
Corvid 19 | Mixed Media
The scientific name for crow is ‘corvid’ – menacingly close to the name of our current global health crisis, which is wreaking, not only a devastating death toll, but also a deterioration in the mental health of so many.
In European folklore crows have long been seen as harbingers of death, and it was crows that Van Gogh painted in one of his last works before he committed suicide. The canvas ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ was painted while he was suffering from severe depression and it expresses his darkest premonitions.
Equally global and devastating is our climate crisis, of which our love affair with plastic, now littering our countrysjde, is but one example. Nature has become so entangled with plastic — sometimes it becomes difficult to see one from the other. And of course these two worldwide catastrophes are joined painfully at the hip.
Van Gogh said this about his painting: ‘Wheat is not only people’s primary form of sustenance, but also symbolic of the ripening and reaping of human life. I had no difficulty in expressing my sadness and extreme loneliness, but also all that I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside – the brush almost fell from my hand.’ The path was an image he used when preaching a sermon based on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, where Pilgrim is weighed down by the road of life that feels so long, and yet rejoices because he knows the eternal city is waiting at the end of the journey.