Skip to content

Using her camera, Grete Hjorth-Johansen explores the pained expressions that emerge once the old, pollarded trees of Epping Forest are lit and isolated.

Pollarding – the repeated cutting and regrowing of the branches – is what has caused the trees to gain these sculptural, contorted shapes.

Pollarding helps prolong the life and health of the trees, and is an important part of ongoing forest management, but the result can look quite brutal.

These trees made her think of Tartarus, the place of torture in the Greek underworld where the inhabitants were often forced to endlessly repeat futile tasks.

Each tree represents a deity with a connection to Tartarus.

Beauty, suffering, myth and local history all come together in the series to reveal the balance between nature and humans' need for timber.

Grete Hjorth-Johansen is a Norwegian fine art photographer who lives and works in East London.

This exhibition is kindly sponsored by The Epping Forest Forum.