Wood grows in layers around the trunk, limbs and roots of a tree on the inside of the bark. These manifest themselves as concentric rings which are light in colour during the spring becoming darker during the summer. This is because the rate of growth in the spring gradually slows down as the summer progresses. These rings are often referred to as the growth rings from which the tree can be aged by counting them when a cut is made horizontally through the trunk. Most of the wood in trees is comprised of dead cells which serve to support the tree around which is a thin layer of living cells which produce wood as they grow. This is known as the cambium which is protected by the bark on the outside of the trunk. It is the cells that form the wood grain which is different with each species of tree. Even individual trees of the same species are not identical, with the grain reflecting each trees growth history.
When wood is cut its surface has a pattern that varies depending on the angle that it is cut at, and the aesthetic appeal that this can produce is best displayed on antique furniture. It can also be seen, although unintentionally and less elaborately, on unpainted wooden fences such as those that have been built on Tottenham Marshes, the source of all but one of the pictures in this section. Over time these fences have grown visually more exciting through weathering and the growth of lichens and green algae, as if nature is claiming back what was once its own. Most of the fence panels are are only about 10cms wide and when I focussed on them with a macro lens I excluded the edge of the wooden panel reducing the width to about 9cms. When the images had been processed in the computer they were printed about a metere long, opening up a new world in which the invisible becomes visible.
Things that could not be perceived with the naked eye form an important part of the structure of the composition, as does the sunlight and shadow across some of the pictures. This play of light has long been a source of inspiration for my photographic work and the shadows in some of the pictures in this section are of twigs and small branches, which at times can look like a trunk and large branches, an echo of where the wood for the fence originated. All of the fence pictures, with the exception of Oxford Fence, were photographed on Tottenham Marshes during 2015. Many of the fences are erected untreated with a preservative, particularly in nature parks and reserves, because the preservatives often contain chemicals that are harmful to wildlife. This means that nature can reclaim them, as over time the weathering of the wood creates an environment where lichens and algae can grow evolving visually interesting mini-environments. Because most of the fence panels on Tottenham marshes are never wider than about 10cms, the area photographed will be no more that 9 x 13.5 cms and when they are enlarged 100 times magnification they become even more visually fascinating revealing things that were invisible to the naked eye at their actual size. When looking at some of these panels with our normal eyesight they can often looks smooth, but when they are enlarged to the degee that these pictures have been, they reveal a strongly textured quality. The wood grain in tree becomes much more apparent, with the aging rings creating very interesting patterns, of which the best example is Pattern of Years, so called because the lines are a result of one year’s growth of the tree from which they came. On the right hand side of this picture the lines converge from the centre towards a circle, almost as if they have been drawn in perspective.