Natural & Unnatural: A Visual Discourse

For my 2020 Photos in Review I wrote:

My COVID walks took me along less-peopled back alleys, side streets and busy thoroughfares, just myself and my camera. There wasn’t much to photograph and I doubt very much I’ll be writing those up.

During the winter my COVID walks became even more boring. To amuse myself I started taking shots of abstract textures layered onto dumpsters, lampposts and other urban objects, along with endless macros of tree bark.

Diptychs: A Conversation between Natural and Unnatural. Used concrete forms and tree bark from around the neighbourhood.
Used concrete forms and tree bark.

In the spring of 2021 I noticed these two photos sitting next to one another in my photos of Mexico City and saw an interesting dialogue happening between the two of them.

Diptych of Abstract grey wall and tree bark both with splashes of orange
Diptych of tree bark and abstract grey wall, both in Mexico City, both with splashes of orange.

After combining them into a diptych, I soon saw other connections from my COVID walks and realized that those long months of alley hopping were not such a waste of time when it came to doing art.

tree bark with white fungi collaged with rusty dumpster

White fungi on a half-dead tree collaged with one of my favourite rusty dumpsters.

The first diptychs came together very quickly, which I thought of as conversations between two very different objects, natural and unnatural.

Speckles on the peeling bark of the Paper Maple tree combined with splotches and peeling paint on a forgotten wall.
Speckles on the peeling bark of the Paper Maple tree combined with splotches and peeling paint on a forgotten wall.

Trying to find a quote that encompassed my ‘vision’ I came across this:

On pavements and the bark of trees I have found whole worlds.

Mark Tobey (1890–1976)

Mark Tobey was a contemporary American artist of the ‘Northwest School’. His work is very different than mine, almost calligraphic, and reminiscent of East Asian art.

Diptych of dumpsters with graffiti combined with wood with the insect tunnels just below the bark exposed.
Graffiti is calligraphic in its own way, and here are two examples of dumpsters with graffiti that have been combined with old wood containing insect tunnels, an indecipherable script from another species.

More local COVID walk amusements…

Abstract diptych of rusty cracked paint on a bollard combined with the peeling bark of a Paper Maple tree

Abstract diptych of cracked paint on a rusty bollard combined with the peeling bark of a Paper Maple tree.

Abstract diptych combining the texture of rusty scratched metal with fissured tree bark.

Abstract diptych combining the texture of rusty scratched metal with fissured tree bark

Bark on a fallen tree in Pacific Spirit Park combined with a rusty cement mixer outside a construction site.

A collage of tree bark with scratched posters on a black lamppost.

Abstract diptych combining the texture of rusty corrugated metal and a blue strip, with fissured tree bark

Abstract diptych combining the texture of rusty corrugated metal plus a strip of blue together with fissured tree bark.

This abstract of a rust patch on a dumpster combined with a fissure in peeling birch bark that one reader described as ‘soulmates’.

abstract of a rust patch on a dumpster combined with peeling birch bark
Tree bark with orange lichen combined with a rusty dumpster with cracked metallic blue paint

Tree bark with orange lichen combined with a rusty dumpster with cracked metallic blue paint.

Diptych of rain dripping down green lichen-crusted bark & spray paint city locker.

white-stripe green bark from a Snake Bark Maple combined with scraped hull of a small wood boat
Diptych of the white-striped green bark of a Snake Bark Maple combined with scraped paint on the hull of a small wooden rowboat.
scraggy bark combined with graffiti on a wall
Scraggy bark combined with graffiti on a wall.
Abstract diptych of Pussy Willow catkins by the local duck pond together with the accidental art gallery created with concrete forms at a local building site

The discovery of an accidental ‘art gallery’ created with used concrete forms at a construction site opposite my studio and the first appearance of spring in the form of Pussy Willow catkins at a nearby duck pond came together to form this image.

The exciting discovery of these used concrete forms made me remember some other concrete forms that were at UBC many years earlier. With their rich orange coloration they were a perfect match with arbutus tree bark photographed over on Vancouver Island.

Another UBC concrete form together with another arbutus.

These two images were taken over on Vancouver Island in February 2020 just before COVID restrictions hit. Here peeling paint on a rusty dumpster is combined with the peeling bark of an Arbutus tree.

While I was going through my photos of Vancouver Island I found this image of the shaggy tree bark of what I think is a young Spruce and combined it with an abstract of telephone pole covered with torn and stapled posters.

The exploration continues, an interesting journey at a time when travelling isn’t allowed…

More of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Getting to Know You.

7 thoughts on “Natural & Unnatural: A Visual Discourse

  1. I think this is the second post in your discovery of abstracts Elizabeth. These are quite beautiful and seem even better matched than your earlier post – kudos!

    1. This is actually my fourth post but who’s counting. Right now it’s a work in progress and I have no idea where it’s going, it’s just going. There’s nothing out there to reference so I just put them together based on whether it tickles my fancy or not. The best part for me is that I thought those long months of alley hopping were a bit of a waste when it came to doing art and it’s a pleasure to see something come out of them…

  2. Wow! These juxtapositions make such beautiful images to ponder…truly an Art that entices connection. How creative and serendipitous to discover it after lonely walks in seeming boredom. The world is always beautiful, though, and those who see its beauty are always rewarded. Thanks for joining the challenge and sharing your amazing creations!

    1. I too was surprised when my small attempts at keeping in touch with the world actually started to connect in an unexpected way – something coming out of what I thought was nothing. Thanks for stopping my way…

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