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Trees can tell many tales

Amanda Bates’ exhibition Sylva, at the New Era theatre in Wash Common, has been extended to February 4 and will include a further two coffee mornings on January 21 (10.30am-12noon) and on the closing date of February 4 (10.30am -12noon).

Kingsclere artist Amanda is driven by a delight in drawing and an insatiable curiosity for how things work. She has a particular interest in the role of illusion and folklore in our interpretation of the unknown.

Her loosely intricate, observational drawing captures a version of reality in which wild stories reside in our woods and hedgerows.

Amanda Bates Green Corduroy
Amanda Bates Green Corduroy

The trees in Sylva are all native to the British Isles.

“The actual trees that I have drawn are mostly in Berkshire and Hampshire, with a few outliers in Surrey and Wiltshire.

“I started my extended tree study around 2018, and it rapidly became my main focus. I was initially fascinated by the interlaced pattern of exposed roots, notably those of beech trees at Avebury and Danebury Hill.

Amanda Bates
Amanda Bates

“Pen and ink, with its dramatic contrast and ability to render sharp detail, seemed right for the subject. These tree shapes were dramatic, and, in many cases, didn’t need the distraction of colour.

“Pens and ink were originally developed for writing, of course, and this links nicely into my interest in stories.

“It seems to me that trees can tell many tales, depending on how we look at them. An analytical eye can glean something of a tree’s long history; an imaginative eye might cast trees as anthropomorphic actors . Primal instinct gives us all an inclination to ‘see’ faces, figures and creatures that might or might not be there, just in case they were a threat.

Amanda Bates
Amanda Bates

“Trees seem especially likely to provoke this reaction, possibly because the forest used to be a place of darkness, mystery and danger: the setting for many a folk tale.”

Amanda’s work has been selected for exhibition by the Society of Graphic Fine Arts (2021, 2022) and the Society of Women Artists (2021, 2022), among others. She won the 2022 Friends’ Award at the Red House Museum Open Exhibition for her drawing Palisade.

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