There is no denying that autumn is the season of the trees and with the passing of the equinox the days get increasingly but subtly shorter. In a response to this lack of daylight the tress slow down the production of chlorophyll and the classic autumnal tones of yellow orange and red briefly glow before the frost and gales of November nip them off with the dexterity of a bonsai master.
Situated on the foothills of the Sugar Loaf ( Pen Y Fal ) in a perfectly orientated southerly position is a ancient oak woodland once a medieval deer park belonging to Hamelin de Ballon 1060-1105 ( the first Norma lord of Abergavenny ). He is believed to of established the Benedictine Priory in Abergavenny a cell of Abbey of Saint Vincent in Le Mans France. As with most places of worship built by the conquering forces, it is believed to of been built on the site of a Roman and previously Celtic place of worship. I suppose at this stage we must at least offer thanks to Henry VIII for if it weren’t for his marital shenanigans leading to the eventual setting free of this woodland, its arrival in the capable hands of the National Trust might not of happened
It is in my humble opinion the finest ancient oak woodland in the Brecon Beacons footprint. It has been left to grow old gracefully so to speak with minimal and sympathetic management. The stone boundary wall and HA-HA can still been seen and is in fact one of the most intact example of its type in Wales and is listed under the umbrella of the International Council on Monuments and Sites.
I know this wood particularly well as I have been visiting it for many years and for many reason. As it was with in walking distance of my secondary school and as most of you who have followed my work for any length of time are fully aware by my lack of grammar and atrocious spelling that me and school did really bond or should I say school and I. So when I embarked on a month long photographic project to capture the essence of Autumn I was in familiar surroundings which allowed me to concentrate on the environment from the start and not having to waste any time in feeling my way around as once the autumnal colour starts to develop time is not on anybodies side.
I filmed my diary blog as I worked this woodland and charted the project developing
The resulting images represent a journey into the initially cluttered but naturally ordered mass of trees and branches to a position of understanding and the environment. The first collection was an initial exploration in an attempt to find order and composition
Developing the concept of distilling the initial chaos down into a collection of coherent images ( as explained in this diary entry ) I started to look at the individual constituent components of the very unique environment of an Ancient Oak Woodland. At first I looked at the woodland floor looking for well I don`t know what but it was whilst on my knees looking through the leaf litter and decaying wood that I came to the epiphany ( as seen in this diary entry ) and the individual elements of this woodland are in fact the trees as on mass they are a complete entity and living breathing organism which be little us humans.
As the shortening of the days signal the gradual slowing down of the trees, the canopy thins and light is able to penetrate deep into the woodland. Shafts of light dance through the pale autumnal leaves and crisp bracken fresh from rain the sun becomes trapped in the millions of droplets that grace the skeletal form of the dying bracken. The woodland featured in this collection is at some where around 400-500m above sea level and at this altitude clouds very often become trapped in the embrace of the oak trees and can be seen gliding around the woodland as if looking for escape.
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