Cape Town artist Michael Amery shares his concerns about human impact on the environment in his series of drawings, Trees by Man. In charcoal, pen and India ink, the artist depicts forests grown for commercial use, much like the ones found in his native South Africa. A graphic designer with a background in advertising, Amery is interested in how consumerist culture is tied to man’s exploitation of the natural world and its effects on our planet’s vulnerable ecosystems.
The trees in Amery’s drawings are alien to his country – namely, pine and blue gum (or eucalyptus), brought to South Africa in the 19th century to be grown as commercial crops for the timber and fuel industries. While they have been credited with boosting local economies, they are now officially considered an invasive species, due to their high water consumption and destruction of indigenous plant life.
Unlike natural forests, the environments within these works are tightly controlled – life itself appears to be contained within the strict, geometric lines and grid-like patterns of Amery’s paper canvas. Nearly identical, slender trees are methodically arranged into neatly defined rows that seem to stretch on for eternity. And while the presence of these trees is undoubtedly a product of man, in Amery’s drawings they stand alone, lending an eerie tone to the overall series.
A video from Amery’s website shows his process for creating one of his drawings: