The Forest
July 2, 2020

The Forest – Common Ground

Jonathan Havelock is a current ARTA member and professional photographer. He has generously donated his time over the years to judge the annual photo contest. ARTA is privileged to share with you the following article about his current art project, and a chance for you to be involved in it.

Sharing a common vision in a divided world

Common ground – it sustains and nurtures us. A common vision of who we are and where we want to go – not necessarily in the same way, because we are different, but with the same goals – to take care of our family, be a good neighbour, and provide for those in need.

Essential to that common ground is the landscape, both physical and emotional, that lives and evolves around us.  A prominent feature of that landscape is the forest – from the vast boreal, tropical and other forests that stretch across our global landscape, to the many urban forests found within and around our cities, towns and villages.

The concept

Forests filter water, protect soil, regulate climate, cycle and store nutrients and provide habitat for wildlife. They are a source of food, medicine and fuel for billions of people. And they inspire our imagination through their quiet majesty and intricate beauty – speaking a universal language understood by all who experience them.

It is in this spirit The Forest – Common Ground, a Canadian national photographic exhibition, was conceived. The exhibit creates an engaging visual experience from what we take for granted by exposing the uncommon and often hidden beauty of the forest. It captures the extraordinary in the ordinary and what we feel and special to each of us. Because while what we see is common, we experience it differently. And that is what makes us a community.

Creating an immersive experience

Using the intricate and striking photographic images from Alberta’s forests created by Jon Havelock as the prototype, we are building a Canadian national forest, including species from all parts of Canada.

The Canadian forest will have more than 200 trees presented in two complementary, though distinct “styles”, with at least five from each of the ten provinces and 3 territories.   The intent is to create an immersive experience that draws people into the majesty and wonder of the forest – a virtual form of “forest bathing” – inviting viewers to lose themselves in a setting of rich and stimulating imagery, to explore and see the unseen.

A call for submissions has been issued to professional and amateur photographers from across Canada to submit images to create the final Canadian forest exhibit (closing date of December 31, 2020). Contributing photographers can submit up to 5 trees and must follow precise guidelines to ensure the quality and consistency of images. Submitted work will be curated and the selected images will be integrated into the final art installation.  Photographers will share in the sale of their images and the success of the exhibit.

The intention is to launch the installation in Edmonton in the summer of 2022 at the Convention Centre (approx. 15-day exhibition).  Other Canadian exhibition sites will then follow.

Partnering to make our planet better 

The Forest – Common Ground is committed to the sustainment and re-establishment of forests in Canada and throughout the world for the current and future generations.  That is why we are donating our net Canadian exhibition and retail proceeds to various charitable organizations dedicated to reforestation, environmental preservation and climate change initiatives in Canada.


Samples of the trees are on display at Jonathan Havelock’s Fine Art Gallery (#155, 10403 122nd Street, Edmonton, Alberta – gallery located on 121st Street across from the old Molson brewery. Phone: 587-520-9255).  And if there is sufficient interest from ARTA members, Jon will take a group out to photograph trees in the Edmonton area (appropriate social distancing will be followed). To learn more about the project, submission guidelines or to contact Jon visit the link below.

Images photographed by Jonathan Havelock from the Forest Common Ground National Photographic Exhibition. All are Quaking Aspen from Elk Island National Park.