What she learnt
Lal focused her residency on ‘The Empress’ a mature oak in the field opposite her house. She used the varying perspectives of the community around this tree as a way of exploring relationship with nature and post-colonial narratives. Through this, Lal considered the world outside her home during the lockdown. Her focus was the solitary tree in the field outside her house. She considered its relationship to its surroundings and the way it stood sentinel over the surrounding landscape. The refection was to invert her perfective to look out at the world from the perspective of the tree.
In doing this, she worked with a community garden situated near the tree to develop creative filming sessions and facilitated a school visit to the tree to talk about the children perspective on the landscape. All of this was documented in three short, interconnected films.
Lal considers how her mixed heritage changes the way she views, and is viewed, in the landscape. Reflecting on the nature of landscape and whether her south Indian heritage is more visible due to the colonial ideologies of conformity. She refences:
“Etymologically speaking, landscape is an expanse of the perceived environment: a scene, a region, surroundings as viewed by the observer. This gives landscape unique standing in the environmental experience because landscape cannot be considered alone. It is, in effect, defined by and in relation to human perception. Landscape is a relationship.”
During the gathering period, she reflects on the journey of her ancestors, and the role that colonialism took in displace them from their homes and still has on the relationship she has to the land around her today. She celebrates victories of returning the land to mor traditional use and hearing the voices of the local children as they reponed to it. In the voice of a local community gardener:
“I have looked at this as how things were when we were children growing up around the village and how it is now. So as children, fields around the village were generally grass for cows and sheep to feed on and now they are far more occupied by maize which grows quite tall”.
The children that Lal worked with are very aware threat that climate change would affect their lives in the future and were concerned what it would mean for the community and natural spaces around them.
 Arnold Berleant