Parallel Worlds

IMG_4416

I went for a walk in the rain through Birnam Wood this morning. The river had flooded the wood, and still surrounded some of the trees. Where it had subsided, most of the leaves which had carpeted the paths had been washed away. In some ways, it felt like nature had hoovered up the mess, as the leaves had been turning to mush and mud, and were no longer the crisp attractive autumnal delights which they had been a few months ago.

IMG_4428

IMG_4445

Signs of greenery brightened up the wood on this miserable day

Walking near the river bank, I saw signs of greenery, which was actually quite refreshing on such a dreich day. The Birnam Oak sat in a pool of water – a sight which is really rare… so I decided to capture some images of this on my iPhone.The reflections were quite impressive, and made me think, as always, that I am looking through magic mirror into a parallel world. It also brought to mind some research I have been doing lately into divination and scrying – a technique where the future could be read from glass, crystal, water or flames.

Birnam_oak_reflection

A rare sight – the Birnam Oak standing in water and casting its reflection

Birnam_oak_reflection

Inverting the photo – a glimpse into a parallel world?

IMG_4449-2

I began to think about the seasons, and how the location looks completely different in winter, bare, cold, desolate, unwelcoming – compared with the lush and warm wood that I know in the summer, and the amber adorned trees of autumn.  It’s no surprise that the ancient dwellers of this land, the Celts, worshipped the Sun, building stone circles and doing circular dances in its honour (which is where the Scottish dance the reel is derived from).

When I got home, I played around with some of the images I had taken in Birnam Wood,  overlapping photos taken throughout the seasons to create new and mysterious fantasy locations, parallel worlds, dreamlike, as if they had appeared in a vision or prophecy.

STEPSTOTRANQUILITY

“How deep is your love?”  (digitally manipulated photography)

The steps leading to the wood, combined with Common Knapweed and foliage. Knapweed was used by young women in love divination spells.

BURDOCK_PORTAL

“Sanctuary” (digitally manipulated photography)

The “door” in the Birnam Oak and Greater Burdock/ foliage. Burdock is used in magic to ward off negativity and for general protection.

ghosttree4

“Knowledge is power” (digitally manipulated photography)

Beech trees and dew drops on their mossy bark. The Beech is linked with time, wisdom and knowledge and can grant wishes if you write onto its bark and bury it. Club moss is linked with power (I couldn’t find a magical use for Bonfire Moss, which is actually the variety in the photo). The dew drops look very like crystal balls.

These images are liminal spaces between fantasy and reality, like one dream which merges into another. They are reminiscent of Triptography, a surrealist technique discovered when artist Christopher Thurlow ran out of film and ended up using the same roll over and over again.

24

Christopher Thurlow’s accidental image, which he called Triptography

I really enjoyed making these fantasy landscapes and can see potential with making some faux-magic imagery and illusions, or perhaps even melding together images from Birnam Wood and Dusinane hill, as in the prophecy of Macbeth.

Advertisements

Lab work

Recently I have been collecting a variety of fungi from Birnam Wood, picking them and storing pieces of them into small sterile specimen bottles. I wanted to do some experiments which would involve taking swabs of them and growing them on agar jelly under lab conditions. Too often we get swept away with what we see around us, but forget about all the existing entities that we don’t see….I want to explore this theme through using bacterial growths and possibly microscopic images too.

I purchased a consignment of round petri dishes from Amazon, 150mm in diameter, and was also given some smaller 100mm diameter petri dishes from Maggie Fenton, the lab technician at work. She sterilised the dishes for me, and made up some agar jelly, which was poured into the dishes to set.

I took a few different samples up to her, and she showed me how to spread sample onto the plates, and also to bury small samples of the fungi into the jelly.

IMG_2788-2

The petri dishes…I ordered the largest size which would fit into the steriliser, but wished I could have used some that were much much bigger!

IMG_2792-2

Some of the samples that I used from Birnam Wood

IMG_2801-2

The bottles had been sitting in my studio for a few weeks, and the smell was very strong when they were opened. They were held next to the bunsen flame to kill off any spores that might be present. Samples were sucked up and squirted onto the plate, before being spread around over the agar gel.

IMG_2833

IMG_2803

IMG_2836

I did 9 samples altogether, which included Common Puffball, Oyster Mushrooms, Boletus Subtomentosus and Common Bonnet . Some of the samples were applied to both a small and large plate, and were distributed both by spotting and by spreading. IMG_2847

IMG_2869

They were then put into the incubation unit where I have left them to work their magic. I’m feeling excited about what the results might be, but realise that they may also be a huge disappointment, so I’ll just have to wait and see. I’m going to leave them over the weekend, and will return on Monday to see what has developed.
IMG_2854
IMG_2848