‘Down to the woods’ is the latest collection of art works
by Cotswold artist, Michelle Peters.
Woods and forests are cities for a wildlife. They provide homes and shelters for all manner of flora, fauna and fungi. They inspire, delight and restore.
These paintings are a celebration of Puzzlewood and other parts of the Forest of Dean and the magic to be found there. They depict a love of discovering British wildlife hidden in the woods from our native red squirrels to the local non-native reindeer of Pershore.
This collection has taken just under a year to complete and comprises of 8 original gouache pieces
“The Turkey tail of Squirrel Nutkin”
I first saw a red squirrel on Brownsea Island on a Brownies trip. I was smitten. Nowadays I get rare glimpses of them on our trips to the Yorkshire Dales. The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin is the second in the illustrated children’s book series by Beatrix Potter and has always been my fave. When I discovered some turkey tail fungus on a walk around the Forest of Dean, an idea began to form.
The Elaeomyxa Cerifera – the amethyst mushroom, first identified back in 1942, is like natures disco ball or galaxy world. I was mesmerised when I first saw photos of it and wondered how alluring it would be and who would stumble across it? A rather famous film starring a mouse came out in the early 40s. The theme of that film is the “infinite array of creative possibilities”. Perfect for a magic mouse.
Definition of a broad valley, Vale is also Latin greeting used at the end of a conversation or a letter. It may be translated as “farewell”, “good-bye”, “take care” or “stay strong”. Vulpecula is a faint constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “little fox”. A small cub at the Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre was the inspiration for this piece. Once rehabilitated, she will be released back into the wild. “Fare thee well little fox”.
Young cubs are brown, not orange-red, but I wanted to fill this painting with those fiery oranges that will soon be this little foxes future colours.
“Foot of the Forest”
For me, every woodland walk is full of fairy doors, nooks and crannies where the fae folk live. I see Ents (beings in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world Middle-earth who closely resemble trees). I loose myself in the carpets of emerald and lime moss, the textures and shapes of the trees and stumps, the burnt sienna of the forest floor and all the treasures to be found there.
“Watcher or watched”
Excerpt from Two poems on Puzzlewood
past a grassy space,
there lies a wooded realm where moss runs free
and in the rocks ‘n trees you’ll see the face
of ancient sprites ‘n spirits – reaching high,
the winding branch becomes a searching trunk;
the craggy rock becomes a visage, sunk
in th’sleep of ages.
This painting features one of the reindeer of Pershore. I liked the idea you cannot tell if its facing towards you or away.
The Red Bridge
The sienna reds of the earth, wood and bridges against this canopy of greens was something I wanted to explore. The paths and twists and turns in this otherworldly woodland takes you through a mile and a half of paths and the act of crossing these bridges really does feel like you are being transported in time.
This piece was a combination of two moments. The backdrop is a place in Puzzlewood. Sadly, no Cyclamens there but it felt like exactly where they should be. I was seeing them everywhere at the time.
7,000 years, following the end of the last Ice Age, nearly all of Britain was covered with forest and these would be common.
Nowadays, a few woodlands in Kent are probably the only places where the cyclamen is still a wild plant.
There is a small hut in the woods, different from the final piece, but that sparked my imagination. Who lives there? This friend of the forest who is never seen. How did they end up here and what stories do they have to tell.
It uses a slightly cooler palette than the other works in this collection to further enhance a feeling of isolation. The fir trees are a nod to a fave haunt of mine. Pershore’s Caribou cafe set in 20 acres of Christmas trees alongside a herd of roaming reindeer