The L’antscrapes project developed from my noticing the effect that colonies of the Southern Wood Ant (Formica rufa) have on pieces of timber integrated into their nests. The ants, a highly important part of the woodland ecology, have a symbiotic relationship with aphid populations that live in the tree canopy, milking them of their sweet excrement in exchange for protecting them against predators. They also patrol the woodland floor, clearing up dead creatures, predating others, and gathering plant materials to their nests so that the decomposition maintains a steady temperature range throughout the year.
So, I have been placing selected timbers in local wood ant nests, leaving them for 2 or 3 years, and then carefully extracting, cleaning, treating, and mounting them. The results are beautiful records of the ants’ immediate landscape that also reveal something profound about the nature and structure of wood itself.