Dryads - The tree-bound by Maria Fynsk Norup
Reading time: about 4 minutes
About this series
The ancient Greek stories of the dryads, or forest nymphs, are full of drama, beauty and anthropomorphised ways of explaining the mythical or inexplicable in the natural world. The dryads were honoured as semi-godlike female spirits inhabiting trees and groves, often bound in such a way that their life itself was tied to the life of the trees. Many older cultures and religions show a similar reverence for nature, with beings akin to the dryads guarding trees and forests. The Japanese kodamas, the Indian Yakshini, as well as the more widely known elves and fairies are examples of these. In common for all was a respect for and belief in the sanctity of life of our natural surroundings, that to a large degree has been lost today.
Self-portrait artist Maria Fynsk Norup created this series around these mythical beings to lift the stories into our time, and remind people that our lives, like the dryads’, are equally bound to the life of the natural world.
Your work is deeply personal. A lot of your works are self-portraits linked with nature. What’s the story behind that?
I've always created from the inside out, using my art as a way to process and visualize my inner world. So there will naturally always be a connection to something personal in the final work. And the link with nature… I think the reason is manifold. Being surrounded with nature is how I relax. We left Copenhagen to go live on the island of Ærø in order to be close to nature, and literally got the full package of ocean, small woods, and a large garden to play in (garden design is my outdoor creative room). But the link with nature is also in a way me giving homage to my years spent studying botany. The love for plants and flowers runs deep, but I also draw a lot of inspiration from it.
Why did you choose for your images a darker and ethereal palette of tones?
I don’t think I consciously chose it. It’s something that has evolved during my years of practice, and probably also links back to me creating from the inside out. I am very inspired by painters like the Hammershøi and Caravaggio, and how they use light and colors, and you can definitely draw some parallels, but again it is not something I have consciously worked towards.
What are the challenges you face when creating your works?
I think it will have to be the weather. It can’t be too sunny, and preferably not too cold (which is tricky, living in Northern Europe). And then my natural shyness, which prefers absolutely no people to be around when I shoot.
Do you see the NFT space as a chance for your photography or do you see NFTs more critical?
The possibility to sell my works as 1/1 NFTs is definitely leveling the playing field in relation to e.g. paintings (which has traditionally been easier for people to understand as unique works, and therefore be willing to pay higher prices for). But the NFT space has also opened a way for me–as well as for anyone else–to sell their work to an international group of collectors in a hitherto unimaginable way. I have always been working towards an international audience, but web3 has felt like kicking in the doors compared to the reach of web2.
What are your current and future projects?
I’ve just launched a few works on objkt.com, as I’m part of the Dark Side collection curated by @WomenMuseumArt. Besides that, I’m working on a few standalone images from my idea-sketchbook, and then I have a (still secret) project to get ready for the end of the year.
Originally trained as a botanist (phd), Maria Fynsk Norup returned to her creative roots and worked as a photographer for the last 10 years. In 2015 Norup moved with her family from Copenhagen to a small island in the southern part of DK.⠀⠀⠀⠀
Using often self-portraits as form of expression, Norups projects revolve around femininity, the right to a place in the world, and the raw poetry of nature.
Norup’s work has received several international awards, and her images have been exhibited both in Denmark and abroad, lately in New York during NFTNY 2022.
Photos copyright Maria Fynsk Norup
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