A show where you can see the wood for the trees

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The Meffan in Forfar is currently hosting a new exhibition of work by Edinburgh-based artist Tansy Lee Moir which opened on Saturday.

A figurative artist, Tansy’s work is inspired by old trees and landscapes; their forms, their history and the influence that humans, animals and natural processes have in shaping them, in the way they provide a solid representation of time.

‘Time Around Trees’ explores the dialogue between tree and environment, investigating particular areas of interest like cavities, scars and graffiti.

It notes the strange similarities between tree and human forms which hint at the ancient links between wood and flesh.

Tansy uses maps, digital records and local knowledge to search out unusual or interesting trees, making drawings in the field, mostly during the winter and early spring.

The line drawings in this exhibition were all completed in front of the tree, and these 360 degree views attempt to capture some of its sense of movement and vitality.

All Tansy’s works begin with an encounter with a tree and with the basic process of artist, eyes, pen and paper. She uses charcoal as it enables her to express both subtlety and dramatic contrast with great flexibility.

She also feels there’s something poetic about depicting living wood using its carbonised self as a medium. Through the richness and intensity of pastel she investigates the intimate surfaces of trees and the way that winter sun makes the bark glow.

Some of her subjects, like the Newbattle beech, have obvious graffiti and carvings - humans have clearly been here and made their mark. Others, like the Dalkeith oaks, embody these interactions far more subtly; their bulbous, twisted, multi-stemmed trunks created by a complex combination of coppicing and grazing over hundreds of years.

Though they appear to be static and inanimate, trees are in fact continuously moving, adapting and reacting to their circumstances. We are just too short-lived and fast-moving to observe it. Old trees are time made wood.

The exhibition will run at The Meffan until Saturday, November 1 and admission is free.