Learning how to see / by Amardeep Kaur Shergill

In a general sense, art for me is a constant way to ‘learn'.

I recently saw work of Elizabeth Cross at the Drill Hall ANU here in Canberra. Her magnificent tree drawings captured my interest in looking at trees more closely. I have always loved to photograph different trees but Cross’s work showed me something about capturing ‘essence’ or ‘energy’ in a different way.

A week after seeing the exhibition, I found myself being intrigued by the most amazing trees in a park in central Perth. I observed these trees and began to photograph them. There was great detail in the big tree trunks and the leaves. The textures and colours were very unique as well.

Two weeks after this experience I was asked to volunteer for a workshop that Elizabeth Cross was running for Drill Hall. This opportunity came about quite by a chance. The workshop took place at the National Arboretum’s Himalayan Cedar Forest. This workshop lead me to have invaluable insight into the artist’s approach to drawing.

More than anything I learned to deeply appreciate the experience of learning how to look and see from others. When I look back the photos of the trees in Perth, I can see so clearly the role that Cross’s work had played in teaching me how to ‘look’. The way I had composed each shot and the details I had focused on were all influenced by the way I had perceived Elizabeth Cross’s drawings.