The Immortality of Trees
“The first venerable tree I photographed wasBeth Moon
a yew tree in a cemetery near London in 1999.
I was so astounded that for over 20 years now,
these wooden giants have pervaded all my work.“
To catch Beth Moon’s eye, a tree must be unusually large, exceptionally ancient, or have a particularly remarkable story. To find subjects worthy of her lens, this critically-acclaimed American photographer, who has exhibited her work more than 70 times around the world, is constantly scouring history books, botanical tracts and news articles. Not to mention talking to travellers wherever she meets them, in the hopes of uncovering a rare, forgotten gem.
Over the years this project has taken her around the globe in search of the woodland giants that she finds so fascinating: The US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa… But Beth Moon isn’t interested in the celebrities of the forest. Most of the trees she photographs are in the middle of nowhere, without any signs or labels telling their stories. They have survived thanks to their isolation, or thanks to the presence of a protected area or nature reserve. These are unique, remarkable specimens.
This is the case for the Socotra dragon tree, native to a Yemeni archipelago, also known as the “Dragon blood tree” thanks to the colour of its sap, which is used in certain traditional medicines. Or the bristlecone pines in California, of which certain specimens are more than 4000 years old.
As we gaze at these silhouettes, which we can imagine watching the sun rise over a much younger world, the photographer reveals their quasi-immortality. Through this, her audience becomes aware of the primordial connection between our planet and these ancient trees.