One tree over time

TREE x CHANGE X Late Winter 2017
106 x 91 c. 
Peter H. Marshall
Oil on canvas

TREE x CHANGE X Late Winter 2017 106 x 91 c. Peter H. Marshall Oil on canvas

One tree over time has been the inspiration for Peter H. Marshall’s latest exhibition Tree + Time = Change at Day Fine Art in Blackheath.

Marshall’s favoured compositional theme of trees occupying the immediate and middle distance is emphasised to the extreme in this new body of work.

The tree is observed up very close, so that the observer can see only the lower sections of the trunk and its great bulk filling the visual field and dominating the compositions. In this near claustrophobic viewpoint the unique intricacies of design in surface pattern and curled bark shapes become a documentation of ephemeral change, reminding us the tree is a living thing that is growing, changing and altering in its appearance constantly over time.

These, however, are not fleeting glimpses expressed quickly such as impressionism would require but a sustained observation of the subject as it appeared in that segment of time.

The artist’s intention was to observe the way shadows, light, weather conditions and the time of day or year interact with the bark and trunk of the same tree. Each work in the series was developed by noting all the variations of change, small or large, which had occurred since the last visit to the motif and how much visual impact these changes had.

“We are often wanting to hold onto things as they are, but that's not the nature of life or living things and the changes that come are often just as beautiful, if not more beautiful than before,” said Marshall.

“In a sense, this series of work is an observation about all life, using the motif of one tree as a symbol of life’s journey as it moves through time and space”.  

The tree that has been the artist’s model for this series during the past three years is a eucalypt, which is growing on the property where Peter and his partner live near Popes Glen in Blackheath. The three largest paintings in the exhibition are lifesize, showing the trunk of the tree the actual size of the real tree, which in a sense offers another layer of reality to the experience of the paintings.

Marshall will give an artist’s talk tomorrow (October 14) at 2pm at Day Gallery, 27-29 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath. Open Friday to Monday or by appointment |