Can Art Save The Environment? How One Man Is Helping Spark The Conversation

Updated: Jul 31, 2019


Welcome to Compass Studio's fourth instalment of our 'Explore More' series where we dig into the stories and inspirations of those people that are conquering uncharted grounds right now - whether physical, environmental or social, in the hope of spreading the good further. 

Meet Dave Aldous, an Australian artist who travels the world creating unique and beautiful pressings from fallen trees. Working by hand, Dave slowly uncovers a trees raw identity, highlighting all of their amazing characteristics – paying homage to life, and an intimate moment in time.

  • Tell us a little bit more about Weighted Lines and the concept behind the business?

The idea started around 2013/14, when we were living in Melbourne. We were finding ourselves leaving the city for the Alpine country on most weekends, whilst searching for photoshoot locations for my partner. These trips would take us all over the Victorian landscape– showing me so much diversity within the landscape, and I wanted to delve even further into it.

Hiking the trails all over the high country put me in contact with countless fallen trees, cut by trail workers to clear paths – leaving incredible trunks cut at a cross section, exposing their growth rings. This was where I fell in love with them.

They were all different, some more subtle than others, but the texture and patterns were mesmerising, this was when I knew they would be a part of my life.

I didn’t know how at that time but I knew they would be – this was the birthplace of the idea. It wasn’t for a couple of years after working on the process, refining and defining what would eventually become Weighted Lines.

  • Where does your inspiration come from?

Nature ultimately rules the world, and is a source of inspiration for everyone and everything on this planet. I feel it is less inspiration, and more dedication to showing the beauty of each tree that I find. 

  • Tell us about the creative process behind the pressing?

When people call me an artist, I feel a falseness wash over me. I didn’t know how to describe this for a while, but it struck me that what I do is not art, it is not design – it is translation. I would consider myself a storyteller and a translator. I merely translate the trees life onto paper, the tree has created all the beauty in the world within its growth rings, and I simply get them onto paper.

Through spending time with the tree and its surroundings, I get a feel for its life, which helps me personify the tree.

I spend days with each tree in its natural surrounds – all my work is done onsite where the tree has fallen, I take nothing from nature besides the prints. I fundamentally believe this process creates natural, authentic, and unique works – without this element to my work, I feel it would be less important, and harder to translate the trees life.

Nature ultimately rules the world, and is a source of inspiration for everyone and everything on this planet.

  • Do you have a favourite pressing? Tell us the story behind it.

As cliche as this sounds, the pressings are like my children, they are all perfect for different reasons. Some were easier find and capture, some were found and created during important parts of my life – and I find it hard to let them go.

I am extremely happy when someone contacts me regarding my work, I feel a new emotional connection is born between the work and the new owner, which makes it easier to let them go.

One that stands out for me is a pressing from Japan, we had been slowly assimilating to travel again and getting comfortable navigating our way around in a van, everything was so foreign. Trying to read signs which would give me clues, help dictate and guide me to areas left me coming up short. Two weeks had passed, I felt unfulfilled, empty, struggling with my decisions and feelings of worthlessness. We pulled over the next morning to make some breakfast, and after talking with my partner and vocalising these feeling helped release my internal handcuffs, helping me regroup, and become more focused. Two hours later after a more determined search I came across an incredible location, I knew this was it. 

This print really helped me push pass some internal barriers and taught me a valuable lesson to trust myself and believe in what I do.

  • Where to next for you? Where are the top three destinations that are on your exploration list for 2018?

I am currently in North America on a short trip, on a sort of recon mission. I want to come back to Australia readily prepared for a long road trip printing up the West Coast up into Canada. My goal is to capture a tree in every state of America, the diversity in one country is breathtaking and I would love to capture them all.

Global warming plays a lot on my mind, I really want to find some remote island around Polynesia where rising waters will eventually overcome their land and take it away forever, capturing some of their trees. Documenting the reality of global warming is a massive drive for my work.

  • How do you think the concept of Weighted Lines contributes to the conversation around environmental impact and conscious consumption?

While it is still a young idea, and I only have a small audience, every conversation I have regarding my beliefs behind the environment and my work, this will hopefully make people reflect on their own attributes, and to the current state of this planet. We are all responsible every one of us, whether how big or small we contribute to it.

My base ideology is to see nature not as a whole, but as an individual. When we group things or categorise them, we can often remove blame, or accountability towards them. Showing a tree as not just a tree, but something unique within itself, hopefully creates a new perception towards all things natural. Because of conditioning since the industrial revolution, automation has created millions of products being replicated – and individuality has been easily lost sight of. Nature can’t be manufactured.

  • From your travels around the world, which area do you think is most impacted by deforestation?

Currently it is the developing countries – First World Nations are putting the pressure on to become like them, or utilise their cheap labour. Countries that have already destroyed the majority of their forest have implemented practices to reforest – the difficult situation is when native forests are cleared and diversification is lost. This means replanting crops of commodity species for monetary gain.

  • In terms of sustainable forestry practices, are there any stand-out locations that you’ve witnessed?

Until we move from capitalism or put an ecological tax on everything I don’t believe we will create sustainable practices. If we halt all production for 10 years, we may see a natural change in the landscape we have destroyed so far.

  • What are some simple steps that people can take to minimise the consumption of our forests?

Do things with long lasting purpose.

The simple question to ourselves “is it worth it” can be applied to everything in our life, and really reflect on our choices, this I believe will have the strongest impact and also will be the easiest change. Reducing consumption in all aspects of our life will have incredibly dramatic effects on the planet not just the forests.

  • What does the world need more of right now?

Compassion, it will cure this world.

Want to learn more about Weighted Lines, and make a piece of art your own? Check out or follow Weighted Lines on Instagram.