Elaine Ling Statement

Artist Statement

In some of the most arid and infertile regions of Africa, Madagascar, and Australia the Baobab tree grows to enormous size. These miraculous giants are one of the largest living things on the planet and have a potential lifespan of more than a thousand years. They are great friends to their human neighbours—providing an ever-renewing source of textiles, netting, baskets and roofing. Their nutritious fruit has many medicinal properties.

My photographs are reflections on the ancient, life-sustaining dialogue between these enduring mega-trees and the people—grandmothers and fathers, parents, youths and small children— who live among them. These portraits, pairing individual Baobabs with their human neighbours, document a most intimate relationship. They were taken in South Africa, Mali and Madagascar.

In The Little Prince (French: 'Le Petit Prince'), first published in 1943, a novella of the French aristocrat writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the baobab tree made its debut. Because of its size and its dominant presence, the Little Prince tried to sweep it off his tiny planet.

Before the Baobabs, I did a 5 year project on Nomadic Mongolia, publishing my book. Now I am working on my portfolio of Myanmar, a magic place I have visited in 2006 and 2011.

Process Statement
The Baobab images are taken by a 4x5 Phillips view camera on Polaroid P55 film, which is scanned on a drum scanner and digitally printed on Hahnemühle paper with archival permanent inks . The prints are 30"x40".

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