My sweet sister has been nagging me quite a bit during the last couple of months, this because a major part of my pictures was taken in woods here in Denmark. Nevertheless, I have not felt inclined to show them publicly, first, there are a lot of them, I always bring my camera, when I am out walking, and secondly, they are not finished. It is of course pictures of a wood, but I am still thinking about, how I am taking pictures at all so it does not ‘resemble curly kale’ as a good friend once put it. This then leads to the next question, which is, what it is I am trying to photograph, when I take pictures of wood.
My childhood wood was rather small, two soccer fields perhaps, but not much more than that. It was a mixed wood with ivy twining itself up along the trunks. It was privately owned but open to the people in the village, whether it was for a sedate evening walk or for children hooting and playing Indians through the length of a day. The first time I went there was, when our neighbor, an old local woman by the name Marie, took me there just after we moved in. I must have been six years. She showed me the mounds, our ancestors were buried there thousands of years ago, she told me, and then told me that one of the mounds was called ‘the butter hole’, because it was hollow, but the sides still stood and made slopes for running up and then you could take a rest in the hollow before moving on. She showed me a secret place deep – DEEP – in the fir wood, where you had to push endlessly through swiping and scratching branches until you got to a little clearing, it was approximately four square meters. There several small groups of lily of the Valley grew, fine, poisonous, dangerous, and we plucked a small bouquet, which we brought home. My eyes were as big as platters during the whole trip, I was mesmerized – it was the most exciting place I had ever visited, and it was so vast and gigantic that you could get lost, and then it was – beautiful? – I do not think, that I thought about it in those exact terms. But I wanted more.
There was a particular fine place, where I could sit, no matter if it was reading a book or just relaxing and dreaming. It was somewhat sheltered in a deepening of the forest floor, which was covered by a thick carpet of moss. Most summers it remained emerald green and it was comfortable to sit in or lie down on for prolonged periods, even in the winter. It was always in shadow, only interrupted by sunspots who moved as the day or the cloud cover drifted by. Tall narrow fir trees and pines with only a couple of broadleaved trees surrounded that exact spot. By that time, it had dawned upon me, that the wood was a small wood and that the place where I sat was even smaller. But I could sink into it and all the details surrounding me kindled the fantasy about endless woods, dark woods, wild, gnarled and old woods, talking trees – why not, and clearings stretching like pearls on a string though the wilderness, so I never had to leave my place beneath the canopy and relate to the flat open landscape again. I longed for that wood to become real around me. The wood that I held in my head.
As a reader, to me one of the highlights is when a new point of view shatters my previous perception of things and make that almost mind-shattering blast that still vibrates years after. In this case a favorite writer suggested that the wood creates its own space, so even if it is rather small, it is only so in our rational perception of it. Her consideration resolved the despair that had arisen in the friction between my two worlds; the feeling of infinity, when I sat, stood or walked in the wood, and my knowledge; I knew, that the wood had a border, I could watch it every time I went in or out of it. The writer’s observation; that the wood does not really end, it is my perception of it that does, shook me free and made me consider how bound I needed to be in that relation. It also fed new sense into a mystery of another wanderer, my good friend Fiske, who very inexplicably seemed to get lost even in the shrubbery-type of wood. I had wondered about it, but now I could suddenly see a connection between her talent for getting lost and her drawings, both as a part of the special way she is immersed in things – she wanders directly into the vast wood. It has never changed its size when she gazed upon it.
Therefore, to answer my first question, I think that what I am trying to catch with the camera, are those glimpses of the vast wood, the infinity perspective. The moments where I am standing on the threshold to something I can almost remember and almost see. Oh, and I love weather too. The pictures I show you are from an outing just a few days ago into Dyrehaven and Jægersborg Hegn north of Copenhagen. There was a shower just before I got there, so the light was beautifully hazy with the moisture and the first autumn blushes could be seen in the foliage, of course with the chestnut in the lead. I will keep it as a story for another time, how often I have to bang my head against the wall or other available objects when I get home and discover that rabbit holes has become weird burnt out roots, that passages in the shrubbery have disappeared(!) Not to speak of trying to catch the darkness of coniferous wood, when it is at the same time so full of light.