Western Red Cedar and Spruce Sapling by Amory Abbott

This month Little Toller publishes Paul Kingsnorth’s new book, Savage Gods. For this series on The Clearing Paul invited poets, writers and artists from around the world to respond in their own way to a simple, one-word theme: transformation. The result is a series of explorations, in words and images, of the alchemical cycle of change: breakdown, rebirth and renewal. This is by the artist Amory Abbott.





Western Red Cedar and Spruce Sapling is inspired by the effects and necessity of lightning strikes to renew and revitalize forests. Wildfires are often demonized as horrific natural disasters, accepted as “acts of God,” or manifestations of the recklessness of humans, when convenient, however, lightning strikes have been burning down swathes of land since time immemorial, and remain a quintessential “wild card” we have no means of predicting, or controlling. We are just now beginning to see the consequences of a century of fire suppression in our remaining wild places, which have become increasingly-arid, man-made tinder boxes. The ghostly, glowing elements in my work suggest that the beauty of what there is to lose and the beauty of what comes after are inseparable in the present moment – a coniferous memento-mori if you will –  a reminder that grief forever holds the hand of hope.

Amory Abbott




Amory Abbott is an artist and art professor living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia.  By visualizing darkness and cataclysm in landscapes on the brink of transformation, he explores the conceptual commonalities between charcoal, fire ecology, and storytelling, searching the ashen twilight for new meaning in a grief-struck world.

amoryabbott.com  |   @amoryabbott

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