Little Maps of Trees

An artist's book of eco prints of leaves on paper.

 

The book, during 2019, is touring, as part of The Tiny Sketchbook Project, to New York, Miami, London and Paris.  After the tour it will be archived, available for viewing, along with several others I've created over the past few years, in the Brooklyn Art Library, New York.

 

I filled my tiny sketchbook with eco prints of leaves gathered last autumn from my garden. I froze some of them, others I laid between sheets of paper in layers in a wicker-sided box.

 

The process involved taking the tiny sketchbook apart, making a leaf 'sandwich' of the blank pages, then placing the sandwich between two tiles. I bound the sandwich tightly together with rubber bands, then pressure cooked it for an hour. Afterwards, I undid it when cool, separated the pages then removed the plant matter to reveal the prints of the leaves. I left them all to dry, ironed them flat, then put the tiny sketchbook back together using lavender-coloured embroidery silk dyed naturally in 2018 using wisteria cuttings (stems and leaves).   

I called the book 'Little Maps of Trees' as each leaf is characteristic of its host tree: its shape, colour, chemistry, markings - whether natural to its growth, or made by damage or disease -  makes each and every leaf, however tiny it may be, completely individual. There are no two leaves alike. The differing chemical and other constituents of leaves mean they give up different colours from each other when subjected to pressure and heat. And a leaf of one colour, when put under pressure may well give up an entirely different colour in the printing process. For instance, St John's Wort is green to look at, but will print yellow. It depends. It's complicated and deliciously unpredictable!

Just as there are no two leaves alike, there are no two people alike; under pressure, one individual will react differently to another. So the leaf is also a metaphor. My 'Little Maps of Trees' can also stand for 'Little Maps of People'. A tree cannot stay healthy without its specific, individual leaves; society cannot stay healthy without its specific, individual people.


If you travel to New York, pop into the Brooklyn Art Library and check this book out.  And be inspired by all the other artist books archived there.