Stanley Donwood... On Trees

September 18, 2013

Yesterday, we showed you a preview of Stanley Donwood's new show, Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere, opening that London's The Outsiders gallery on September 20, 2013. When we were looking at the new work, we started seeing a theme... a theme that has entered Donwood's work with Radiohead and the King Of Limbs LP: trees! Lots of lonely, ghostly, reaching, bare trees. So we asked Mr Donwood... what's up with the trees?

"It's not really a new fascination… as my youngest daughter told me (kind of angrily) I've been drawing and painting trees for five years. The paintings for the show were begun in about 2009 and although they were used, in a semi-completed state, as part of the artwork for the Radiohead record The King of Limbs, it has actually taken me until now to finish them. They are about the forests of northern Europe; the deep atavistic dreams and fears that emerge from the dark woods as the mists of night rise from the damp earth.

"I’m fascinated by fairytales; Hansel and Gretel, Baba Yaga and all the stories that emanated from the northern European forests. The idea that things can change when you stray from the path, when the endless trees disorientate you and sounds become unsettling. From Little Red Riding Hood to The Blair Witch Project, the fascination and danger of the forests has never been far from our collective subconscious. When you consider that until very recently most humans spent most of their lives outdoors, surrounded by the natural world, it’s unsurprising that there are nebulous creatures from the woods inhabiting almost forgotten corners of our psyche. I wonder if the faces we ‘imagine’ we see in the dark (or out from the darkness, staring in at the window) are common to all of us? I recently tested this out by becoming lost in about 70 acres of woodland in the late afternoon. It went from interesting to terrifying quite quickly."

Go see Donwood's show.