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The 2023 Deadwood Exhibition

An Exhibition Celebrating Life in the Deadwood

May 3 - June 4 2023

Huon Valley Artbox & the Hub Gallery,

Huon Valley Tasmania

The Deadwood Exhibition - The Elm & the Raven

The inherent beauty of bare trees

Journey into the haunting beauty of “Deadwood,” my evocative 2023 solo exhibition to celebrate the allure, artistry, and inspiration found amongst these stark and silent sentinels of the forest.

The ‘Deadwood’ exhibition’ explores the world created by bare, dead, and dying trees. These weathered giants, once vibrant and alive, either sleeping or perished, stand as majestic relics, rich with life and history.

More than remnants of the past past these forms are vital components of biodiversity, providing sanctuary for wildlife, sustenance for the forest, and nourishment for our imaginations.

Connecting to the ancients

A reverential portrayal of the deadwood. As towering guardians, grasping animated forms, reaching tendrils that snake towards the viewer. In this collection I capture the intricate textures, the graceful curves, and the eternal stories etched into their form.

Bare trees, seemingly lifeless, pulse with a quiet resilience, transforming into something new with each passing season.

But  the “Deadwood” exhibition is more than an observation of nature’s cycle; it’s an invitation to delve into the realms of myth and imagination that these ancient trees inspire.

Fuelling the imagination

Over the centuries, fairy tales, mythical creatures, and legends have emerged from the depths of the dying forest, leaving an indelible mark on our collective consciousness.

The exhibition celebrates this rich tapestry of folklore and fantasy, inviting you to explore the hidden depths of the forest and discover the magic that lies within.

Enter the “Deadwood,” where beauty meets resilience, and where the echoes of the past whisper tales and share their secrets.

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

Behind the Exhibition

Lke 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. Likewise serving as 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. While 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.


As they nourish our physical existence, indeed they offer as much to our imaginations. Adults, leaving most of our childhood fancies behind, find 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. Imagined 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 of myth and legend must pass through the forest to complete their mission, meeting with mythical creatures, good and bad. Dead trees as magical abodes, lurking lairs, and haunted beings. Not only do witches, trolls, fairies and elves hide in the forest, the trees themselves come to life, able to help or hinder.


Bare branches are light and dark, harbouring shadow, silence, sun and moon. Cold, damp, wicked places or warm and secure. Poisonous and sustaining, providing all of these things, often at once.

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

Furthermore, a forest is always enchanted. Even in our waking life these spaces perform magic. We seek recovery and escape in nature retreats and forest bathing.


Strangly, stands of dead trees go by uninspired nomenclature. How we label these majestic silver beasts ‘Snags’, of no more consquence than an insignificant tug. They demand a more prestigious title. Often incorrectly called ‘Stags’, understandingly, their shapes conjure the stately antlers of the deer. Surely this name ornaments them better?

And so, I aim the Deadwood exhibition at celebrating these crowning majestic landmarks and to remind us of the value they bring to our lives, on our habitat and imaginings.

Lastly, to inspire and remind people to spend time with nature, to rejoice in it, and to understand its function in our environment.

So why not take a walk in the forest..?

Emma Coombes

An Interview with the Artist

In this interview the artist talks about her work. The inspiration behind the exhibition and how it all started.

With Thanks

The Elm & the Raven would like to thank Huon Valley Council without whom this exhibition would have not been possible.

Deadwood Exhibition by Emma Coombes of the Elm and the Raven. Held in the Huon Valley Tasmania celebrating the mystery and majesty of dead trees
Elm & the Raven Logo, white with font
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