Category: Trees and Sky Exhibition


Reflections on the ‘Trees and Sky Exhibition’, Marmaris 28th May ~ 10th June, 2010.

Some time in February 2010, before we thought of creating our Trees and Sky Exhibition, I asked Michael Eldridge if he thought a photographic image might have the ability to heal?

I was thinking of how, so I am informed, the traditional shamanic doctor-priests of Tibet would sometimes prescribe mandalas that were prepared to heal people of their afflictions.

In a troubled age of self-worship, acquisition, and horror, which often presses photography into its service, Michael and I attempted to assemble a collection of ‘honest’ images that convey the basic beauty and simplicity of life.

I hoped that some of these may have an ability to heal.

There is no doubt in my mind that whilst each image in ‘Trees and Sky’ can stand alone the collection benefits from coming from both of us.

Children came here in groups and we helped them to make photographs and see in new ways.

People who once made photographs using film love our exhibition. It reconnects them to a world prior to digital editing software. All of our images have benefited, somewhat, from digital enhancement, but nothing was attempted that could not previously have been achieved using chemical processes.

Painters remark on the framing of the images. They like our use of colour, tone and perspective. For them our photographs are not about photography but about capturing the essence of the scene, just as they attempt with brush or pallet knife.

People who only know digital photography are more critical. The images lack a surreal quality, they claim. Hungry for more pizazz they fail to examine the photographs as new information and allow them to do their work. Instead they attempt to understand them as a tableaux of digital techniques. Of course this can only lead to disappointment because they fail to relate to the images because they have deconstructed them in an attempt to fit them into what can be achieved technically.

For Michael and I life is already a fabulous dream. It doesn’t require digital enhancement. It is sufficient simply as it is and our photographs bear witness to our experiences. No hurry, no pressure, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired. That’s all!

I’ve no doubt that some people have started to heal as a result of looking at our pictures. Many have immersed themselves within them before talking of a family illness or some other trauma with which an image enabled them to connect.

Others, unfortunately, live in a deep trance in which they are identified with all the ballyhoo of a high pressure, fashionista, consumer lifestyle. It will take more than one exhibition to awaken them.

The pictures, so simple in their subject matter and technique, subtly point to archetypes we all can recognise if we give ourselves the time to disengage from the frenetic pace of today’s cyber-lifestyle and once again appreciate the obvious.


Children’s Photography Workshops.

I’ve been running some children’s photography workshops in conjunction with TEMA, which is The Turkish Foundation For Combating Soil Erosion, and is dedicated to preserving the Country’s woodland.

Classes from local schools attend. First they visit the gallery and look at the large images that Michael and I made near his home in Italy, and mine here in Turkey.

Then we talk about them.

The children are quick to pick up that the pictures are different from the ones their parents take because the pictures in their family albums are mainly of people.

They like the images in the gallery which they think of as ‘nature photographs’.

Later we conduct some simple perception experiments by focussing on our forefinger and noting that the background has become fuzzy. Some children even report that the background seems to move further away, which is an accurate description of their perception because our eyes focus in a different way to cameras.

The real task starts when the children make a simple viewfinder with their hands and fingers and begin to find subjects they may wish to photograph.

Toward the end of the workshop I help them to select a subject and we take a picture of it with my camera.

The photograph is then printed on a sheet of high quality digital photographic paper using archival quality inks. It has a wide border so all the class can sign their print.

Here are some examples of the images made during the workshops.


Here are three of the images we made at the ‘Trees and Sky’ Children’s Workshops.


When The Guards Like It You Know It’s As Good As It Gets!

In June 2007 I visited Istanbul Modern to see an exhibition of photographs by Andreas Gursky. These super-large digital collages were a great success here in Turkey.

How do I know?

Quite simply because I noted that the security guards at the gallery were carefully examining each one and talking together about what they saw.

Believe me a security guard is unlikely to have a degree in fine art. On the other hand those guarding galleries have probably seen everything from large nudes to abstract daubs.

When they start to relate to work I know it to be good.

Imagine my delight then when Mücahit Kazancıoğlu one of the guards at Netsel Marina paid us some visits and enthused about our work.

“I always used to carry my camera with me”, he said. “Now I will begin to carry it again.”

“Who knows maybe one day I’ll be a fine-art photographer too?”


A Small Miracle At The Trees And Sky Exhibition

Cloudscape by Michael Eldridge from Trees and Sky

This is one of Michael’s images from Italy. It is predominantly a cloudscape. The blue is a lapis lazuli, deep and saturated. The pinks and reds blend perfectly. What more might be asked?

A doctor came to the gallery today. He came with a midwife. The sun was setting bringing with it a coolness when people in these parts venture out and explore.

I looked at Michael’s picture. The sun was reflecting on  it masked with a natural gobo.

It seemed in some way that heaven had opened and God’s face was visible for those with eyes to see.

Variation on an image by Michael Eldridge, from Trees and Sky.

A ‘gobo’ is a cut out mask used by photographers to create shadows of a specific shape in studio contrived images.


Michael Eldridge Shares His Message At The Opening of ‘Trees and Sky’

Stephen Bray, Irem Bray, Michael Eldridge ~ Trees and Sky, photo Jobey A Butt.

Stephen Bray, Irem Bray (translating) and Michael Eldridge at the opening ceremony for Trees and Sky at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris, Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Jobey A. Butt.)

“The purpose of this exhibition is very simple. It is our attempt to help people reconnect with their environment and the planet.

