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Epha Roe: Photosymbiosis

11 August 20223 September 2022

This exhibition brings together, for the first time, four years’ worth of experimentation produced as part of Epha’s PhD project, ‘Photosymbiosis: Towards a Method of Photographic Collaboration with England’s Heritage Oak Trees’. 


The oak trees for this project were chosen from a list of ‘Great British Trees’, a project by The Tree Council in 2002, made to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Because of this, each tree is subsumed in human culture, each one having their own linkages to a story, event, or person that has elevated it to a certain cultural status. In the last five years, scientific research situates trees within their own forms of community: awareness of their ability to communicate not just with themselves but also different species across their interconnected root and mycorrhizal systems has begun to weave itself into the mainstream. Epha’s interest in this stems largely from how this new information situates the concept of heritage trees, forms of natural heritage that largely operate as cultural products. 

To tackle this question, Epha’s practice-based research looks at how photography can function as a form of collaboration between Epha and the trees in their study, bringing together human history and organic functionality as a form of balance, but also as a means to subvert anthropomorphic tendencies towards the natural world. 

Currently, the practice is split into three projects: Arboreal Encounters, a selection of cyanotype portraits of each tree dyed with oak tannin extracted from local trees in Herefordshire; Organic Impressions, a series of abstract images made using soil taken from the tree’s location to explore the hidden, underground world that trees navigate independently from human life; and finally Perceiving Phytochrome, a project that imagines how trees might ‘see’, drawing inspiration from a chemical pigment in their leaves called phytochrome that detects seasonal change through the levels of red light in the atmosphere. 



Epha Roe is an artist and writer based in rural Herefordshire, currently in the fourth year of a part-time, practice-based PhD in Photography at the University of Brighton. Their expanded photographic practice explores relationships between humans and the natural world through traditional and alternative photographic processes, particularly through imaginative forms of ‘collaboration’ between them. 

Recent exhibitions, conferences and publications include: ‘Queer Constellations’, group exhibition exploring queer approaches to rurality and landscape, The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Reading, 2021; co-presentation with Joe Jukes at the MeCCSA-PGN Conference titled ‘Dreaming of Another Place’, Brighton, 2021; screentime photoconvo, publication in ‘screentime’ magazine, 2021; ‘North/South’, group exhibition exploring human-nature relationships through notions of micro-macro, Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, 2020; Body/Nobody, group exhibition, Gallery Lock In, Brighton, 2020; ‘Under waning moons’, a short story/photo-poetry project, published in At Atla: The Birmingham Journal of Literature, Vol XI, 2020.



Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 1 – 6pm
Saturday: 1 – 4pm
Sunday, Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED


Image credit: Photograph by Epha Roe

Image description: cropped photograph of a mature oak tree. The tones of the leaves are lush pastel pinks and reds, envisaging a chemical pigment in oak leaves called phytochrome that detects seasonal change through the levels of red light in the atmosphere. The leaves sway and blur in the breeze.


11 August 2022
3 September 2022
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ONCA Gallery
14 St George's Place
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB United Kingdom

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