welcome to the fairytale forest
Join me for a walk among ancient mulberry trees and discover buddhas, fairies, wise priestesses, scarefaces with an angel heart, jokers and all sorts of mysterious figures .
The trees look at you, and you look into a mirror.
How do you feel when you see your own force reflected in a trunk? Or your sadness, in a dangling branch ?
Trees tend to live longer than we do, they have seen and heard it all, and yet they keep on renewing themselves, opening up, giving.
They go through the seasons all in their own way. They flourish, they offer us fruit and oxygen and shade, they drop their leaves and thus fertilize the earth that covers the seeds until springtime.
Which image stays with you ?
Do you think it is beautiful ? Or ugly maybe ? And does that really matter ?
The mirror of a tree reflects all that we have inside us, and there is no need for judgment when it comes to that. It is what it is.
Fascinating images invite you to sense your own excitement, mysterious portraits bring up to the riddles in you. Playful images make you feel light-hearted.
What is it you see ? What do you feel ?
You can share it through the guest book if you like.
And if you're coming to see a Tree views - Arbres démasqués exhibition in person, you can actually write or draw it in the guest book awaiting you there.
be strong, be tender
Trees, stones, plants, flowers, vegetables and all other aspects of nature willingly show us what we allow ourselves to see. Is it the scenery around us or the world inside us that we see reflected?
There is infinite beauty in nature, and there are myriad discoveries to make if we venture to look into its mirrors.
The images and their accompanying titles and texts serve as an invitation to go within, see all that may be terrifying and/or beautiful within oneself as it is reflected in nature, to embrace so-called contradictions and be at peace and in oneness. A mix of nature, wit and wisdom.
Vincent van Gogh said: '“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
Hermann Hesse wrote:
'Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought. I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labour is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts. Trees have long thoughts, long breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.'
© Herman Hesse.
From Wandering by Herman Hesse. Published by Picador. 1972.
Marion Oprel (1962, Delft, NL) studied in Antwerp and spent 25 years interpreting for the European institutions.
In 2010 health reasons prompted her to move with her family to the region of Montpellier in the South of France.
In the course of her walks with the dogs she grew more familiar with the ancient mulberry trees along the path .
'The villagers say that these trees were planted at the time of Louis XIV, say more than 300 years ago. I do not know if that is so, but in any case, they are impressive.
I started taking pictures of special pieces of bark that resembled animals.
Then one day I was shocked to see a farmer dragging the trunk which I had photographed the day before behind his tractor along the path. He had just eradicated it like that.
My heart missed a beat. And I sensed a strong bond with these magnificent creatures that stay upright longer than we do and that hold up a mirror of growth, blossoming, giving, letting go and passing over.
I literally discovered that mirror too, by the way. I had just taken a picture of a trunk in my garden, fiddled around with the settings on my device and all of a sudden I saw an owl !
The owl was succeeded by a whole range of other mystical figures, of whom you will see a number of portraits here and at any of my exhibitions.
In 2017, my family and I moved to Jávea south of Valencia in Spain. There are less mulberry trees in this region, but there are plenty of olives trees with remarkable expressions, you can find them on my FB page.
I have dedicated a song to my dear mulberry trees. It is called 'Mulberry Mine' and you can find it on iTunes as sung and put to music by the Belgian duo Billy & Bloomfish (Pascale Michiels and Kathleen Vandenhoudt).
All pictures © Marion Oprel, taken on my walks along mulberry trees (with a 19th and 20th century history of silk production), olive trees and vines, with some images of flowers, plants, stones and vegetables from my own garden thrown in.