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Dancing with Trees, a new immersive exhibition

Dancing with Trees, a reflective new immersive exhibition by Nadia Nervo at The Muse gallery, London, until 13th November, exploring the restorative and health properties of trees through the photography, soundscape, scents and installations of Italian artist Nadia Nervo.

Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better. I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Towards heaven..…. From “Birches” by Robert Frost

With the trees ablaze in red, orange or yellow, autumn is here and the country is looking magnificent. A new immersive nature inspired exhibition Dancing with Trees at the Muse Gallery on Portobello Road, London until 13th November will help you switch off from the relentless autumn pressures of your NHS hospital role. As photographer Nadia Nervo explains, ‘The project ran for a year going through all the seasons and was inspired by my relationship with forests; growing up with trees, amongst the hills and mountains of my native northern Italy. It was a beautiful period during which we were able to observe the different smells, sounds and atmosphere – the sound of branches falling, the fresh scent of dewy bark and sense of freedom and energy – all inspired the exhibition.’ She continues to find solace in the natural world and hopes to share this immersive experience with viewers of her exhibition.

Whether we live in densely packed cities or rural countryside, we are part of a complex ecosystem with the nature that surround us. Trees sustain life on earth. Through Nadia’s photography of humans interacting with trees using 120mm film photography, a soundscape composed by musician and composer Suting Han and installations of natural items collected from Nervo’s travels, the exhibition will explore what we can learn from trees’ behaviour as we rethink the significance of these ancient, complex, and sensitive beings. Scents of the forest floor and pine will linger transporting the viewer from the disinfectant smells of hospital wards, and GP surgeries into another more ethereal and relaxing forest world.

It is a widely known scientific fact that interacting with trees has positive health benefits. Numerous studies show that both being in forests and simply sitting and looking at trees reduces both blood pressure and stress. Long before the advent of modern science, shamans sought spiritual awakenings and used trees for holistic purposes. Dances with trees were believed to increase vitality and spiritual awareness. In Dancing with Trees, Nervo invites the viewer to experience the magical and healing qualities of trees – using sound, scent and her series of analogue photography. Each photoshoot was supported only by natural lighting.

Through this project, Nervo is keen for others to experience the power of nature and the positive introspection that engenders. Her viewers enter into a leafy oasis and open their eyes and heart and soul, to enjoy the natural, primal world of the forest through movement, aroma and stillness.

Locations featured in the exhibition include Wimbledon Common, Esher, Highgate Woods, Hainault Forest, Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath, Richmond and Hyde Park. Contributors include Yuliya V Krylova and musician and composer Suting Han, who both created work in response to the exhibition themes, images, and movements.

Recent research from Kings College, London studying data from a wellbeing app, has revealed that seeing birds, or hearing birdsong in the woods can improve your mood for up to eight hours. The findings mean boosting urban birdlife could help those with depression said the researchers.

Dancing with Trees will encourage us to rethink the way we see trees and the birds and animals they help sustain and to become more ‘rooted’ and embrace wildness in our lives, landscapes and hearts. Don’t miss seeing it.

Dancing with Trees at The Muse Gallery, 269 Portobello Road, London W11

Free admission: Gallery opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm closed Mondays

Rebecca Wallersteiner
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