I have been interested in the art of forest bathing for a while, Forest bathing known as Shinrin Yoku, is a Japanese practice which is a process of relaxation; being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply. As my research encompasses the potential of the landscape to represent the inner experience, I felt that a visit to a local wood might help with this research. I considered the site for the forest bath and selected a perfect location close to where I live (as lockdown restrictions applied) called Chapel Woods. There was a double bonus as when I got to the woods I found this was also the site of a Holy Well too.
When following the principles of Shinrin Yoku the key is to turn off devices, slow down, take deep breaths and just be aware of what is around you, use you senses of smell, touch, hearing as well as seeing Take time to pause and breathe. I found the woods were a perfect place for using my senses.
Chapel woods is a RSBB reserve and is a small woodland on a hillside. It felt very contained and a perfect spot, however I did follow a designated path through the woods, it was difficult to just wander as I might normally do as a walking artist following the principles of derive. However even keeping to the path, you could touch the damp bark and rub hands through the lichen.
The woodland is mainly made up of Oak and beech trees. It felt alive breathing woodland and As Roger Deakin (.2008 ) talks in Wildwood ‘the life of a tree is in fact akin to that of a human life, Living and dying on a human scale.’ When talking about environmental artists Newton and Helen Harrison, eco-feminist Carolyn Merchant has praised the way ‘they think of the world as a giant conversation, in which everyone is involved, not only people, but trees and rocks and landscapes and rivers.’ When walking through a wood such as this and albeit there were no ‘ash domes’ you you can get a glimpse of why wood inspires sculptors such as David Nash. Whilst walking in the wood, I came across some art which indeed might have been created by the someone inspired by the works of Andy Goldsworthy.
From the outside of the wood, it was just a bunch of trees by a road that I often drive by. However in essence the environment of the wood felt haptic, you could really immerse your self into the wood, hence the name forest bathing. It really felt like you entered a space that played with your senses. My question now is how can i interpret this into print for my MA? I am interested in using the zoomed in photos to try to represent the tactile nature of the forest. Maybe I could consider Frottage which was suggested by lecturer Steven Paige in one of my tutorials at PCA. and defined by Tate ‘a surrealist and ‘automatic’ method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material’
Deakin, Roger. 2008. Wildwood. Harlow, England: Penguin Books.
Jobson, C., (2016). Ash Dome: A Secret Tree Artwork in Wales Planted by David Nash in 1977. [Online]. Available at https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/05/ash-dome-david-dash/. [Accessed on 15/03/2021]
Tate, (no date). Frottage – Art Term. [Online]. Available at https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/f/frottage. [Accessed on 15/03/2021]