Book: Beth Moon – Ancient Trees. Portraits of Time.
Ancient Trees. Portraits of Time.
Photographs by Beth Moon.
Abbeville Press, Jackson, 2014. 132 pp., 70 duotone illustrations, 11x11″.
Mesmerizing black-and-white photographs of the world’s most majestic ancient trees.
Beth Moon’s fourteen-year quest to photograph ancient trees has taken her across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of her subjects grow in isolation, on remote mountainsides, private estates or nature preserves; others maintain a proud, though often precarious, existence in them midst of civilization. All, however, share a mysterious beauty perfected by age and the power to connect us to a sense of time and nature much greater than ourselves. Its is this beauty, and this power, that Moon captures in her remarkable photographs.
This handsome volume presents nearly seventy of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews – some more than a thousand years old-that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of thier giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood-trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.
Moon’s narrative captions describe the natural and cultural history of each individual tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collection at the New York Botanical Garden, provides a concise introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. An essay by the critic Steven Brown defines Moon’s unique place in a tradition of tree photography extending from William Fox Talbot to Sally Mann, and explores the challenges and potential of the tree as a subject for art.