The Surrounding Nature

What you see is woodland, some mounds of sand, a patch of ground and upon this several twig-like trees attempting to stand tall, or perhaps they’ve just been popped to one side, or forgotten – as if someone in such a manmade landscape would ever forget the trees.


This mini-woodland has been deliberately assembled in this way, awaiting its new destiny. It looks like an artistic project, perhaps a literal illustration of a few lines from the famous poem ‘The Dapperstraat’ by J.C. Bloem:
“Leave nature to those empty or contented
And then: what's left of nature in this land?
A little wood, the size of a postage stamp (…)”

But whatever it might be, it most certainly is something. It is an image that unmistakably demands of something, demands something of us, an action and reaction, and more than anything else it calls for protection. Sjoerd Knibbeler, who frequently portrays nature and trees in his work, here has captured both themes in one image.
These three instable trees, which with difficulty yet boldness cluster together their spindly trunks and puny crowns, are encircled by the threat of larger, sturdier trees. They ask to be given a place, to be allowed a place and to be left to grow and flourish. Perhaps even to the point at which they outstrip the woodland behind. It’s not only an image of vulnerability, but – at the beginning of a new year – also an image of hope. We hope that these trees will grow, strengthen and sustain themselves. That’s also what we’d want to be saying to these trees and perhaps to all nature that still remains: “Keep going!”
Thus it becomes an image that speaks of the role of humans in nature: who both protect and threaten. But it also says something about the resilience of nature, which despite mans interventions, still repeatedly finds the strength to return. To start with these trees. Come on! Keep going!

Sjoerd Knibbeler