Photosynthesis by Becky Cameron

by Becky Cameron

Sunlight through leaves, the energy source of life on earth.

Walking through forest, sunlight filtering down. Losing the sharp edges of self in the green dapple of a bigger world.

Sunlight falling onto the surface of cyanotype paper, creating a photogram of the leaves that block its fall, and a basis for a painting. 

Drawings and photographs taken back to the studio to transform into other light reflecting surfaces.

The starting point for these works is a six week tramp I went on at the beginning of the year. This travelled through areas of beech, podocarp- broadleaf and west coast rain forest. The bush was all-encompassing and sometimes overwhelming. It blurred time and direction travelled, and my walking time stopped corresponding neatly to clock-time, which seemed in comparison to slow or to jump forward. The concentration needed to navigate the roots and creeks occupied my chattering mind so that I became immersed in the huge breathing ecosystem. 

Visually complex and sometimes unreadable to the eye, the overlapping vegetation and scattered patches of sunlight defeats easy composition. I made drawings and watercolour sketches during the walk, and used these along with later photographs as references to work out patterns and rhythms of light and shade, seeking to portray something of the orderly chaos of the New Zealand bush. 

While walking I mused on the interconnectedness of humans with the natural world, something easier to forget in a city. A conversation with botanist Dr David Burritt of Otago University about the stress biology of plants, including the impacts of pollution and climate change, prompted the drawings incorporating the human figure with the foliage of garden food plants.