Visual artist’s work has the trees watching humans

A photographic exhibition which focuses on ‘eyes’ found in trees has gone on display out among the trees in Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

Visual artist Gary Dawes has created a series of works entitled LOOKER – Watchers of the Forest, which aims to raise awareness to the threats faced by trees, woodlands and forests around the world – the first exhibition of its kind to be displayed on the Major Oak trail at the reserve.

LOOKER is part of a land-art project – ‘Outsider’ – which Gary started in 2017, with the idea of exhibiting his photographs out in a natural setting, and away from traditional indoor gallery spaces.

Gary explained: “Forests stir the primordial imagination and serve as a setting in countless myth and folklore tales.

“Arboreal forms, colours and textures have a beauty in their own right. I feel a deep affinity with the natural world, and that’s something I try to express in my work.

“That said I have no interest in political statements, visual or otherwise. Art and nature transcend politics for me.”


Gary, who is self-taught, added: “My photographs reflect my own personal view on the demise and destruction of our tree’s which focuses on the eye formations beautifully created by the trees themselves, which ironically mirrors the very problem – humankind.”

Having relocated to Nottinghamshire almost a decade ago, Gary also hopes his exhibition will pave the way for other creatives across the region, explaining: “By fusing together art and nature here in Sherwood Forest, I hope to open up more opportunities which may help other independent artists like myself because I know how hard it can be to find spaces to get your work exhibited and seen by new audiences.”

Jess Dumoulin, Visitor Experience Manager at Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, said: “Much of our conservation work at Sherwood is dedicated to the protection of our magnificent ancient oak trees which have survived here for hundreds of years.

“They really have seen many things during those centuries, so Gary’s work provides a thought-provoking perspective, turning the tables on us as viewers or admirers of the trees to highlight a very topical issue for the natural world.”

Gary’s exhibition can be seen be visitors until November.

You can find out more about his work on his website.

For more details about events at Sherwood Forest and Budby South Forest this summer, visit our Events page.