Marja-Leena Rathje
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the cave




These images were photographed near the camellias, in the same woodland garden corner of our backyard. They are traces of a huge multi-trunked maple tree (we have some giants on the west coast) that had to be cut down some 15 years ago because of rot and concern that it might come down on our house in a windstorm.

As long as we've lived here, the trunk's base has had a hollow or small 'cave' under the roots on one side where they spread upwards and over a tiny hill. Big enough for a raccoon though I've never seen evidence of a nest, it continues to intrigue and stoke my imagination. I keep checking on it as the trunk ever so very slowly rots away. I love the textures! I think this may be the first time I've actually taken photos of it for posterity though it's permanently in my mental image bank.

Marja-Leena | 20/04/2011 | 9 comments
themes: Photoworks, Textures


Such valuable real estate or wood estate would rarely go unoccupied and you may soon see its inhabitant if you're lucky.

Back here, sometimes bowls are formed by naturally portruding extensions on the trunk, and rains leave them full, soon to be home to stick insects and the like.

The wonders of nature.

I love that your photos are in black/white, and one can concentrate on the textures and shadows. Decay can be so intriguing and beautiful.

Anil, yes, it's 'valuable real or wood estate' indeed, with lots of bugs enjoying the meals, for years. Those bowls you describe sound rather beautiful. Yes, the wonders of nature, how something that decays is still feeding insects and enriching the soil in the process.

Olga, I'm glad you like the black and white. As I was playing with the images, I was not happy with the colours for parts were too dark and parts overexposed, so desaturation came to the rescue, actually giving these more character. I should try it more often. Yes, I do find decay lovely and seem to feature it often in my work.

Your pictures remind me that when I was a child - about three I must have been - there was a hollow tree on a favourite walk. I used to hide there from my parents, and the hollow tree became in some ways a symbol, something extraordinary which hangs around still at the back of my mind.

Joe, on our walk through the park today, we saw some kids doing that very thing. There are many large tempting trees with hollows in our raincoast forests - I find them quite magical, as do you.

The texture shown in b&w really does make it very intriguing and mysterious. May I borrow a copy to perhaps use as a reference for a painting?

Susan, yes, you may!

Thank you. It's nice to have some focus for drawing and painting projects although I doubt you'll recognize it once I'm through :-)

Have a very Happy Easter.

Susan, I look forward to seeing what you create! Happy Easter to you too. We've just had a glorious sunny day today, the first really warm one this spring.