These images are a sub-theme of the Working Forest project.
The old growth stumps pictured in this series have witnessed two complete Cut/Burn/Grow cycles of tree farming, and some of them will witness one or two more. I affectionately refer to these old-growth stumps as The Elders because they exude eldership qualities of presence, dignity and grace.
The notches that appear to be eyes or mouths, were chopped out with axes by loggers who fell the large timber by hand – pre 1930. The feller chopped out a notch in the tree and inserted a hardwood plank called a springboard. He stood on the springboard in order to work above the large swell at the base of the tree. This reduced the time required to chop out the undercut and saw by hand through the backcut.
As the tree stumps decompose the notches start looking like eyes or mouths and the stumps themselves become characters with a story to tell. Early in the process of making these pictures, I was wondering if I would ever use them. They seemed beautiful but without an edge to them.
And then one day after picking my way through the poison oak to have a look at the far side of a newly discovered stump, I stopped and looked up.
Two large powerful eyes looked directly at me. I was stunned into a kind of quiet, motionless submission. I held the gaze until in a mysteriously spiritual way, I was filled with the words, ‘Just make our portraits. We are enough.’