The Root Branch Tree Story...

The Tree Textures story…

It probably started when my wife and I were living far apart and were looking for ways to stay connected.   She was in England and I was living on the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts.   We would set up little contests to see who could take the best photo from nature and then share them at the end of the week.    I’d always been a keen gardener and I was living in a giant garden on the edge of a rain forest.   But having this little contest moved me to look more closely than I had ever looked before.    One of the things I started looking at was tree bark.   It is easy to walk past and not notice.   But when you slow down and look close there is so much more to see.    And once you have a photograph you can sit with it quietly and look even more closely.   

When I moved to England in 2017 (after 28 years in the Caribbean) there was a whole new landscape of plants to re-discover.    I’d always loved trees and wanted to learn to identify all the different kinds in the UK.   I started to take photos of every different tree and became especially fascinated by the different bark patterns.    

One thing I discovered is that when you take a lot of pictures the vast majority of them are not worth looking at again.   But every once in a while you capture one that is worth framing and hanging on a wall.  Some I found near to home and some while traveling in other countries.    I began to think of them as tree bark portraits.    Just as with a person a good portrait captures and communicates some essence of the individual.  


The first public showing of the tree bark portraits was in 2018 on the Arundel Gallery Trail.   [see blog post about the exhibition].  Thousands of people saw the exhibition and I got many uplifting comments like, “I’ve never looked closely at tree bark before, I’ll be looking at the world differently now.”   A surprisingly large number of tree bark fans quietly introduced themselves and spoke of having hundreds of bark photos on their phones.   

In 2019 I started thinking about my own frustrations finding cushion designs which worked for the kind of contemporary decor we wanted.    It was rare to find something in a shop which I wanted to take home and have as part of my life.   I started thinking that perhaps there were a more people, who wanted to bring trees and nature into their homes but in a contemporary way.   I selected 8 of my favorite tree portraits and started making them as cushions.   These cushions are the Tree Textures Collection.

The Branchscape Story….

Living through winter again (after all those years in the Caribbean)  I started noticing how wonderful the leafless tree branch patterns are when viewed against the sky.   We have a world of Landscapes around us and we are used to experiencing them as wide panoramas of fields and hills and mountains.  The trees branches create another extraordinary vista but in English there is no word for it.   Then one day it hit me,  there is the landscape all around us and within that there is the Branchscape.    

I’ve started to become attuned to the  Branchscape, which we see when we  look through the bare trees in Winter.  The marvelous structures of the limbs and fine branches.   It is the gift that comes after the falling of the leaves.

I’ve been photographing Branchscapes and searching through them for images which capture that gift.   Once I find one I add color to the background, print it on soft cloth and it becomes part of the Branchscape Collection.    

Is it possible to bring some of what we love about trees and forests closer into our lives by bringing pictures of them into our homes?  To bring inside the feeling we have when we are around trees?

I say it is possible.  Root Branch Tree is the expression of the quest to realize this.    

-Martin Lowell