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Graham Chorlton


  • The Mayor of Talence
  • The Mayor of Bordeaux
  • Coventry University

Project duration


Project overview

Encounters addresses and explores the liminal experience of walking through the built environment, where part of that experience is observing planted trees, and wild planting, where vegetation had sprouted of its own accord, particularly in the suburban setting.

In Graham’s work, the trees act as stand-ins for people through which ideas of absence and presence are explored. This strategy of walking also echoes practices in psychogeography, and further back in time the idea of the derive carried out by the surrealists in 1920s/30s Paris (see for example Aragon’s book Paris Peasant, 1926); a strategy to discover ‘the marvellous’ in the everyday.

There are 15 paintings within the collection. Graham mostly used primary sources, taking photographs of trees in and around urban and suburban areas as a visual record. Then he embarked on a selection process, choosing the photographs based on the lighting – and the stories the lighting might tell, whilst simultaneously considering how his series of paintings might fit within a wider exhibition.

Encounters has been exhibited as part of the Human Nature, Nature Humaine Exhibition. The exhibition took place in two venues in Bordeaux, France. The first, at the Forum des Arts and de la Culture de Talence from May 2nd to 18th 2019. The second, from 19th October 2019 to 29th March 2020 at the Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux Métropole. The exhibition featured a group of 8 artists, from the Arts collective Dialogue, including Graham Chorlton; 4 based in France and 4 in the UK. The artists involved in this group exhibition were: Dr Myfanwy Johns, Joss Burke, Graham Chorlton, Tom Ranahan, Francis Viguera, Dominique Etna Corbal, Véronique Lamare and Peter Grego. 

The theme of the interaction between humans and nature was determined collaboratively by the group. The exhibition revolved around the presence of gardens, planting and plant life within human habitation. Graham created a series of paintings of small planted trees on the sides of roads from anywhere. Trees that looked as though they were struggling for existence. His series was called Encounters.

Project objectives

This work was concerned with exploring the impact and importance of planted trees (wild or intentional), and the spectator’s relationship with these passing places. The aim is that the spectator can encounter or explore their own identities’ through these liminal environments. This is a common theme in Graham’s work.

Graham’s work explores this further through capturing both mundane and striking moments of light. Seeking to investigate how we experience light through our daily lives.


Find out more information on the collective dialogue.

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