Art Meets Ecology features the paintings and drawings created by The Arborealists – an informal group of professional artists with an interest in painting trees and woodland – in Lady Park Wood, an ancient, semi-natural wood on the slopes and cliffs of the Wye Gorge on the borders of England and Wales.
Uniquely, the wood, which has been left to grow naturally for up to 150 years, has been studied in detail since 1944 and the fortunes of hundreds of individual trees have been tracked for three-quarters of a century. The artworks are matched with a commentary by George Peterken, who has led the research since the 1980s. Both artists and ecologists observe trees and woods closely, but express their understanding of the wood in totally different forms. The two interests came together to deepen their understanding of each other and their different perspectives in an interest they share and promote a broader interest and understanding of native woodlands generally. Elm disease, the great drought of 1976, storms, snow and now ash disease have taken their toll on the ageing beech, oak, lime, ash, yew, hazel and many other species, many of which now lie prone in great heaps of dead wood and re-growth.
"[...] I think that this exceptional collaboration of art and science is genuinely inspired. The book is beautifully printed and laid out. [...] We need a name for this sort of art-meets-science, for which woodland makes an ideal template – eco-art, or ‘silviflection’? But, perhaps, after all, arborealism says it best."
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 32(3), December 2020