Imagine… A World Without Trees

seurat without trees A UK-based scientist has removed trees from world famous works of art to highlight the threat of deforestation

In the field of climate change, we are constantly asked to imagine nightmarish scenarios. Situations where water may run dry, where mass migrations are provoked by food shortages or where extreme weather events on the rise. These are all, however, future events we have to conjure up and not our present or past. But what if you had to edit the world’s history to reflect its future? What if there were no more trees? What would our past look like? What would world famous works of art look like without trees? An Edinburgh University scientist has used photo-editing software to imagine just that.

surat without trees  Dr Iain Woodhouse has recreated famous paintings without trees and woodlands to draw attention to the threat of global deforestation and highlight the values of woods and forests. He photoshopped the trees out from Constable’s The Haywain (below), Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte (above), and Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun.

constable haywain painting constable haywain painting without trees He told the BBC: “Trees are a vital global resource, providing fuel, shelter, clean water and food for many species including people, and helping to maintain a healthy atmosphere by harvesting carbon dioxide… It is crucial that trees do not disappear from our landscapes.”

Writing on Forest Planet, Dr Woodhouse explained that the project came about as an attempt to visually represent loss. “It’s one of the themes that I’ve been working on with the artist Alice Ladenburg,” he explained. “It is relatively easy to represent the importance of something that is present, but how do you capture or express the importance of something like deforestation that is all about the absence of something? It is not easy to focus a viewer’s attention on something that is not there!”

Well, I think he did a pretty good job of presenting loss. The Van Gogh piece is a particularly stark reminder of what we have to lose. vincent van gogh without trees

vincent van gogh without trees painting

For more arts and culture with an environmental slant see:
‘Rain’ and Qatari Folktales of Nature
‘Wadjda’ – A Saudi Girl & Her Green Bike
‘Solar Mama’ – A Film About Jordan’s Solar Women
Film Review: The Blessed Tree – An Interfaith Meeting Under The Shade of Nature

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