I walk in a wood of beech trees in early May close to my home in Southern England. The wood is full with life, from its far stretching roots that burrow low beneath my feet, its carpet of leaf and bluebell, to its canopy of glistening light 40 meters (130 feet) above. I have sensed this place over many years.
Life lives its lifetime and visits this wood: microorganisms, plants, insects, birds, and animals. In this place the moon pulls, the sun pours, the rain, snow, mist, and all the incalculable tiny particles that journey through the air become absorbed into its being.
As I walk I sense more than the musky scent of hiding hare, the touch of spider web against my cheek, the glint of shadow and light as the breeze moves the tender lime-green leaves of spring, the bitter taste of bark suspended in the air, the beauty of unseen birds resounding near and far. I sense my nature. I sense my story as child and man. I sense myself as small moment of a greater thing that breathes.
Two photos of the beech wood in spring that inspired the artwork...
Memory: the storage and retrieval of information.
Proprioception: the ability that allows a being to perceive its body in space.
Pleasure: an intensely positive sensation or feeling.
Pain: an intensely negative sensation or feeling.
I ponder on the likelihood these abilities and experiences extend from the animal kingdom to the plant world. Pleasure or pain is unique to the entity experiencing it. The nature of pleasure and pain would be very different to a plant, but then, my pleasure and pain is very much my own and is very different to yours. My pleasure is not provable. It exists only within me. Although at times I can show you what hurts, I cannot show you my pain. Perhaps it is the same for plants. Perhaps my consideration of this leads to my greater value, my greater care of living things.
As an animal I think and respond quickly to stimulus. Plants generally respond more slowly, sometimes over many years. This difference of the speed of my response often leaves me blind to appreciate the inner slower world of plants. I share many of the same building blocks, but as an independent creature with organs and a central nervous system, with thought, I distance and dismiss those often concealed, dependent senses that are not so easily known nor understood.
The Inner World of Plants is an image that melds the fragments of life and nature into a seamless canvas of pale-blue sky, the green and yellow ochre of earth, and the myriad forms of animals living in a place I can only think to express as nature. This coming together, this interdependence is the 'experience', the inner world of plants.
A second extract from the lower left of the full size work is followed by a reduced view of the complete image: