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A bizarre mystical experience with a Silver Birch in the Freeman hospital led me to create maps of birch trees near where I lived. I searched them out and discovered they were a symbol of rebirth and renewal. But it was the “dead trees” that really caught my attention. Far from dead, they are full of life, of ivy, of birds, of insects and were standing there, gesticulating, telling me something I couldn’t quite make out, but something very important.

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I really struggled with heightened sensations and significance. Everything was connected to everything else. At times I would realise I had lost an hour just staring at a tree. This is a common side effect apparently, along with a massive ramp in appetite, becoming more hirsuit and acne. Steroids have saved my life but altered me beyond all recognition.

It seemed to me that there was a spirit world, that I didn’t really believe in, but knew was there. This world was only accessible through a wood or forest. The creatures I glimpsed in the corner of my dreams were part tree, part flesh, part bone, part soil, and I started creating montages of these “Beasts”, montaged from medical books and photocopies of trees I would visit. I would also see them manifest themselves in the mud that collected on my car, and see the veins of pumping blood in videos I took of hedgerows. They are ancient and exist partly in our world, partly in other dimensions.

I felt like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense, but with dead trees that weren’t, before he got the twist at the end, and with more hair.

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