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Behind the Image: Kate Breakey on Tree Stories

photo-eye Gallery Behind the Image Kate Breakey on Tree Stories Alexandra Jo While the time and meticulous effort that goes into the creation of all of Kate Breakey's work is indeed captivating, her conceptualization behind each image is just as rich. This week, photo-eye is excited to share insight into Breakey's thought process.

Sheoak by Ocean, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Hand-Colored Archival Pigment Print, 36x32" Image, 
Edition of 20, $2,030, Framed
When looking at Kate Breakey's process-based work, it's easy to get caught up with how each piece was made. While the meticulous effort that goes into the creation of Breakey's work is captivating, her conceptualization behind each image is just as rich. This week, photo-eye is excited to share Breakey's thought process behind all of the images in Tree Stories, our current exhibition of work from three different series, as well as the specific story behind Tree of Life, Mesquite, Full Moon Rising, Bahrain.

Kate Breakey, Eucalyptus Trees, Xmas Day, South Australia,
Archival Pigment ink 24k gold leaf on glass, 5 x 12 inches,
Edition of 20, $1375 Framed  
Tree Stories
I grew up in rural Australia with a lot of trees — big, old trees that I climbed and played in with my friends as a child. There was evidence that generations of children before us had been in these trees. There were carved initials and remnants of older tree houses and swing ropes. Those treetops were a fantasy world, a place where it was possible to make believe we were different creatures, where we could lie precariously on boughs, and feel them sway and groan in the wind, hear the wind in the leaves, and smell the sap. And it was familiar and comforting, a primal ancestral memory of being tree-dwellers perhaps. In trees we were invisible, but we could see everything — get a whole different perspective. My own house was strangely small from up there. We were also aware trees had stories and histories, and that the cycles of their lives — the seasons, the droughts, fires, floods, and storms — were all written in their rings. They also knew birds, bees, beetles, and earthworms, possums, and generations of people who rested or wrote poetry under them, or sketched or photographed them. As symbols of strength, endurance and wisdom in most cultures, trees have been the subjects of much art, including my own. Each tree has a story, and I have a story about each tree.

Kate Breakey, Tree of Life, Mesquite, Full Moon Rising, Bahrain, Hand-colored archival pigment print, 24 x 30 inches,
Edition of 20, $1730 Framed 

Tree of Life, Mesquite, Full Moon Rising, Bahrain.

Tree of Life is the official title of this tree. It is a 400-year-old Mesquite, with sprawling limbs, growing in the Arabian desert, near the city of Manama in Bahrain. It is on a hill on the site of a 500-year-old fort, now rubble. The tree is considered to be a miracle because no one understands what its water source is, and how it can still be alive at all. Some say, the tree is protected by the Babylonian god of water, and it is fabled to be on the site of the Garden of Eden. People bring water to pour at its base and pray. An armed guard now patrols its perimeter. I was in Bahrain with friends, and there was a full moon rising at twilight, so I suggested we go see the tree. I didn’t have a tripod, but it was lit by spotlights at its base. I waited, and the moon rose through its branches, and in that moment it was indeed miraculous.

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