Anita Strods Dore standing in front of one of her works titled “Bambesch”
Photo: David Dore
Forest bathing is about more than a mindful moment in nature. American designer and artist Anita Strods Dore talks about how the “wood-wide” network inspired her recent paintings which will be on display starting 10 October.
A Japanese concept, shinrin-yoku literally means “forest” and “bath” and is about more than just going for a walk in the woods. It involves wandering, using all senses as a guide, to really connect with the natural world.
Local designer Anita Strods Dore was first introduced to the concept a few years ago while reading a magazine article. An American who moved to Luxembourg in 2008, Strods Dore is somebody who has always been fond of being outdoors--“in wild spaces as well as the city”--whether that was in upstate New York or coastal Maine, two places she’s very familiar with, or in Luxembourg’s local forests.
So she decided to delve deeper. Two books in particular--“The Overstory” by Richard Powers and “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wollebhen, a forester based in Germany’s Eiffel region--got her thinking more about forest bathing, and she was surprised to learn that trees have similar behaviour to humans.
“[Trees] communicate with each other, protect each other, they even have a sense of taste and smell,” she said.
Strods Dore said she couldn’t help but wonder if “we are picking up on this supportive and nurturing effort, on a cellular level”, especially since she says she feels a sense of balance and clear-headedness after her time in the forest.
“They have actually done scientific studies on it and found that spending time in wild places such as a forest lowers blood pressure, increases immunity, and elevates mood.”
It was these thoughts that inspired her to capture the “hidden life” of forests through her paintings. “We go to [the forest] to nurture ourselves, and trees are nurturing each other. A lot of things in the forest we don’t see.”
Strods-Dore calls her paintings “expressionistic landscapes” and what interests her is not just the natural environments themselves, but also “how they make us feel when we are in them. I use non-traditional colours to express space and feelings of certain spaces.”
Creating the works has also caused Strods Dore to reflect more about natural spaces, even from where she is based in Merl.
“In general I do worry about green spaces disappearing and I see it happening so much in Luxembourg,” she said. “I understand that it’s a part of accommodating growth in business and population, but it still makes me sad when I see fields and forests disappear to make room for new development. I hope that Luxembourg preserves more green spaces and makes them easily accessible to people--with or without a car-- on a daily basis.”
Paintings on display through 2020
On the evening of 10 October, her art show kicks off at the Salon by Jeremy on avenue de la Liberté, where some 20 of her works will be on display until 10 January 2020.
She said she chose that location because “the environment is intimate, calming, and it has nature-themed decor”, adding: “I hope my paintings encourage viewers to look deeper at forests and appreciate and be curious about them.
And, since viewers will be surrounded by her paintings of the forest, “they will also get another kind of forest bathing”.