As we look to how the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown are affecting communities across the globe, it’s absolute that the lives and work of many have changed. As a personal way of dealing with isolation, British photographer Alexander Fleming has captured his Vancouver neighborhood Kitsilano in ‘Do Trees Sleep at Night?’.
Fleming and his partner relocated from London to Vancouver, Canada, in March 2020. “Very suddenly the circumstances changed, and this new lifestyle was not quite what we had expected,” Fleming explains to IGNANT. “I found myself quickly adapting my routine, writing fiction and making photographic work whilst socially distancing from other people.” Artistic practices may be unique in their ability to provide a renewed sense of connection to our neighborhoods, and given our present inability to interact physically with others, the beauty found in our streets feels even more intimate and cherished.
"Everything is now changed. But that is the whole of what life is.”
All images in the series were captured within a two square kilometer radius surrounding Fleming’s house. In ‘Do Trees Sleep at Night?’, the ordinary holds a different weight once captured: a perfectly trimmed hedge, a bird perched on a balcony, late afternoon shadows cast by the sun. Each considered frame iscaptured with grace, enabling the viewer to shift their perspective and remind themselves that it’s the small details in life that can bring clarity to what matters. The undisturbed images are peaceful and do not depict a sombre attitude; but rather the beauty of spaces, dappled light, shadows, and color. “I had this train of thought that whilst everyone was in their homes, one saint was out tending to the gardens, pottering and jostling with the wildlife that is now running wild upon the open avenues,” Fleming says. It reminded him of the children’s book The Night Garden by Polly Horvath, in which the character Old Tom tends to the gardens. “There’s this quote in the book that is particularly fitting to our current day,” he says, an excerpt of which follows as thus:
“Everything is now changed. But that is the whole of what life is. See the sun sinking over the edge of the sea? This day is done. This day will never come again. Everything has changed. Remind yourself of that every morning and every night, and then you won’t come to expect anything but what is.”