Take To The Trees

The current exhibition at neo:gallery in Bolton is a two-woman show called Take to the Trees. (Not Talk to the Trees, which would have been about the Prince of Wales, I assume.) Margaret Jackson’s work is mainly encaustic paintings while Julie Levy has produced installations and assemblages.

Sometimes when I go to solo exhibitions, the works are virtually the same with only minor variations. What is striking about Margaret’s work is the variety within the wood/tree theme. Some are of trees, some piles of logs, or cut timber, some scenes inside a saw-mill, some of protest camps high up in the trees.

Most of the pieces are encaustic, which I’d always thought involved melting the pigment bearing wax and applying it while it is hot, the wax solidifying on cooling. Margaret explained that she found this messy so uses a paste containing the wax but with turps and linseed oil added, applying it with a palette knife. This means that the turps needs to evaporate and the linseed oil needs to dry by oxidation, like oil paints. She then heats up the wax again at the end with a hot air gun when everything is dry to give a smooth surface.

As I love Margaret’s work, I’m going to show a few instead of trying to choose!



Trees02Detail from Larch

Trees03Saw Doctors.

(Margaret lists this as ‘mixed media’ but I think it’s mainly a charcoal drawing.)


Trees05Detail from Woodstack

Trees06My favourite ‘Woodhenge’

Trees07Scott’s Sawmill

This is such a traditional drawing – yet so powerful!

Julie’s installations and assemblages have a very personal connection with her life history. Trees and wood feature frequently in her work with the branches giving a literal representation of her family tree. The Bench for example is her family’s bench while the photographs hanging from the branches are of herself and members of her family sitting on the bench.



The Bench

The photograph of this work also shows The Bird Table on the left hand side. I felt you really needed to know the family details before you could appreciate Julie’s assemblages. For example, I hadn’t realised that the photographs were of people sitting on the bench until Margaret had explained this. Two pieces though I liked immediately without needing any explanation and they were Weeping Cherry, made with coloured embroidery threads, and The Story, made with sticks with text on them.

Trees09Weeping Cherry

Trees10The Story

I left Margaret in the gallery browsing through some old record books/diaries she has for her allotment as she is thinking of doing her next project about allotments. One couple she knows has wallpapered the inside of their shed! There has to be material there for an artist!


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
This entry was posted in Art, Art Gallery, Artists, exhibition, Installation, Painting and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Take To The Trees

  1. Very nice indeed ! I just love trees! They are very talented!

  2. Nancy Farmer says:

    Very interesting. The problem I have with encaustic wax is it’s that stuff I remember that first appeared at craft shows where people demonstrated how to make ‘trick’ pictures, but I am probably behind the times here. What happens if you accidentally leave an encaustic painting out in the sun, though, does it melt and run? I like the wood paintings very much indeed, especially the very first one ‘larch’, and I wonder if it would look the same in ‘normal’ oil paint?

    • According to Margaret, when I asked her about her final hot air gun treatment, once the linseed has dried there is very little movement. Looking close (hence the ‘detail’ shots) I don’t know if you could get the textures with oils.

  3. Y. Prior says:

    Thank you for this review and nice post with some of her work- and also thanks for sharing about Margaret’s work and her encaustic process. 🙂 ~y.

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