This series was primarily shot in the summer and heat of 2021. The grass was brown and the threat of fire was prevalent due to the heat dome of early June. Birds sang, voles ran ruckus & deer ate majestically around us. Us, being my husband Oliver & myself. From spring 2021 to spring 2022, I had the privilege of spending time upon the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve. Oliver conducting site specific research for his doctorate, me, spending time observing, photographing & breathing in the beauty of this stunning, ‘private office’.
A marked patch of land was mapped out to precision, identifying 120 individual squares & 480 sub divided squares - split plot 480! A ploughed patch of land was identified & metal fencing was assembled. Walk ways were constructed and marked by string and wooden sticks. This was to allow for easy access for counting & watering. Days were spent establishing the site, before precise seed sowing commenced & watering began. Whilst the entire preserve turned to a brittle brown, the plot continued to run in extreme heat. Lush green foliage and vibrant pink flowers emerged mid July which bought this site to life. Months of measuring, weeding & watering continued. September bought with it data collection. Gathering plant material in brown paper bags, writing numbers on clipboards & packaging up samples to be taken to the lab.
Split | Observations quietly observes the day to day grind of running a solo, ‘in the elements’ body of physical research. Immersed upon Garry Oak trees, this series was shot entirely on 35mm black and white film. The photographs not only speak to the constant change within a landscape but the quietness & amount of time consumed in running an inquiry into processes regulating plant species co-existence. The surrounding landscape of Mount Prevost & Lake Quamichan add a sense of serenity to this otherwise, at times, chaotic experiment. The sound of squawking bald eagles & watchful deer reminding us that we were very much visitors to this landscape.
This body of work is photographed on the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, Maple Bay, British Columbia. I feel privileged to have been able to join my husband on this land, which is not open to the public, but owned by the Nature Conservatory of Canada. I’d also like to thank Oliver for letting me document his body of research in such depth & vulnerability. Being able to spend time amongst the quercus garryana, an ecological-system with only 5% remaining on Vancouver Island, was truly special.
All images & content copyright Hannah V. Carroll.