La Foresta Portrait by Hillary Waters Fayle: Autumn


AUTUMN 2018 was brought to la Foresta by Hillary Waters Fayle, an artist based in Richmond, VA. Hillary’s canvas are nature materials, particularly — leafs! She is transforming them with embroidery, carvings, and other traditional craft techniques, through which she binds nature and the human touch. We love this bonding and simplicity, seasonality, and imaginative beauty of Hillary’s work. The roots of which are going deep into the mindset and practice of sustainability, where human is an integral and embedded part of the natural world. Here’s what Hillary says about her creative process, and below — a selection of some her work.

I want to salvage and revive our connection to the natural world. I study rich hand craft traditions, using them in collaboration with found botanical and organic material; symbolically binding nature and the human touch. Both tender and ruthless, this intricate and sensitive work implies that our relationship to nature is both tenuously fragile and infinitely complex. It is my hope to inspire a shifted perspective on the way we view the natural world; to explore and appreciate what is so often overlooked and to realize the potential for existence in balance with nature.”


”I had a favorite tree. It was a Beech tree; thin with bright emerald leaves. It grew on top of a hill, in the middle of a Norway Spruce forest, which was as dark and foreboding as it sounds. The trees were planted by someone either for lumber, or to cut and sell as Christmas Trees. In any case, the trees were never cut for either purpose, and they grew to a magnificent height. This spruce forest was a monoculture; comprised of only one type of tree. Forests such as this don’t function in the way natural forests do. These trees are all the same, hunger for the same portion of light and have the same rate of growth. They shoot up, taller and spindlier by the year, racing towards the light, only the needles in the upper reaches gaining enough access to open sky, nothing able to grow beneath. This is a strange, dark forest, as I walk through, my footsteps muffled by a carpet of needles several feet thick.

Among these tall, quiet trees there is a patch of intermittent sunlight; inconsistent but more present than not. A Spruce has blown over, leaving a swath of open sky. The light, which reaches the forest floor through this narrow keyhole, seems almost dazzling in contrast to the dim surroundings. It was in this unlikely patch of light where my favorite tree grew, the slender Beech. It is incorrect, actually to say that it grew there in the sun, but towards it, more accurately, as it’s roots locked it to the Earth ten or fifteen feet from this spot. While it grew upward, it also grew in a rather acute, but graceful arch, ten or fifteen feet high at its peak. This unusual feat of phototropism allowed this tree to grow ever towards the brightest light, its leaves finally reaching direct sun after nearly a decade from the day it sprouted.

What tenacity and resilience that little beech represented for me, dropping and re-growing leaves ten times before any of them tasted the sweet reward of sunlight. That tree always seemed to me to be the recipient of such improbable circumstance. It was an unlikely location for this little seeding to find itself, pushing up out of the dark soil into a dismal and nearly eternal dim. Even more implausible that it should live so long, in a particularly precarious position, with brilliant green leaves, fluttering about, each one a proud flag waving; victorious. The predicament of this tree also seemed somehow unfair, if you can ever apply the principles of fairness to the natural world. The longer this little Beech tree strived toward the light it so desperately needed, the weaker its backwards bending trunk became and the stronger the forces of physics enacted upon those roots which anchored the little tree to life. I remember pondering this many times, alone with the Beech who bowed forever to the harsh laws of nature. I stood with it in the single island of sunlight and touched its twisted, iron-like trunk, feeling like I knew something of its struggle, while the unregarding Spruce trees towered silently above us.
— Hillary Waters Fayle