Nestled in Nature
I recently attended an exhibition at The Empty Quarter photography gallery in Dubai. The exhibition is a group showing of work by Beth Moon, Allan Gill and Waleed Marhoum. As the title of the exhibition, ‘Nestled in Nature’ suggests, the theme of the show is the beauty of nature, captured and commemorated although alongside the rise of technology, it is often now not experienced.
The three photographers have combined their very different approaches for this exhibition.
US photographer Beth Moon has been taking photographs of ancient trees for over 13 years, some of which are over 4000 years old. As she did so she began to learn more about them and found that their numbers are dwindling every year. Her photographs are testimony to the earth’s largest living monuments and her exhibition prints are created using the process of platinum printing. This is a process, which can create prints that could survive thousands of years, like the trees she photographs.
The trees that Moon selects as subjects are far from ordinary and are selected on the basis of age, size and notable history. Many are unusual in shape and design and look almost otherworldly.
One of Moon’s photographs that caught my attention and imagination was Rilke’s Bayon, a black and white photograph from her Portraits of Time series. The scene shows a tall, twisting tree; it’s branches, appearing to reach towards the sky. The trees large thick roots are visible and trail across the bottom of the frame. The tree seems to be rise from the ruins of a structure and it’s roots creep across the ruin appearing to become part of it. The tree appears huge and my eye travelled up and down the length of its trunk. The scene appears almost mythical and the immediate question that sprung to my mind was, where is this place?
The bizarre nature of the scene and the, seemingly, never-ending height of the tree, brought to my mind a series of books that I read as a child, The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. The tree in the book was so high that it reached to the clouds and beyond to magical lands. As I read the books as a child, I had pictured a tree not dissimilar to this one.
More information on Moon’s work can be found at www.bethmoon.com
Allan Gill, a Canadian, is a semi-retired veterinarian, who has combined his love of nature with fine art photography. With technical assistance from collaborators in radiology and photo manipulation he explores the art of x-ray floral photography.
The work exhibited contained examples from his Colour and White on Black series. The photographs were interesting, showing the flowers as translucent and delicate while the method recorded every detail of their construction. The overall feeling I got when viewing the photographs was that it was all very precise and scientific. Many of the photographs made me think of samples on slides being examined under a microscope. However, that being said, the technology used has captured the flowers in incredible detail that shows their beauty.
More information about Gill’s work can be found at www.allangillphotography.com
Waleed Marhoum is a Saudi Arabian who began his career as a calligrapher, but in 2005 turned his attention to photography. His work shows landscapes, seascapes and desert scenes shot in the Middle East. I found Marhoum’s photographs to be immensely interesting due to the beauty that the scenes convey and also because I live in Saudi Arabia for over three years and know rom first hand experience that when away from the cities and towns the desert can be absolutely breathtaking.
Desert Style Mahajja Mountain, Saudi Arabia, shows a desert scene with a large, smooth-sided mountain at the centre. The black and white format helps shows the contrast between the smooth rock and the rough texture of surrounding rock. To me, it conveys a feeling of quiet and a remoteness that made me consider that the scene was akin to a lunar landscape.
Edge of the world, Tuwaig Mountains, Saudi Arabia was another photograph which made me immediately think of remoteness and recall the vastness of Saudi Arabia. The black and white crisp landscape shows a rocky mountain occupying the bottom left quarter of the frame, while a very thin, windy road reaches away from this disappearing towards the horizon. The top half of the frame shows a cloud sky that adds some drama to the image.
Marhoum is also exhibiting some colour works, which show the colours of the diverse landscapes and plant life of the region.
More information about Marhoum’s work can be found at http://www.marhoum.ws
The exhibition is running until October 13th, 2012. More information can be found at http://www.theemptyquarter.com