While engaged in a photographic project covering the whole length of the Yangtze River in China, Preston found a beautiful tree over 300 years old in the tiny village of Xialiu. She was knocked out not only by the beauty of the trees but also by the houses and their patios, but on her return three months later the scene was devastating. The village was still completely flooded after the building of a dam and the tree had been sold to a luxury hotel in Binchuan city, two hours travel away. Unfortunately, this is not the only case and the transplantation of trees is becoming a very powerful industry in China. To make the environment more inhabitable, expanding cities buy adult trees in accordance with the degree of “respectability” of their species but without taking into account the environmental conditions needed for their survival. The author wonders whether these practices can be deemed to be acts of conservation and if we really understand the conflict this whole process engenders. She hopes that Forest will stimulate dialogue about these issues.
Previously trained in Clinical Medicine in Shanghai, Preston begun to pursue a career in Photography with her immigration to the UK in 2005. She is interested in how landscape photography can challenge myths and reveal the hidden complexities behind the surface of physical landscapes. Her work has won international awards such as Shiseido Photographer Prize and been shown in prestigious venues. She has been published in important magazines including the Royal Photographic Society’s Journal (2015). Her work is collected by public institutions and by individual collectors around the world.