“I would like each of you every morning to really look at a tree, to examine it closely, and to also see what’s up there in the sky.

“It’s really that simple”

Michael went on to express his appreciation of all the love he had received since coming to Turkey, as well as the practical support accompanying it from artisans who had done much to ‘fix’ last minute glitches, often with no more than a moment’s notice.


Michael Eldridge and Stephen Bray Discuss Trees and Sky on Marmaris Radio Park FM

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge under the banner for their Trees and Sky show at Netsel Gallery Marmaris

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge under the huge banner at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris.

“Only one day to go and we’ve only put up the banner”, said Michael Eldridge.

“Inşallah Michael”, I replied, “All will be cool!”

“It’s all these interviews and radio shows wot’s causing the delays”, Michael retorted.

“Ah but you said some way fab stuff on Park FM Marmais today Mike”, said Stephen.

Do you agree?

Stephen Bray with Michael Eldridge outside Netsel Gallery. Marmaris, Turkey.

Not much work getting done. Too much foolin’ around, but lots of fun, just as life should be!


Sweet memories . . .

By Michael Eldridge

My photographs are not just photographs.

Now that’s an amazing statement Mice!

Yes, and somewhat simplistic, I know, I know.

Let me put it this way. They are a sort of external hard disc of my mind and I can shut my eyes and summon up every painting and photograph that I have ever created.

And what is more . . .

Yes Yes Yes ?

If I had never created them, my life would not be as it is now.

Whoa!. Heavy stuff!

Not really no. You see, what we create, what we create beyond ourselves, enriches us.

Let me give an example.

I was at the Printer’s this morning in Tolentino printing this image, testing again the limit of Mauro’s patience (he my print expert on RAW and Nikon imaging programme) And I asked him about a course he’d just finished on master printing. Cheekily I asked him if they ever, in these classes, talked about the experience, the actuality, of taking photographs. He span around at me in his swivel chair and said ‘Look, the first thing we are always told in these classes, is that the image you take is what is of supreme importance. It starts here. And to never attempt to work on an image that isn’t good, your best’

Nice that!

So this image above, for me, is about that instance of recognition, where you feel yourself part of what you are photographing. Where duality dissolves; where you absorb the trees as they themselves absorb the first moister from their roots as winter releases them tenderly from its grip.

And now that creation is part of me; the trees, the dampness, the mist, the sky.

And that’s what is so marvelous about the medium.


Some Thoughts On Mining Techniques In Dereozu Turkey

Whilst it’s possible to photograph anything and make it beautiful there’s very little that’s beautiful about the way trees were brutalised at Dereozu. They haven’t been cut down, were crushed with heavy machinery.”

Exploratory Manganese Workings Dereozu, Turkey.

An Exploratory Manganese Working, Dereözü, Turkey.

I said as much on Marmaris, Park FM 100.5 radio during an interview about a forthcoming exhibition of photographs which features the Dereözü woodlands, as well as images from the Me Marche region of Italy by my fellow photographer Michael Eldridge.

You can hear the full interview here. Some parts are in Turkish but the story is pretty clear, no matter which language you speak.

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss 'Trees and Sky' with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss ‘Trees and Sky’ with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM



Sex, Lies, And Name Dropping

By Michael Eldridge

This is a picture of an Oak tree which lives at the bottom of my garden.

It was taken with my telefonino (i.e. mobile) so it was a bit hit and miss.

What would Ansel have said, I wonder? Ansel? Oh, yes, I’m referring to Ansel Adams.

You’ve met Ansel Adams?

Yeah, yeah, a few times, he was a friend of my mate George who looked after me in California where I lived for a while.


Yes, I mention him not because I’m name dropping but because of the story he told us about his famous ‘Moon over Sierra Nevada’ photograph, taken when he and Edward Weston and the whole West Coast States bunch were rolling down to Arizona in a drunken haze. Fact was, he just took a deep breath in the dark and took a divine guess at the exposure.

Was as surprised as a moonbeam that it came out, let alone that it was to become an icon and milestone in the history of photography.

Divine guess, I like that, well done Mice.

Lovely guy, no pretensions, very kind and gentle.

Like Tony Snowdon.

What you’ve met him too?

Yeah, did all the backdrop design for him on a Issey Mayake shoot in London

Lovely guy, thoughtful, kind and patient.

Like Cartier-Bresson and Buckminster Fuller.

Huh? WWahwa?

And in November, I met (after not having seen him for years), Oliviera Toscani, an old friend from those hippy days.

But hey! This is beginning to sound like name dropping and that just isn’t my style at all.

All I really want to say is that photographers are really nice, humble people.

Like me and Steve.

Oh, and modest too.

Steve’s a bit of a name dropper though, between you and me!

Micer 😉


Publicity For ‘Trees And Sky’ Builds

Slowly news of ‘Trees and Sky’ is drip-feeding into the Turkish, and International Press. Suddenly the photographers find the tables turned and the lenses are focussed upon them.

It’s an amazing turn of events for the two men who eschew publicity in favour of walking in the hills and dales of their chosen habitats.

Michael John Eldridge both paints, and runs creativity courses as well as taking photographs. He lives in the Le Marche region of Italy and it was his images that initially inspired Stephen  Bray to create ‘Trees and Sky’.

Bray has led two parallel careers, both as a psychotherapist as well as a second career in publishing.

Trees and Sky is open to public view at Netsel Gallery Marmaris from 29th May until 10th June. More information is available on this website and also at