Adrian Houston’s ‘The Spirit of Nature’ at Informality Gallery

The River & Rowing Museum and the Informality gallery in conjunction with the initiative Action Oak, are delighted to announce a new exhibition of works by renowned British photographer, Adrian Houston at the gallery in Market Place until 5 August.

Entitled ‘The Spirit of Nature’, the retrospective will focus on Adrian’s most recent landscape photography which saw him capture the ethereal beauty of Henley’s bluebell woods. A percentage of each sale will be donated to the River & Rowing Museum and Action Oak, which is seeking to develop a coordinated plan to identify and tackle issues threatening our native oak trees.

Houston has a long-standing passion for trees, as witnessed by his on-going project, A Portrait of a Tree which seeks to both raise awareness about the need to preserve and protect trees from disease and human impact and illustrate how trees connect us all on a universal level. Four years in the making, the initiative has seen Adrian shoot the favourite trees of a diverse array of people, among them Sir Richard Branson, actress Goldie Hawn, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Kew Gardens Head of Arboretum Tony Kirkham. Not only is the magnificence and atmosphere of each specimen captured for posterity, the personal story that accompanies each tree makes the final result even more impactful.

As Adrian reveals, his understanding of trees has been deepened still further through The Spirit of Nature. “By the middle of May, England’s woodlands are a joy to behold. The contrast of their fresh green leaves against carpets of vibrant bluebells gives us a sense of wonder.

“Walking through a wood at any time of the day gives us a sense of peace. Having time to reconnect with nature is, after all, something every one of us needs. Quite simply it’s part of our soul. The way trees use a network of fungi beneath our feet to communicate with one another is part of a complex world we have only recently begun to discover. How to help our fellow species through times of challenge, risk, stress and illness is a lesson from which we can all learn.”

Throughout this series of photographs, we witness Adrian’s engagement with nature and his reaction to the environment around him. “Capturing the tranquil atmosphere of the woods as dawn broke and rays of golden sunlight filtering through the early morning mist, was a spiritual moment for me,” he says. “This connection we have with our natural world inspires the creative forces that lie in us all.”

Dr Sarah Posey, Director of the River & Rowing Museum, explains how Adrian’s dedication to tree conservation makes this the perfect partnership. “With the importance we place on promoting the protection of our natural environment, Adrian’s project couldn’t be closer to our heart. We’re therefore thrilled and very grateful that Adrian and Informality have so generously agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds of each sale to our cause. So many of us have found solace in nature during the lockdown. Adrian’s beautiful images of the bluebell woods near Henley will resonate with many residents.”

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