This is the first of a series of articles I wrote for the OneSmile Magazine…
I was totally captivated when I saw these images from UK based artist Rob Mulholland. The mirrored figures seem liquefied in their forest surroundings, there and not there, like a ripple in ‘the force’ or ghosts of past inhabitants. It turns out that is indeed what they represent.
I love the way we see the forest that’s behind us reflected in the figures, challenging our sense of reality.
Rob reminds us that before the First World War this area of Scotland was open hillside with small sheep farming Crofts and rural communities. The crofters were moved to other land by the government as there was a desperate need for timber after the war. The area was planted with fast growing conifer trees suitable for harvesting softwood and the landscape altered once again. One can still see the faint outlines of the crofts and past settlements within the forest. This intrigued Rob and he wanted to find a visual form that would represent the past inhabitants of this land.
Rob says, “The male and female figures represent a vestige, a faint trace of the past people and communities that once occupied and lived in this space. The figures absorb their environment, reflecting on their surface the daily changes of life in the forest. They create a visual notion of non–space, a void, as if they are at one moment part of our world and then, as they fade into the forest, they become an intangible outline.”
“The human desire to leave a trace of ones-self for future generations has always intrigued me; it is a driving force to create and leave a semblance of ourselves as individuals and society. The reflective figures ask us to look again and consider the symbiotic relationship we have with our natural and man-made environment.”
The essence of who we are as individuals in relation to others and our environment, forms a strong aspect of Rob’s artistic practise. In this series that he calls ‘Vestige’, Rob says he wanted to explore this relationship further by creating a group; a community within the protective elements of the woods, reflecting the past inhabitants of the space.
He’s certainly succeeded and has created a thought-provoking and truly beautiful way to acknowledge the people of the past in the present. If you’ve ever had the delight and privilege of traveling though Scotland, you may have experienced, as I have, this presence in many a glen, loch and mountain.