An exhibition celebrating life in the Deadwood




The Deadwood exhibition observes the beauty, artistry and inspiration present in bare, dead and dying trees. Rich with life. Homes for wildlife. Food for the forest. They are essential to biodiversity, the health of the earth and animal habitats, providing safety, security and comfort. Never really dead they are becoming something else. Over the centuries, fairy tales, beasts and mythical creatures have been born of the dying forest. They fertilise our imaginations. Our valley is full of the bleached bones of these towering sentinels.


Image of limited edition print, Ghosts
Image of Limited Edition print, Eagle Moon
Image of Limited Edition Print, Boa


These old bones that litter our landscapes or stand tall upon our horizons. Bleached and grasping figures that return nutrients to the soil and provide chambers for our wildlife to hide and nest within. Hunting perches for birds of prey. Homes to owls and bats who nurse their young within their hollows. Harbouring seedlings, spawning fungi, sheltering mammals and storing food. Dead trees support more ecosystems dead than alive.

Birds, mammals, insects & reptiles feeding, breeding and sheltering within their embrace. Decayed heartwood and hard sapwood provide the perfect combination of comfort and protection. The biological diversity of our flora and fauna depend upon these decaying bodies to survive.


Just as they nourish our physical existence, they offer as much to our imaginations. The adult, leaving most childhood fancies behind, finds escape and sanctuary in nature. Forests feature in our childhood psyche as places of magic.

In the stories that reared us, dead trees offer powerful symbolism, their gnarled twisted forms providing ghostly forest playgrounds.

We anthropomorphise their shapes as they bend, stoop and reach. Malevolence in their pointed limbs. Faces, fingers and arms, reaching and grasping. A figure with twisted human features. We fashion magical objects from their branches. Staffs and wands capable of changing the fate of those destined to wield it.

Hero’s in myths and legends must pass through the forest to complete their mission. Meeting mythical creatures, good and bad along the way. Dead trees are cast as magical abodes, lurking lairs, and haunted beings. Not only do witches, trolls, fairies and elves hide in the forest, the trees themselves are animated and able to help or hinder.

They are light and dark. Shadow, silence, sun and moon. They are cold, damp, wicked places or warm and secure. Poisonous and sustaining. They are all these things, often at once.

They cradle us in safety, drawing us deep within their hollows and sheltering us from danger. A place of transformation, of working with the shadows.

A forest is always enchanted. Even in our waking life these spaces perform magic. As we seek recovery and escape in nature retreats and forest bathing.

Stands of dead trees go by uninspired nomenclature. Majestic silver beasts called ‘Snags’, and demand a more prestigious title. Incorrectly called ‘Stags’, their shape conjures the stately antlers of the deer and the name ornaments them better.

I aim this exhibition at celebrating these crowning majestic landmarks and to remind us of the value they bring to our lives on our habitat and whimsy. To inspire and remind people to spend time with nature, to rejoice in it, and to understand its function in our environment.

Take a walk in the forest…

Emma Coombes

Image of Emma Coombes the artist in front of Limited edition print Sprite at 2023 Deadwood exhibition
Framed prints on display at the Huon Valley Hub for the 2023 Deadwood exhibition
Deadwood exhibition by Elm & the Raven artist Emma Coombes on location in the Huon Valley Artbox
Deadwood exhibition by Elm & the Raven artist Emma Coombes on location in the Huon Valley Artbox
Framed image of limited edition print, Three Little Birds
Elm & the Raven Logo, white with font
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