Emanuel Cederqvist & Sean Gardiner
07/10/2022 - 09/10/2022
Paler Ash traces the changing fate of the ash tree following the onset of ash dieback, a fungal disease originating from Asia which is currently spreading throughout Europe, posing a serious threat to the species future.
The European ash is a deciduous tree native across much of the continent. It is common, culturally rich and ecologically important. While it is unknown how much dieback will affect the population as a whole – estimates vary from tentatively hopeful to devastatingly total – its impact will undoubtedly be catastrophic for both the species and the spaces it inhabits.
The photographs centre around Öland, Sweden (where the disease is well established and obvious) and Dorset, England (where it was then only starting to make itself apparent). These locations – a relative east and west of the geographic range of the tree – function as vague mirrors, each reflecting a different tense which ultimately comes to haunt the other, whether as approximate past or impending future. Combined, they become a means of visualising the way that meaning slips from place, as well as considering the shape that its disappearance might take.
Although the origins of dieback remain ambiguous at present – its spread the result of a combination of things, some arguably natural, others probably avoidable, rather than a single, easily blameable cause – it is difficult not to see its onset as characteristic of the time we are living through. The work is intended as both document and elegy, simultaneously paying testament to the presence of the tree while hinting at the tangible absence of its loss.