In the Time of Trees

Exhibition of work by Lynda Cornwell

Beech Cowey Hall cyanotype comp
Oak Pan Starks cyanotype comp
Pollard 1
Pollard 2
Pollard 3

September 2 to October 27, 2011

Many of the images in the exhibition are reproduced from glass negative slides, taken in the 1920s & 1930s, that formed part of a library of the nation's trees, held by the Forest Products Research Laboratory in Princes Risborough. What intrigued me about these images was the light, and the power of the negative image compared to the positive. I have manipulated these images and created something different from, but true to the originals. The images you see today depict the trees some 80 years ago.

Through a project for Burnham Festival of Light (see more below) I spent time at Burnham Beeches where the ancient trees have acquired some extraordinary shapes, in part through the practice of pollarding (drastic pruning) that has caused them to live years beyond their usual span.

My drawings are made from a selection of fantastical trees that captured our imaginations there. They may seem incredible, but I like to think trees like these were the inspiration for the Ents of ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Recent Projects

The Beeches Come To Burnham – Burnham Festival of Light
In the autumn of 2010, in conjunction with Flux Gallery, I worked on a project at Burnham Beeches for the annual Burnham Christmas Festival. With a group of young people from the Transformers Youth Group, who meet in Burnham, I visited Burnham Beeches, both in the day and for a night hike. From their observations of the ancient pollarded trees they drew and modelled their own trees. These models then formed the basis of a large collaged canvas spray painting.

At the same time I was taking photographs I then digitally manipulated by adding colour and special effects. Many of the images were used in a series of videos that were projected large-scale, that is actual size or larger, on to the side of buildings in Burnham High Street on the night of the December Fair.

Hide! College Lake, Tring
In summer 2010 I was invited by Alistair Will of Outdoor Culture to create an installation in Tump Hide at College Lake, a wildlife and nature reserve near Tring. My brief was to add artwork inspired by the location, flora and fauna whilst retaining the hide for its primary function - observing wildlife.

My installation was inspired by the different ways that we, and animals, see. Birds, and many other animals, perceive a greater/different visible spectrum. Most birds are tetrachromats which means they have an extra cone – ultraviolet - that allows them to distinguish 100 times more colours than we do. Many flora and fauna have ultraviolet markings that are invisible to us, but appear very bold to birds. So, for example, some flower petals have something akin to a target on them, and birds have distinctive ultraviolet markings in their plumage.

For my work in the hide I drew the species that are commonly seen at College Lake on the walls – just the ultraviolet markings have been picked out, relying on the observer to complete the picture. I also installed a prismatic film in some windows so that when the sun shines there is a rainbow of colour projected on to the walls of the hide – the sunlight is split into the individual colours of the spectrum that we humans see. But if birds were looking at this rainbow they would see an extra band of ultraviolet, invisible to us, that we can only guess at.

I work out of my studio in Commercial Square, High Wycombe, exhibiting locally and in London. My main practice is drawing and installation, often using found objects, and usually with light, in its many forms. I teach drawing classes through artsmart of Beaconsfield, Missenden Abbey and Chorleywood Community Art Centre.

I also teach from the studio in small groups and one to one. For further information: or or see my blog