Part of my photographic routine is to visit a nearby flood plain. In winter, the river breaks its banks and overwhelms the area, water, and wind combine in a powerful torrent that alters the landscape. The waters force is abated as it encounters the willows, and damage is avoided further downstream. Debris is moved around, and deposited silt provided the conditions for this years growth. Areas are exposed or covered, new arrangements are created, fences are broken, then rebuilt, shape and form dominate the appearance as exploration becomes paramount.
According to local folklore, two centuries ago, this was home to a community of willow platters. They would supply the nearby towns via the river with willow length or finished baskets. The trees were coppiced or manipulated to access suitable growth, and the foundations of their buildings and connecting water channel still exist. The old name of the area was Willow Garth, which has now disappeared from use.
The place is special; few people enter this domain, and I suspect I want to keep it like this.
Part of landscape photography is translating how we perceive the land. Certainly trees represent an economic resource and increasingly an environmental benefit, but could they possibly offer more, comfort, protection, reflection and even resolution. Are they the ‘wealth’ – the well-being of our nation, not just an accumulated resource.
A small extract from the poem The Battle of the Trees (Cad Goddeu) to reflect on;
I have been in a multitude of shapes,
Before I assumed a consistent form.
I have been a sword, narrow, variegated,
I will believe when it is apparent.
I have been a tear in the air,
I have been the dullest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
I have been a book in the origin.
I have been the light of lanterns,
A year and a half.
I have been a continuing bridge,
Over three score Abers.*
- Aber means river mouth in Welsh.
The growing collection of images of this special place can be found here.