Arboretum The Art of Trees; the Arborealists and other Artists. An overview by Michael Toseland.

It is interesting how something of such colour, such vibrancy and variation leads us to nine times out of ten favour the monochromatic.

This is highlighted in the beautifully delicate drawings of Celia de Serra. Up rooted trees are avast with texture so much so that any colour would detract from the sheer beauty of it.
This is a show of details and the finite and this is where we find the sublime beauty of nature, in its complexity it offers more that we can see at a glance. Layer upon layer not to speak of the microbial that offer even more astounding complexity.

This is a narration of trees but more our relationship with them, the strange things we see in their form, our fear of the dark forest of unknowable monsters to our saviour on a rainy day when we forget our umbrella.

The complete subjectivity, elegance and sublime nature of these wonderous natural works of art. 

February 2015. Excerpt.


Bristol celebrates the art of the tree.    Saturday Telegraph by Florence Waters.

To kick off Bristol’s year as the European Green Capital the city’s oldest gallery, the RWA, has been transformed into a colourful arboretum for an exhibition by a newly formed group of artists. Rows of trees in works by a group of 30 British painters, printmakers and sculptors line the bright Victorian rooms at the Royal West of England Academy.
Despite stylistic differences, they, like most British landscapists from John Constable to David Hockney, love trees and return to the subject again and again. Thus they’ve given themselves the tongue-in-cheek name the Arborealists.
Some artists have sought a similar effect at Arboretum. There are vibrant plein air works filled with life and optimism, such as Greenish Deep, in which Fiona McIntyre’s gnarled willows break through the picture frame and bounce off reflecting water. But since the show follows the recent alarm over the spread of ash dieback and other tree diseases, Arboretum is, overall, a melancholy contemplation of the state of man’s current relationship with trees.

                          Domino, Pencil on Strathmore. 2014

                         Domino,Pencil on Strathmore. 2014

A pencil drawing by Celia de Serra of a felled oak, slumped like a great beast on a woodland carpet, strikes an even more melancholy chord, poignantly titled Domino.

January 2015  Excerpt.


What to Buy.  The Week.

"David Hockney may be the painter everybody's talking about, but he's just one of many artists in Britain engaged in rejuvenating landscape painting. Celia de Serra is another. 'Beaten Track', her painting of woods encroaching on an Iron Age fort in Shropshire, is a case in point. It may not be revolutionary in it's subject matter, but the angle at which it's tilted - reminiscent of a snapshot from a hand held camera - gives it a distinctly modern feel. There are no human beings in sight, but we do see some human footprints, leading the viewer round a corner at what feels like speed. The action of sunlight on the trees makes them seem to vibrate, and the path writhes - all adding to the sense of propulsion and a slight feeling of unease. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," wrote Robert Frost: few tell of their mystery better than de Serra."                                                                         

March 2012