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TREE + TIME = CHANGE | Peter H. Marshall

BY Helen Day | 24-Sep-2017
The tree that has been the artist’s model for this series during the past three years is a Eucalyptus, which is growing on the property where Peter and his partner live near Popes Glen – Blackheath. The three largest paintings in the exhibition are life-size, 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.
Peter’s favoured compositional theme of trees occupying the immediate and middle distance is now 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 artists 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. 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”.

-Peter H. Marshall.